How Vendors At CSD Are Playing With Our Soldiers’ Health

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A country is only as strong as the soldiers who defend her borders! And what are we feeding our soldiers? Sub standard products? This eye opening report from the CAG states that food, beverages and other daily use items being supplied to the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) for consumption by defense personnel are increasing failing quality tests.

As a new and concerned mommy, I have been researching brands that are natural and organic to keep my baby and family safe from harmful chemicals. It was during this endeavor that I became aware of so many MNCs brands that use harmful chemicals in the production of food stuffs and other daily things we use.

It is really disturbing to read such reports and learn that defense personnel are deliberately being sold even more sub standard  products which could be health damaging– all so that companies can make a fast buck.

CSD was started in 1948 as a nonprofit venture, to ensure that armed personnel get the products they need, even in far flung places like the NorthEast and the J&K.  Today the CSD is the most profitable retail chain in India, ahead of Future & Reliance Retail . While I think CSD has done a great and commendable job serving the armed forces so far, it is time to look at them objectively as see what actual value they are providing today.

Quoting from the article mentioned above:

“Markets like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand used to report big army canteen demand, but this has progressively reduced with the emergence of strong ecommerce and retailers, who are selling the entire range and sometimes with promotions,” said Videocon Chief Operating Officer CM Singh.“

With the advent of good roads and better transport most army stations are now better connected, than they were in 1950’s. In those days one would have been hard pressed to find a service provider who would ferry goods to such places! Nowadays one can even choose packers and movers or book tickets sitting at home! The emergence of online marketing and e-commerce companies offering huge discounts– brings the price of many items at par with their counterparts being sold in army canteens. 

Looking closely at the quality of brands being sold in the CSD – some will be names you wouldn’t even recognize! In fact, many suspect that since companies are assured that (given the allure of low prices) products will invariably be sold; they even introduce brands and products on experimental basis.

The problem isn’t limited to unknown brands. Lab reports have found many products being sold in CSD to be unfit for human consumption – including Kingfisher Beer. The CAG report has stated that “Stock worth Rs 8.43 lakh of the Kingfisher Beer sub-standard batch was sold to the customers.”

Granted it’s not as pressing as a national security issue, but is it not of importance how the health of defense personnel is being compromised under the garb of discounted products?

Officers are slowly realizing that they can get same products at similar prices in the open market as well as online. Ecommerce sites have many offers on different credit and debit cards and any contentious shopper can get good products at great prices.

But what about our jawans? Yes, they are also slowly becoming tech savy, but who is going to make them aware of the ill health effects of the ‘discounted CSD products’ and encourage them to make an informed choice?

Shouldn’t we be more vigilant about what is being fed to our soldiers and officers? If the foundation is weak, how can the building stand strong? A soldier’s health and training is the backbone of any nations defense. Shouldn’t any vendor compromising on quality of food stuffs being sold in CSDs be blacklisted?

What is your view? What do you think should be done to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

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