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Can the govt dictate what cars military officers & veterans can buy from the canteens?

A new order by the Modi government puts a price cap on the vehicles that can be bought by the armed forces from the subsidised Canteen Stores Department.

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A new order by the Narendra Modi government putting a price cap on the vehicles that can be bought by the armed forces from the subsidised Canteen Stores Department has upset many. A cap has also been put on how frequently cars can be purchased from the stores: one in eight years.

ThePrint asks: Can the govt dictate what cars military officers & veterans can buy from the canteens?

Armed forces are trying to control CSD expenditure in order to prevent overshooting budget

Snehesh Alex Philip
Senior associate editor, ThePrint

No, the government cannot dictate what cars military officers and veterans buy. But yes, they can dictate what cars they can choose from when it comes to the government-given subsidy.

There is no restriction on the kind of cars that can be bought from the open market, just like how you and I will buy one.

If an officer has the money, she is free to drive a BMW or a Porche. But when it comes to buying it through the government subsidy route, the MoD and the Army headquarters can certainly decide what cars can be bought because at the end of the day, subsidy means a loss to the exchequer.

An officer, other personnel, and veterans can save a minimum of Rs 75,000 when they buy their vehicles through the Canteen Stores Department (CSD).

Military personnel get an exemption from GST on the value of the car in addition to the regular cash benefits.

Interestingly, Army authorities say that while last year the auto sales decreased across the country, sale through CSD increased by 40 per cent.

Last year, the CSD sold cars worth Rs 6,000 crore. However, the heavy volume of transactions resulted in a carryover liability of Rs 4,500 crore to car manufacturers.

With the new restrictions, the Indian armed forces are aiming to control the expenditure of the CSD in order to prevent the budget from being overshot.

Govt’s decision on what cars can be bought from canteens will affect morale of armed forces

Amrita Nayak Dutta
Special correspondent, ThePrint

The government’s decision to interfere in what cars military officers and veterans can buy from the canteens will adversely affect the morale of the armed forces.

Not only will it be seen as a move to curb their privileges, but also as an attempt to dictate their right to buy a car of their choice, which they can afford.

Despite all their exaggerated references to the armed forces, the move also portrays the Narendra Modi government as one that is against armed forces, especially because it comes amid debates of the same government opposing the NFU (non-functional upgrade) for armed forces, which they have been demanding for years now.

Before implementing any such move, the government should have warned the rank and file of the forces about the move, because lack of transparency about such impending decisions related to them and their basic privileges, such as buying a car of their choice, is hurting the armed forces.

It is doubtful if the government carried out a proper cost-benefit analysis before deciding on this move.

In such a situation, there would be little saving, even as it would make the armed forces disillusioned.

Armed forces blessed with a lot of facilities and privileges. Okay if govt puts brakes on some

Manisha Mondal
Journalist, ThePrint

If the government is planning to curb the budget of Canteen Stores Department, they obviously can. The armed forces are blessed with a number of facilities, and can avail groceries, cars, branded suitcases, sunglasses, shoes from canteens at a subsidised rate.

I remember when I was a kid, I used to see these big army trucks parked outside officers’ quarters, and helpers carrying packets of milk and eggs from those trucks. Even though this facility has been stopped, no one can deny the massive privileges it afforded.

So, the argument that the government should not take away the ‘few joys given to the army’ is unacceptable. They have been given a lot. And it is not like this move has put brakes on all the rights of the armed forces. Cheap cars will still be available, but no more preferred vehicles, and no bragging about Jeeps and SUVs.

Also read: Pakistan military plans budget cuts, but India thinks they’ll just juggle numbers

Perks and incentives are an integral aspect of the romanticised army way of life

Kairvy Grewal
Journalist, ThePrint

According to officials, these new restrictions have been imposed to regulate and balance the CSD budget. But this imposition is creating resentment amongst the members of armed forces, both serving and veterans. In an ideal scenario, the government can dictate the kind of cars that can be purchased by officers. However, imposing restrictions on subsidies provided to armed forces is a difficult line to take since it suggests that one is devaluing their services to the country.

Even within these subsidies there are certain segregations. The officers can buy a vehicle valued up to Rs 12 lakh from the canteen; the jawans, on the other hand, can buy a car up to worth Rs 6.5 lakh. This difference can create bitterness among the members of the armed forces. One way to avoid this would be to subsidise a standard amount, instead of subsidising on car models specifically.

Additionally, canteens and other subsidies have always operated as perks for young men and women to join the armed forces. These incentives are an integral aspect of the romanticised Army way of life. It is imperative that these subsidies aren’t restricted in order to keep the morale of defence forces up.

