Military & Aerospace

Who else is the beneficiary of CSD Liquor?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 11 Apr , 2015

Way back in 1995, I was posted as Additional Director General of Supplies & Transport in Army Headquarters. Apart from my routine responsibilities, I was also given additional charge of managing Army Headquarters (AHQ) canteen, as its Chairman. It wasn’t much of a prized post, since a retired Colonel appointed as the Canteen Manager with around 50 to 60 civilian employees working under him, was essentially accountable, for the day-to-day functioning of the canteen.

Therefore, my area of focus would be to strictly monitor the indenting and sale of such items. For this purpose, computers would be installed in the canteen and sale of liquor strictly regulated through issue of new cards after due verification of the cardholders.

Soon after taking over the additional responsibility, I decided to pay a visit to the AHQ canteen during the lunch hour break to get a ‘Feedback’ from the employees with regard to their working conditions as also motivate them to provide better service to the customers. After patiently listening to their woes and giving ‘on-the-spot’ decisions to improve their working conditions, I made a remark that while being posted at Delhi on three earlier occasions, I had never patronized AHQ canteen, as more often than not, all the attractive consumer items including popular brands of liquor were seldom accessible to the customers. Therefore, my area of focus would be to strictly monitor the indenting and sale of such items. For this purpose, computers would be installed in the canteen and sale of liquor strictly regulated through issue of new cards after due verification of the cardholders. Further, the existing liquor cards in use would be discontinued straightaway and destroyed.

The next day, all hell was let loose against me. Big posters were pasted at every nook and corner of Sena Bhawan and South Block, making serious allegations against me. Radhe Shyam (name changed), a labourer and the union leader of AHQ Canteen civilian employees, having three buses and two flats in Delhi, threatened that there would be ‘Mass Joint Self Immolation’ by all employees at Jantar Mantar on the Republic Day (due after 10 days or so), if Maj Gen Chander Nandwani was not immediately removed from the post of Chairman of the canteen. News items on similar lines were also published in the reputed national dailies. The allegations made against me included taking of a big bribe for purchase new computers, favouring purchase of specific liquor brands, coercing women employees for sexual favours and so on. I was particularly tickled by the allegation of sexual favours and cheekily informed my wife that surely my standing in this regard was now far better than what she had imagined during past several years of our married life!!!

My preliminary investigations revealed that a perfect nexus existed between the canteen civilian staff union leader Radhe Shyam, a few officials of MOD and a large number of politicians, to whom liquor was being supplied from AHQ canteen, on a regular basis.

I was immediately summoned by the Quarter Master General (QMG), under whom the canteen functioned, and was asked to brief him on this sudden turn of events when everything was going on so smoothly before I took over the charge of the AHQ canteen. I requested for a couple of days time to make discreet enquiries. Before I could say ’Jack Robinson’, there was a note from the MOD signed by a Director level officer asking the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to comment on the allegations made against me and take all possible measures, including removing me from the post of Chairman, to avoid any embarrassment to the Govt., should the threat of ‘Mass Self-Immolation’ materialize, just prior to the Republic Day. What a joke! The matter did not end there. This note from MOD was followed by another note through which, a memorandum signed by 13 MPs and addressed to the Defence Minister, was also forwarded to the COAS, urging him to remove me from the post. This raised the hackles of the then COAS, late General BC Joshi. He called the QMG to his office and asked him to take the matter very seriously and put up a draft reply to both the notes of the MOD, for his approval. In the meanwhile an interim reply was sent to the MOD that the matter was being investigated.

My preliminary investigations revealed that a perfect nexus existed between the canteen civilian staff union leader Radhe Shyam, a few officials of MOD and a large number of politicians, to whom liquor was being supplied from AHQ canteen, on a regular basis. Of course the demand increased manifold during the time of elections. What intrigued me the most was the ‘modus operandi’ of smuggling out of such large quantities of liquor, with the Military Police and several other security agencies working in the highly sensitive areas of Army Headquarters and MOD. The actuality came to light when a disgruntled ex civilian employee of the canteen spilled the beans to me on promise of strict anonymity. I was shaken out of my bones when the truth came to light and immediately ran to the office of QMG to give him the details. He dis-believed me and decided to get the facts verified through a field security agency of the army and learnt to his horror that what I had disclosed to him was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The court of Inquiry proved these allegations to be false, baseless and malicious with the sole aim of having me removed from the post due to ulterior motives.

