Rajnath launches ‘Soul of Steel’ initiative to promote high-altitude endurance and adventure 

NEW DELHI, Jan 14: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday launched an initiative called ‘Soul of Steel’ that seeks to promote high-altitude endurance and adventure in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal Himalayas.

The idea behind the adventure challenge, spearheaded by a group of veterans, is also to ensure tourism and boost the economy in the mountainous region of Uttarakhand.

A total of 12 Indian participants and six international teams are going to participate in the around-three-month challenge.

During his visit to Uttarakhand, the defence minister also launched a website for volunteers to sign up for various adventure activities under the ‘Soul of Steel’ challenge.

The Indian Army is supporting the adventure challenge.

Singh also flagged off the ‘Road to the End’, a 460-km-long car rally, as part of the initiative.

The rally will reach its destination in the Garhwal Himalayas near Niti village in Chamoli district in the next three days, according to the Defence Ministry.

The ‘Soul of Steel’ is being organised by CLAW Global, an entity comprising a group of veterans.

“Soul of Steel is a unique blend of specialised skills including high-altitude mountaineering, extreme cold survival, psychological endurance and physical toughness,” said Major Vivek Jacob (Retd.) of CLAW Global.

The challenge opens the domain of niche military skills to an average youth who wishes to challenge his physical and psychological limits, said another member of the organisation.

Participants will be selected through a detailed screening and training model through traditional and modern standards.

The total cost of the project is around Rs 30 crore.

During the course of the programme, they will be trained to operate beyond the assumed limits of their body, to discover the limitless realms of their mind, consciousness and spirit, the official said.

The project aims to train prospective athletes who wish to compete in this first-of-its-kind international challenge, another member of the CLAW Global said.

“In this challenge, the toughest will compete, few will sustain, the best will win but everyone will evolve,” he said.

The entire Soul of Steel event will be filmed and presented as a series aimed to inspire a global audience.

The training programme will be aimed at equipping the participants with specialist skills including mountaineering and survival skills, advanced medical skills, self-defence techniques, physical fitness, psychological resilience and endurance.

The training will take place in two stages at the biomes established at Gamshali, among other places leading up to the final challenge at the Nanda Devi National Park, the member said.

He said the Soul of Steel event will lay the foundation to galvanise the adventure sports potential of remote areas of India, boost tourism, engage the youth in skill-based certification programmes for gainful employment, promote active environmental conservation.

It will stage Uttarakhand on the global tourism map for adventure tourism, the official said. (PTI)

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