Also read: Twitter suspends Indian Army Chinar Corps handle, then restores it

This issue points to a broader problem: India’s terrible habit of living beyond its means

Srijan Shukla
Reporter, ThePrint

There are two distinct issues here.

First, members of the Indian armed forces make invaluable contributions to the country, and they do so at relatively meagre salaries. In such a scenario, it is only fair that essential goods are provided to them at subsidised costs, through Canteen Stores Department (CSD).

Second, while the state is paying for their essential utilities, it doesn’t need to do so for non-essential and luxury goods, such as cars. This is not to say that Indian soldiers don’t deserve to drive the cars they like. They, of course, do.

The problem is the Indian state can’t afford such expenditure.

Last year, the CSD sold cars worth Rs 6,000 crore and had a carryover liability of Rs 4,500 crore to various automobile manufacturers. These liabilities account for nearly 1.5 per cent of India’s defence budget.

At a time when the central government’s fiscal space is rapidly shrinking, it is understandable that price caps are being imposed for military personnel buying cars from CSD.

This issue, in a way, points to a broader problem: India’s terrible habit of living beyond its means.


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  1. Are you aware that the state of Tamil Nadu buys free cars for all IPS officers of the state. It becomes their own property after a 5 year lease period when it is hypothecated to the state government !!!!!

  2. Well personally asking how many have the guts to serve in -50°C to -60°C temperature where freezing winds may literally freeze you to death how many can beat the heat of +50°C in heat without much water for days I am pretty sure none of these politicians can. It is easy to give orders but hardly any of these govts can see the hardships faced by these fine men. Be it safeguarding the borders or being the first responders to calamity-earthquakes, floods, tsunamis army has never failed this nation. But these politicians have always failed us to their promises be it army or nation. I would like to ask this government “kala dhan lane wale the kaha gaya?” And talking about taxes all army personnel are tax payers. And even if certain amount of tax is levied from csd purchase that shouldn’t be controlled by the government. Govt should try catching tax defaulters and other corrupt people within the govt and nation. Taking a decision like this has definitely affected the morale of our troops and isn’t good for any Army which this Modi sarkar is reluctant to accept.

  3. The title of the story has been deliberately kept to be provocative.
    Of course govt is no one to decide on your choice of vehicle to drive. You want to drive a ferrari go ahead. Govt has no business so long it does not hurt the exchequer. One who can pay 30 L for a Mercedes does not require and if I dare say deserve CSD subsidy.
    Col C Pramanik

  4. How about the holy cows ie parlimentarians curb their preveledges & perks before they enforce on the armed forces . Media should take up such issues on a regular basis & not ehen incidence ‘ s happen . How shameful of media .

  5. Why the defence forces personnel? Why they dont cap politicians mp’s mla’s cabinet ministers..why pm goes on tour of different nations so frequently on tax payers expense..why not to cap that too? To save fiscal deficit as u

  6. All kind of comments & coverage of active journalism in this report!! But does any of above journalist know that a soldier even pays monthly contributions for his own life insurance. No insurance company provides Life insurance coverage for a person working in defence, as if he is protecting only his own house. You never get time to cover issues like this??

  7. Great views from all some had disturbed the sleep, so each is effective in a manner or two
    A jawan has finally become a synonym to CSD and subsidy.
    Perspective of financial experts, socialist and the new govt must put endeavour to tryst with stopping salaries. I hope the ethos of military training shall sustains and soldiers shall follow the order of their chief. They had been trained and taken oath to fight for the country and not to serve the country like ministries, corporates and NGOs. So they shall not beg for salaries before taking the war cry at the battlefield.
    But these.days doubt comes on their credentials and to the sanctity of an order.
    Credentials – as the customs and ethos of military are now open for the comments of those who donot know sweat and blood.
    Orders – As nowadays they are made like gossips incomplete, unclear, verbose, open to comments by anybody and everybody. Orders now have financial aspects and reasons.
    Military has been used and abused by administrator on the name of modernization facilities budget , politicians as they pay too much homage and forget if they lose election, filmstar and sportsmen – they use them for marketing their own image. Journalist keep an eye for creating gossip on uniform in all forms.
    Interestingly the great army raised from the history where ppl contributed from their home to feed, political leaders stood straight for them, writers wrote poetry for them….is now transforming.
    This transformation shall be cultural as it cannot be untouched.
    We should be amazed if they qualify to fight coz I feel they wanted to serve these days!