Well this is how the system worked. The union leader had in his custody hundreds of old liquor cards of servicemen and/or ex-servicemen who had either left the station or had died. He drew choicest brands of liquor from the canteen in the names of these personnel and had simultaneously perfected a distribution system through which the liquor was delivered right at the doorsteps of the selected MOD officials and several politicians apart from other influential clients in the ministry. Surprisingly, right next to the AHQ canteen was the parking lot of VIP staff cars and some of these staff car drivers had been bought over by Radhe Shyam by giving them free bottles of rum and other lucrative canteen items such as expensive watches etc. During the lunch break when security was lax, these drivers would reverse their cars next to the canteen bulk store, wherefrom crates of liquor were loaded into the dickey of these staff cars. Radhe Shyam instructed these drivers to deliver the liquor crates at various locations after dropping the VIPs at their respective residences. Wow what an ingenuous idea! The irony of the matter is that the staff cars with the flags & star plates of Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals (including the QMG), without the knowledge of the occupants, were being illegitimately used by unscrupulous individuals for their unholy deeds. Sadly these very senior officers had unknowingly become couriers of liquor for the politicians. No wonder there was such a sharp reaction from all quarters, when I had only hinted at introducing computers to check the sale of liquor from the AHQ canteen!

The Chief on being informed of the facts of the case directed the QMG to give me full protection and total support to cleanse the system. I obtained legal advice from a leading civilian lawyer. He advised me to request for an enquiry against myself since I had taken over the post barely 10 days earlier and had nothing to hide. Thereafter, on my specific request on file, a court of inquiry was ordered by the QMG to investigate into the allegations made by Radhe Shyam, which were supported by the MOD and the MPs. The court of Inquiry proved these allegations to be false, baseless and malicious with the sole aim of having me removed from the post due to ulterior motives. To avoid several heads from rolling, the MOD and the MPs were politely told by the then COAS verbally that the matter had been thoroughly investigated by a high-powered court of Inquiry, which had opined that there was no truth in the allegations made by the union leader. Hence the matter was not being pursued further to save all concerned from grave embarrassment.

On directions of the QMG, the services of the union leader were terminated under my signatures and the whole system revamped with the introduction of computers, thus bringing to an end the sordid drama of “The Canteen Liquor Connection of MOD!”

My only regret still remains that the allegation of my so-called sexual exploits with women employees was also quashed in the bargain, thus proving the obvious!!!

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40 thoughts on “Who else is the beneficiary of CSD Liquor?

  1. This may be just one part of the jigsaw. Canteen cards with photo and chip have been in i use since donkey’s yrs and strict checks are made by csd staff at entry. This kind of nexus just cannot operate without connivance of offrs. There will be something more to it. All cards are software based, why were they not blocked when the holder died? There are three fingers pointing back at us when we point one finger at others.

  2. What a sordid tale and I can believe every word!
    Canteen Staff nexus with unauthorised civilians to get Canteen items and rampant misuse by entitled Servicemen and Vetrans is easy to spot in any Canteen.
    Liquor sadly is a very profitable transact-able item, so are Refrigerators, Washing m/cs, Air Conditioners etc.It is indeed a sad state.
    Manohar Parrikar made Def Civilians also entitled for Canteen items.
    So the earlier problem of own staff pestering Officers for helping out in getting Canteen costly items must have died!
    I must congratulate the Gen for standing firm against the Union Leader and his cohorts!

  3. What a sordid tale and I can believe every word!
    Canteen Staff nexus with unauthorised civilians to get Canteen items and rampant misuse by entitled Servicemen and Vetrans is easy to spot in any Canteen.
    Liquor sadly is a very profitable transact-able item, so are Refrigerators, Washing m/cs, Air Conditioners etc.It is indeed a sad state.
    Manohar Parrikar made Def Civilians also entitled for Canteen items.
    So the earlier problem of own staff pestering Officers for helping out in getting Canteen costly items must have died!

