Clensta’s gel-based formulation is free of alcohol, Sodium lauryl sulfate and any other harmful ingredients. Moreover, unlike traditional products, it can be directly applied to hair and body, massaged and then can be dried off using a towel.
“The products, indigenously manufactured under the Make in India and Swachh Bharat Scheme, have been dermatological tested and approved under FDA,” said Puneet Gupta.

In Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield, temperatures routinely plummet to -50 degree Celsius and the soldiers of the Indian Army posted at the base have to battle frostbite and icy winds. When battling such harsh weather conditions, normal day-to-day activities like taking a bath is a luxury. At least till now.

Working closely with defence personnel and observing the tough environmental conditions they worked under, Puneet Gupta decided to do something about it. His efforts culminated in starting Clensta, a water less personal hygiene solution. The startup’s line of gel-based water less bath and shampoo enables one to take a bath or wash their hair without using a single drop of water.

“I examined the hygienic situation of a soldier and the challenge of not bathing for days faced during their duty in places with extreme conditions like Siachen, Kargil or Drass. After witnessing their difficulty in maintaining personal, I decided to develop water less technology products, leading to the establishment of Clensta,” says Gupta.

Need of The Hour

Clensta (formed by joining two words -cleaning and instant), is, however, not just for soldiers stationed in extreme environments, but can prove useful to patients in hospitals, elderly people and adventure enthusiasts.

According to the founder, with both water scarcity and the level of groundwater now reaching alarming levels (both nationally and globally), and for a country that remains drought-prone, where natural calamities are a regular phenomenon affecting more than its 330 million inhabitants, Clensta is a much-needed idea.

“Amid a scarcity of water to drink, Clensta is a big boon for India since it does not use a drop of water,” avers the firm's CEO, adding that the saved water resources can subsequently be conserved and used for other purposes, allowing people to have a hygienic life without worrying about water availability.

According to the 34-year old founder, Clensta as a brand has been established with the thought of providing innovative solutions to everyday problems. Citing how various unhygienic bathing standards applicable for patients today make it problematic for them to maintain cleanliness, he opines that the easy availability of water less bath and shampoo now makes it easy for patients to maintain hygiene in severe health conditions.

As a technology, Clensta’s makers claim it to be a simple formulation - free of alcohol, Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS, a chemical generally used in bathing products) and any other harmful ingredients. Moreover, unlike traditional products, it can be directly applied to hair and body, massaged and then can be dried off using a towel.

“Its advanced gel-based cleansing formula not only removes dirt, oil, and grease completely, but also provides anti-microbial properties, removes body odour and maintains the pH of the skin and keeps it moisturised,” adds Gupta, claiming that the entrapment of dust microbes and bacteria are a common occurrence on human skin and unlike bathing with soap that requires almost 70 litres of water, Clensta’s solutions require none.

Unique Formulation

According to the team behind this IIT-Delhi partnered venture, Clensta’s water less body bath products are distinguished from others based on their formulation and innovativeness too.

“The Clensta products are formulated with ingredients (chlorhexidine, dehydroacetic acid, and benzyl alcohol) which kill 99 % of germs. The relative amount of ingredients and the ratio (weight/vol %) of every ingredient and its synergism makes our product different from a normal shampoo. Due to this combination, the products can maintain the same level of cleansing effect without leaving the same high level of residue,” says Gupta.

Stressing on the company's thrust on sustainable manufacturing, the founder asserts that the company has prepared products using the ingredients that will break down in nature. “The products, indigenously manufactured under the Make in India and Swachh Bharat Scheme, have been dermatological tested and approved under FDA,” Gupta says.

Path Ahead

On the company’s rapid strides so far, Gupta affirms that ever since its inception in 2016 (with product commercialisation happening only in 2018), the company has built a significant market for its water less products.

While maintaining that the opportunity of converting climatic risk into a business opportunity does drive Clensta to explore untapped frontiers, the startup founder adds that the sectors such as healthcare, defence, travel and places with acute water scarcity remain his key target segments.

“The company’s progress could be determined by the numbers of bottles sold till date,” he boasts, adding that the company has successfully sold around 3 lakh bottles to its consumers since its incorporation.

The biotech startup’s products, besides widely accepted in the Indian Army and Navy, have so far made it to the shelves in many private and government hospitals and organisations, including – All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML), Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital (SSKM) and CK Birla, among others.

Explaining the existing revenue stream of the company, Gupta adds that presently the firm follows a B2B sales channel through which the product is sold via a distribution network. Presently, Clensta's offerings are currently available on all the leading eCommerce portals like Amazon, Flipkart, and Seniority.