  8. Everyone comments with his view point developed over an experience and observation. I suggest withdraw all the facilities which are making the govt poor. But also withdraw forces from states like JK they are making the country more poor.There is subsidy for everyone in the country, which starts from tax slab. Why youth from a farmer family or from hills is going to join army? To get subsidized rations, provided by politically jabbed contractors the quality has been in news many times. Neither he is happy nor he can leave such subsidy. Close all these CSD and ration and uniforms. Let the sons of soil stay with their parents and earn living at their place like we do. Those who donot get selected or recruited also get good life with family viz a babu , salesman, inspector, an IPS or a film star. They join at a time when these subsidies donot matter. They join when they are in teens. Look at moms and dad who are sending their teens to learn music or art or to tuitions and see some scary parents signing a death cum policy with Govt of India that if you return him dead, we want him in tri colour with some money. They keep that tri colour as if they shall be heard by some policy maker or executor.
    May you all know even if a terrorist die his family gets financial aid!
    So if the youth start staying home as there shall be no ration no subsidy, then with such corpus we should start importing robots to defend our industries factories and cities. That shall be growth for the nation.
    Those who see officer and jawan and their family enjoying at Barmer Jaiselmer Arunachal Mizoram JK and small village like cant s. Please see how they travel. They are loaded in trucks. Ride their gypsy everyday at 45 + temperature, wearing a Terry cot uniform. They commute in them for 8 to 10 hrs. They donot have freedom for working hours, to choose his clothes for office.
    Am sure you all must gain some experience and observation to be a better citizen. A perfect citizen is one who know how to sacrifice for his fellow men and country.
    We have become jealous on the comfort of a solider as mentioned by many.
    Its absolutely right! He and his family must know to remain smiling in tough terrain and times. When I see ladies sitting in gypsy and travelling to their husband, they are found in joy, despite without AC and dust setting inside so called cars. How can they remain happy in such tough times of separations at young age leaving their own careers behind for idiots who only have words of love and no time of togetherness.
    We the rest from army are jealous from their happy life. We are the tax payers! Remember every officer pays tax and jawans even donot earn an amount that they qualify for tax, when they qualify they too pay tax. They donot get ppl around to sell mutual funds and policies in those beautiful hills where network is also a beauty in a mobile. They hardly know investments, as they invest time in their health to fight, they invest time on their weapons to make us secure. Those who think they are most happy, trust me they are correct, as they follow.the orders. Hope they shall continue to follow order of their chief.
    The testimony cannot be CSD it shall be revoking salaries. Let’s see by doing that and hope the new govt shall get soldiers who serve without salaries, but govt may find a challenge still, to convince many intellects, as defense budget shall still be needed to give them food and weapon at battlefield else they may die like we have death to the respect for JAWAN on the name of CSD and subsidy. He has been left to a synonym for CSD. Poor journalism and much poor leadership to lead forces.

  9. Ms Mondal ….
    Seriously get your facts straight
    Perks and facilities eh …. you think all the army does is live a grand lifestyle and smoke cigars ? Think again …. They know the value of being alive ….. So before you write your fanciful stories …. Take time to research your story … If you can afford it visit the kargil war memorial at Dras …. Only to read the age of each soldier that was martyred there and try whispering to yourself …That it’s ok since they were enjoying their perks …..
    Really appalling standards…

    @ some one who mentioned living beyond means ….. The soldiers know and understand the value of Life and living every day …. They very well understand, that they may not be there the next moment, so might as well enjoy now …..
    While It’s Cool for the God of cricket Sachin Tendulkar to ask a waiver of custom duty on his Ferrari although he earns in crores but the soldiers should be careful of govt deduction although they pay with their life !

    Seriously God bless you and God bless India..

  10. Ms Mondal I think you need to go on the work front at least serve for only a month to know the difficulties faced by army personnel. Sitting in AC and talking non-sense is very easy. Army personnel work from a temperature ranging -50degree to +50 degree . Even they don’t get relief if circumstances like flood and all and you are talking about not to give them these facility. People like you do not deserve to be given any respect who don’t respect our Army and it’s difficulties. Please be thorough with things before writing non – sense.

  11. Very correctly brought out. Miss Mondal is just looking this topic just to write and explore her opportunities in journalism, I suggest you to take good topics and research on them first before writing loosely on the internet over people who are selflessly working for the nation and mind you not for your “benefits” but these are privileges given in honor of the nature of job they are doing. Why don’t you point fingers at other govt employees who are also getting lot of benefits from the govt. Because there benefits are not being cut on the pretext of cost to exchequer. Miss pls write on issues that’ll help in changing things on ground such as rooting out corruption and new innovations done around the world which can help save our environment rather than bashing our own army who is safeguarding the country without asking questions.