  4. Sir
    This is a common ailment that has been affecting CSDs all over the country. Considering the commitment, where its not feasible to utilise serving personnel, army is forced to employ civilian staff and that causes pilferage.
    But what actually pains me is to see servicemen during the British era who retire well before August 1947, are still considered ex-servicemen but were actually part of the Colonial British Army, whereas soldiers of INA are treated as “deserters”! The definition of ESM with reference to those retiring before August 1947 or January 1951 should be clarified. As for me, those served under the British and not under the Indian Republic, should not be treated as ESM.

  5. I wish we had some more offers with similar calibre.Now this nexus by the exservicemen staff of exservicemen canteens is being carried out openly
    and do hope Army wakes up to stop it.It is bringing bad name to Army.

  6. I think the optimum could not be exploited out of this case. When one could get at the bottom of the matter, then army should have exposed all the wrong doers. Why to take a middle path in such cases. By just letting it die down, army did not do justice.In fact, this was the opportune time to expose the gang which unfortunately was missed out.

  7. Pls tell me widows of exservice-men in army are entitled for how much bottle of liquor.I have read in CSD canteen that NOK of deceased person is allowed for 50% of quota.Is it true? Is there any official letter so that widows of exservicemen can get liquor quota?

  8. I heard the very same was happening at all most all the canteens all over the country (Army, Navy, AF canteen), Since I left service a decade+ ago, I never visited any canteen. Perhaps my ex service man card is being used by some one !

  9. Sir, having served with you during 1993-94 in ASC School Bareilly, I can imagine how meticulously you must have carried out that task of revamping the then existing corrupt system in Army Headquarters canteen involving civilian employees, staff of MOD, and the politicians. We are really proud of you. Regards. Sarbjit Bajwa

  10. The basic idea of CSD was to make available to the officers and men of the services posted in remote far flung field areas the items for their daily needs be it tooth paste or soaps and detergents or shoe polish. Liquor too could be considered as a daily need item for soldiers on call of duty away from their families. However with addition of luxury cars and many similar items to the CSD inventory the ordinary soldier and his needs have become secondary. An overhaul of the entire idea of CSD facilities is overdue and must be done early. After all it is the common tac payer of the country who ultimately bears the heavy price of the malpractises.

    • Sorry I beg to differ Mr Ojha… Armed forces are the highest single most tax paying institution in this country… Apart from that they make fairly high contributions to a series of nonpublic funds.. Apart from paying rent water n electricity bills.. In other language we pay for our own facilities.. With tax payers money maybe we buy the weapons… Go ahead stop paying taxes then

  11. Well done Gen Nandwani,
    proud of you and I wish we have more senior officers like you in army which has become subservient to civilians of this stature(like of radhey shyam).
    I hope article is read by senior officers if they can spare time from their self serving interests.
    God help the army.

  12. Sir, I salute you for the courage shown in clearing the muck in a place that the common man looks up with awe. I know an airman who constructed a house with the money he made by selling the stuff in large numbers. I wonder whether they’ll be peace in that house!

  13. THE ARMED FORCES MUST BE MAGNANMIOUS AND GIVE A QUOTTA OF THREE TO FIVE BOTTLES OF LIQUOR TO ALL CIVILANS , DRIVERS , AND MOD EMPLOYEES IN DELHI AND OTHER AREAS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY .LET THEM ALSO DO CHEERS AT CSD LIQUOR . AFTER ALL THE PURPOSE OF CSD IS TO PROVIDE CHEAP AND SAFE LIQUOR BY BUYING IN BULK AND HENCE THE REDUCED PRICE . CIVILANS ARE OUR OWN AND IN ANY CASE THEY MANGE TO BUY WHAT EVER THEY WANT ,

  14. At this age of competition do we Faujis really require the CSD services?
    My personal humble experience is that in a month how many daily need item we really purchase for ourselves? The card definitely gives you a sense of one upmanship in the society where lower income group people makes a beeline to get their needs fulfilled genuinely or to enhance their monthly income by investing in purchase of CSD item through these large hearted GENTLEMAN AND THE OFFICERS.So in a way we all become a courier to these genuine crooks.
    Now because of these crooks many a steps are incorporated to counter slippages, but has it worked? It only has caused aggravation to the woes of a genuine user.
    With the FDI and retail chain shops in abundance ,with a greater spectrum of choice in quality ,price and after sales service why do we need to maintain these white elephant in METRO cities ? One can justify its existence in field areas but not in Metros.
    Now in house also every soldier knows how much of canteen share profit is used where and in whose benevolence!
    So why not let the nation also have its fair share of items reserved for CSD , available in open market.

