Curious are the ways of our babus and political bosses! They come up with one or the other weird farmans (dictates) in the guise of rationalizing things.
The latest salvo from the babudom is to clip the liquor quota of troops – a move that comes at a time when the ration facilities of military officers has been curtailed.
While world over, forces are pampered by best of the salaries and perks, in our country our government and officers vie each other in reducing the benefits of our brave defense personnel in one way or the other. At this point of time when India is faced with serious threats from across the borders, also when internal insurgency is growing, the need of time is to keep up the morale of our forces high. Instead, we want keep they “dry” !
And the logic is being put forth is that it is being done to thwart misuse as well as illicit sale of the subsidised alcohol to civilians. We all know that Defence personnel get liquor cheap from the government’s canteen stores department (CSD).
A wise voice from the power corridors echoes that there is surely a plan to reduce the existing quota of liquor of different ranks in the armed forces. This would help in checking the sale of alcohol outside the forces to civilians and there is also a feeling that such high quantity of liquor is not required any more for personnel. He knows the best, I believe . Or is it a general feeling of our soldiers and officers ? No one bothered to know before deciding about it.
According to the proposal, the allocation for serving and retired officers would be reduced from the existing ten bottles to five bottles, while serving junior commissioned officers would get only four bottles instead of the seven they receive now.
Once the plan gets implemented, the biggest cut would be in the quota for the jawans who will get only two bottles a month – three less than what they are getting right now.
Subsidised canteen liquor is a major draw for civilians as it is considered to be unadulterated and costs Rs 400-500 less than the price for comparable goods in civilian shops.
According to a study last year, alcohol is the highest-selling category and contributes 26% of the CSD’s sales, followed by toiletries.
The canteen stores department is also planning to make a large number of changes to check the misuse of facilities meant only for defence personnel as it is reducing the stock to be procured by the unit-run canteens, which sell these subsidised goods to military personnel.
According to the directives issued by the quartermaster general branch of the Army, there would be a limit on the grocery articles also as the allocation is considered to be too high at present.
The quota of bathing soap, washing powder, noodles, soft drink, tea, coffee, ketchup, baby milk powder, shampoo, mustard oil and desi ghee is expected to be cut in a big way to prevent their sale outside.
Over the years, the CSDs have emerged as one of the biggest retail chains in the country. They have over one crore serving and retired personnel as well as their families as their direct customers across the country and provide all kinds of articles to military personnel in even the remotest corners, including Ladakh and the Northeast.
The string of about 3,900 stores made gains of Rs 236 crore in the 2014-15 fiscal year, emerging as the country’s most profitable retail chain ahead of several big-name private players.