Gupta says the startup is now in the midst of developing a new set of products, that includes everything from water less toothpaste, a pigeon repellent and an anti-mosquito spray. Describing the USP of its soon to be launched ‘water less toothpaste’, Gupta says the product has a big potential in the oral care market.

The firm also intends to develop an innovative bio-repellent for pigeons, which it claims, will exhibit excellent performance over a number of surfaces, while being devoid of any harmful chemicals. Also, its anti-mosquito body bath will offer cleansing benefit along with mosquito repellent properties.

Derivative dishes come in a steady trickle. There is the cheesy bread, a combination that every pizza takeaway claims as a bestseller.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any “modern”, “progressive” or “progressive but traditional”— call it what you will — Indian restaurant will dish out the panipuri.

It could masquerade as a pebble — lustrous and smooth — or a chocolate shell filled with mouth-burning chilli water. Or, it could sit like an egg on a nest of inedible god-knows-what.

The water may be indeed water, served in syringes or test tubes, or it may be gel. The puffed-up puri may be dainty enough to fit in your mouth or so tiny to be dumped in the spicy water in an inversion of the dish wherein the liquid fills the solid. Whatever be its form, the panipuri is a fixture, right at the beginning of the meal, on modern Indian menus.

It is obviously meant to surprise and delight. Except that after the second such experience, no one is surprised by its appearance.

The panipuri is just one of the many familiar clichés served by chefs, deriving inspiration from Gaggan or Indian Accent, claiming an originality that is conspicuous by its absence. In fact, “inventive” Indian restaurants follow quite a familiar pattern. The dishes that come rolling out of their kitchens are so comically (or tragically) the same that had it not been for the beguiling presentations, diners may have yawned at the appearance of each course.

After the Golgappa, some sort of redefined yogurt will make an appearance. It may arrive at your table as a wobbly sphere or as airy foam but it will clearly pay obeisance to Gaggan’s Yoghurt Explosion, which itself may have been a nod to the papdi chaat. It may have been accused of being a novel thought about a decade ago but is certainly not now.

Derivative dishes come in a steady trickle. There is the cheesy bread, a combination that every pizza takeaway claims as a bestseller. In modern Indian restaurants, this is some sort of naan done in a pizza oven, with a springy or thin crust, combined with cheese of some kind, Himalayan or French.

There is also inevitably galauti kebab, redone. It is often served up as a pâté by chefs who are supremely unconscious of culinary history — the French pâté possibly inspired the creation of the Lucknowi kebab in the first place. This is often topped with synthetic truffle oil to give it a burst of umami without even the pretence of finesse.

The list goes on: thepla tacos, chargrilled lamb chops, ribs inspired by Indian Accent’s star dish smeared with meetha pickle, rasam foam, different versions of the chicken tikka masala, which is not even an Indian dish. While Indian restaurants abroad may be fogiven for plating it as a populist trope, there is no excuse for its inclusion on menus in India, where audiences may have never tasted or taken to the original British monstrosity.

Finally, there is the dessert. If it is not some copy of Manish Mehrotra’s reinvention of Daulat ki Chaat, Old Delhi’s frothy winter delight, it is likely to be borrowed from Alinea. The Chicago restaurant serves desserts as “art” on the table, or a “smash”. At Indian restaurants, frozen mounds of rasmalai or mishti doi may be satisfactorily destroyed to be spooned up.

Why do chefs in India continue to serve so much pastiche on the plate while pretending it is original work? One reason is that audiences lap it up. In the last one month, I ate at three new modern Indian restaurants, all plating roughly the same dishes. While these were clichés for me, the clientele in general seemed to admire the “novelty”.

Most middle-class Indians are underexposed to high-end, luxury dining. When ideas of iconic dishes are copied by mid-level eateries catering to another segment of the market, it is easy to mistake these as “new”.

There’s more to it. A majority of Indian chefs need to let go of their intellectual laziness, where all the research they do is on the internet, particularly Instagram accounts of top chefs and restaurants.

It is a grave disservice to the culinary traditions of India, full of complexity and diversity. There are lesser known dishes and culinary traditions beyond the dishes that chefs pick up as inspiration. There are flavours beyond panipuri, dhokla, rasam and kebab. What about putting mangochi, soita and kuzhambu on the menu — cooked with all the intricacies intact?

If Indian chefs do not step into homes and put in time, energy and effort into researching nuanced dishes that have never been plated up commercially, India’s culinary culture will be greatly compromised.

We will have a generation of diners who only recognise kitsch chocolate golgappas and trashy, simplistic versions of street dishes as “Indian food”, instead of the wide and wondrous variety we have at our disposal.

And then, if someone, somewhere in the wild, wicked world of Twitter tells us that they hate Indian food, we will hardly be in a place to respond: Do you have taste buds?