  15. My sole uncle in the forces who did not die in service refused to use his rank, the CSD facilities, or respond to invitations extended to him by stations or commands that he had commanded in the past or Governors and Presidents after retirement. He would raise his eyebrows at those trying to cadge cheap CSD liquor off him. That was sufficient. But he was a King’s Commissioned Officer and belonged to a different day and age. Today, even officers are given uniforms and rations like other ranks (but inadequate medical services, respect, equipment, ammunition, weaponry or concern for surviving families!) What with Netas signing the parchment, this is truly turning the code of chivalry into Lajpat Nagar Market!!!

  16. Excellent analysis General! However, it is mighty strange that you found faults with only the Civillians and none from the military !! For those in the know, the connivance of serving and retired officials is obvious. But then the military is never to blame, it’s always the Civillians, isn’t it ? I’m sure the failure of our troops in the border, that which is happening many times, the increasing incidence of fratricide in the army, etc., is merely the handiwork of some “civillian” trade union leader or driver. Congratulations.

    • Mr Sanjay, you are partially right. Whatever you said does exist but not at a scale which civilians undertake. The multiplication factor would be around 50 times if not more. How come you feel so hurt ? No army persons offered me any incentives for the few tasks I have done during my 20 year stint in the army. but on three occasions I was offered incentives to look the other side. believe me, I felt so impotent for not be able to break his legs, every time.

  17. THE ARMED FORCES CSD MUST BE SHIFTED TO DHAULA KUAN BECAUSE IT IS MEANT FOR SERVICE PERSONNEL AND THEY RESIDE THERE. THE CIVILAN CROOKS DRIVERS , CANTEEN STAFF KNOW THAT MOD CIVILAN S MPS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE FAUJI . IN ANY CASE THIS LIQUOR IS MEANT TO KILL THE FAUJIS OR SHORTEN THEIR LIFE SO THAT PENSIONS ARE NOT PAID FOR LONG TIME . A ARMY MAN WHO THROUGH NDA , IMA , MOUNTIANS AND DESRTS , JUNGLES AND FORBIDDEN PLACES SURVIVES AND COMES TO AFHQ DELHI SHORTENS HIS LIFE WHEN HE SEES THE CIVILANS MAKING MONEY AND ENJOYING LIFE . SURVEYS HAVE SHOWN THE RETIRED NCOS LIFE LESS THAN 62 YRS , JCOS 65 OFFICERS 72 AND DISCIPLINED FLAG RANKS 77YRS . HOWEVER THE POT BELLIED MOD CIVILAN CROOKS MPS LIVE OVER 84 YRS . THE ARMED FORCES HQS MUST BE SHIFTED AWAY FROM PRESENT LOCATION TO DHAULA KUAN WHERE SWIMMING RIDING GAMES GOLF ARE MADE COMPULSERY FOR THE OFFICERS AND RANKS POSTED IN DELHI . THE SENA BHAVAN /MOD OFFICES SHOULD HAVE ONLY A SKELTON CREW OF BRIGS AND ABOVE FLAG RANKS AND NO LIQUOR CANTEEN AROUND . THE OFFICERS AND MEN LIVING AWAY FROM DHAULA KUAN CAN HAVE THERE LIQUOR DELIVERD IN RATION TRUCKS EVERY WEEK MONTH.SIMILARLY THE NAVY CANTEEN AT INS INDIA BE SHIFTED TO CHANKYAPURI. AS A FORMER CANTEEN OFFICER OF INS INDIA IT WAS A HEADAKE DEALING WITH CIVIANS OF ALL HUES WHO WOULD GO TO ANY LENGTH FOR LIQUOR .
    .

  18. My heartiest congratulations to General Nandwani. While your actions in the matter may not have come to light, they are possibly a shining torch in the darkness of corruption which has seeped through in all levels of our society. The fact that you were completely supported by the QMG and COAS speaks a lot about the high ethos followed by the Indian Army.

    Jai Hind!

    Nishant Gupta

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