  12. Manisha mondal.. None of the write ups in the whole thread touched me, than your such sensitive one. Beautiful thoughts. Respect. Huge trucks, eggs and all. Think you never could move out of childhood. So start writing for Disney. And yes you surely dint see coffins being unloaded from huge army trucks, that too for people like you.

  13. First politicians should use cheap cars and other free facilities which they and their families enjoy life long. Why this policy for army personnel. Can politician fight with terrorist or can they give duty in dark forest overnight in heavy rain heavy winter and under continuous sun heat in summers. First start this policy with top level. Why there is difference??????.

    • Don’t compare 500+ Lok Sabha MPs with more than 20 lakh armed forces personals of India…..anough of politicians bashing…..
      Don’t waste the tex payer’s money for your wims and fances

  14. Amid this all new rules and regulations forced upon Army personnel for buying new cars, I ask myself if I envied Army people for getting this subsidiary on Cars from CSD canteens, YES I did. Next I ask myself, do I want this GST waiver taken away from them? NOT AT ALL.

    Not from the people who work sincerely, work only for our country, our pride, and while doing so they won’t hesitate for a moment if it comes to give the ultimate sacrifice.

    Now for people like me, who work for corporate firms, just look at your salary slip and find out how much non taxable allowances do we get ( really smart way to avoid taxes). After that you could start counting the eggs and breads that army get for working in -60° C at altitudes unimaginable for us to survive.

    I don’t even want to mention amount spent by politicians and other bureaucrats or subsidies given to them.

    I salute all defence personnel for their services to the country and its people. We just can’t thank them enough. Modi Ji definitely can’t …

  15. Respected PM Narendra Modi ji, Jai hind, jai Bharat, vande matram. Congratulations for the second term. Are you in the picture of all the restrictions imposed for purchase of cars by the armed forces personnel and the veterans through csd ? I am not sure about it because our PM will never allow the authorities to impose such restrictions for armed forces who always praises the acts of the army and understands the actual problems of armed forces. I personally request that the matter be looked into again and the recent orders be cancelled. Thank you and wish you a long life.

  16. Breaking an egg & onion with a 🔨 at Siachin boarder post by Army JAWANS (the news published by some journalist) The top brass of this country (IAS,IPS,IRS & many more sitting on a comfortable chair in AC room may think this is just a joke!! A veteran was put behind the bars being a”Foreigner”. after 30(R)30 years of Meritorious Service in Indian Army & served in Assam Police as Sub-Inspector for 6-7months or so and was released on bail. A Primary school teacher earns more salary and other benefits including social status then a Soldier (who is also equally qualified) breaking an egg & onion to fill his empty stomach and lays his life for safeguarding the boarders. A few perks in the name of CSD & Liquor are heavy on state exchequer and disrupt the economy!! Who begged for this? They are paying for everything from their meager salary and will pay for the REST if possible else will forgive. In a village in Rajasthan every third or fourth house has a person serving in the Indian Defence Forces and a maximum number of young VEERANGNAs with a child in their lap awaiting for One Rank One Pension as recommended by Khoshiyar committee till date!! Had it been a case of MP/MLA salary, pension (where as they are not Govt. servants) and others perks, only raising one hand is enough to increase the same many folds. Enough is enough!!!

  17. Tell me why is the same not being done for capf;s.why are all the perks and previleges being removed from the army only.why don’t you do some austerity for other white elephants of the government.considering what shitty places most of them stay…and the way govt. Is treating the army it will become even more unattractive for youngsterswho want to join the army.very soon you will have the roti;kapda;Makaan variety of people joining whose only aim in life is to get a government doing all this you will kill the quality of people who want to join.and very soon it will function like a municipality.has anyone heard of austerity for any other state or central government department?well I have not.i am surprised how these journalists are supporting this wierd decision.please make the forces an attractive option as the life is very harsh;places where these people live remote;ac in army homes and offices are rare and considered a luxury-can u believe it?please see the kind of houses given to army officers.. anyways god bless our army but we as countrymen will always let you down.oogh yes..I forgot..Jai Hind(live like a beggar)

  18. You journalists are just a bunch of jealous people. Join the army and get up at 4 am everyday, run 10 km everyday n stand staring at endless snow for 8 hrs a day and then talk. A bunch of losers. You can’t study hard enough to get a decent job, hence you turn to unresearched topics and pour your filth out on paper. Shame on the print to publish such rubbish. Is this what the younger generation doing to journalism?

