As per the times of india, Swapnil was flying a very old variant (type 77) aka Mig-21FL aka "Fishbed D".
Apparently this variant was not originally equipped with the zero/zero ejection system. The zero/zero system allows a pilot to eject when the airplane is at the ground level and has zero velocity. Most modern figthers are equipped with exactly such a system. In fact the later variants of even the Mig-21 are equipped with this system. The Mig-21 Bis has it.
"At about 1966 a new variant was put in service named MiG-21PFM “Fishbed F” which included all the major and minor changes of earlier PF-1/PF-2 models in one (including the SPS & third fin chord increase) and also some new equipment as redesigned cockpit canopy hinging to starboard with conventional windscreen. Problems with older ejection seats led to introduction of
KM-1 zero/zero ejection seats which was to save life of many pilots in future and ongoing conflicts "
Did the IAF retrofit this system on type 77 aircraft? If yes, why didn't it work in Swapnil's case? If not, why not? Were there technical difficuties in retrofitting the system? Were there financial considerations? I'm trying to find out. If the reader has any insight at all and would like to share it please leave a comment. If you do not wish to leave a public comment and would like to contact me directly, please send me an email at email@example.com. This id is not linked to the blog in any way.