  19. Manisha Mondal has seen in her childhood huge trucks of eggs and milk. But she in her adulthood never cared to see the posts in international borders, LC,LAC and in North east. She didn’t care to goto Siachen. And then without that share her lame views. Please don’t comment on the basis of what you observed as a child.

  20. To see mature editors write stuff just for the sake of it, should be such an embarrassment for “ThePrint”. People should research about it completely before writing such articles. Just because you saw huge trucks parked outside some base when you were a child, does not mean pan Army-Navy-AF things are all jelly-jolly. Speak to any officers or jawans/sailors, you will then understand. It’s easy to sit and write an article at 21 deg C well furnished room with probably tea/coffee dispensing machine just near you. Go live life of a soldier/sailor/airmen and then speak !

  21. Why can’t the members of parliament curtail the privileges they are enjoying. They should start with themselves.
    They get pension for life just by becoming MP once. Their meals in the canteen are highly subsidised, they have many more facilities which they don’t even deserve, they substantially hike their own salaries and perks as and when they wish etc. All these should be curtailed before doing any such thing in case of armed forces personnel.
    Politicians are real suckers.
    They are mere public representatives. But look at the way they feather their nests!!

  22. Why not the same cut for police canteens?? Why not a question on the privilege given to police & IAS? See the video that has gone viral and see what the armed forces have to go through while staying in field locations.
    Why do you call the army when you had 5 times the size of the army present in haryana state to handle the dera Sacha sauda problem? For the dirty jobs the army takes priority but for the privileges the army doesn’t. Great

  23. QqIt is not clear how 4500 crore of CSD was locked up in the inventory for cars because CSD never holds even a single car in its stock for sale to service personnel or veterans. Further, purchase orders are issued by CSD only after 100 % cost of the car is paid by the buyer to the CSD. If after receipt of payment, CSD withholds it’s release to the suppliers of vehicles, hen CSD is using that money to its other commercial ventures.
    Another aspect which needs clarification is as to which car in the range of 2500 cc is available for 12 lakhs

  24. Utter bullshit…. What privilege the poor soldiers actually get try to find than sitting in ac room and typing… Simply putting craps without researching…. 70percent of time they are posted in remote and border areas away from families and children…. The stress the in army is unimaginable to civilians who do govt jobs… The rigorous work 24hrs they do… Army personnel stay majority of there time in forward location in tent away from all comfort… They feel motivated when they know the nation care about them… They do more they are asked for… Keep doing this they won’t care for nation…corruption is lowest in army….. Though it’s there it’s lowest of any govt jobs…. People take pride to work in army…. Giving 14percent exception is very least a govt can do… At most they ll buy 2 cars… 1.5lakh…ie not much of money for giving away once freedom and life for nation.. Wining election in name of army is pitiful….

  25. Didn’t find any of the articles on the issue to be balanced.

    Could have been researched on and the put out on the Print

  26. This is utter nonsense. This Govt just wants to put restrictions on Armed Forces while raising the level of Police forces to that of Armed Forces. They are hell bent upon lowering the stature of the Armed Forces.

    You must understand there is just no comparison. And if this Govt so feels then they should disband the armed forces and let Police forces do all that Armed Forces do ! In any case they have one of tge greatest mandate now.

    In any case the Armed Forces are doing tbeir own job and additionally this ungrateful country with it’s ungrateful people and highly ungrateful politicians make armed forces do tbe work of IAS and IPS too because these cadres of IAS & IPS work only when the tbings are hunkydory. One deviation from the normal and the Administration in this country just collapses and needs Armed Forces to take care of these disasters. One slightly bigger law and order problem and the first people to run away are Police forces, necessitating Armed Forces to clear up the muck of these incompetent & highly corrupt IAS IPS guys. I am sure 95% pof tbe general populace will agree to this.

    As regards the restriction or cap on vehicle purchases, firstly it is not that Armed Forces officers are getting those free of charge. They are paying the price of the vehicles in advance so this question of carry over liability is utter bullshit.

    It is very easy for your editors and assistants to comment that no problem if some facilities are curbed or something about living beyond means and all. You must realise that Armed Forces are woefully short of capable officers. In order to attract talent to “serve the nation” the nation has to appreciate their act and show their gratitude by giving more rather than saying restrict the facilities. I want that in this country everyone has to serve for at least 2 years to 5 years compulsorily in the armed forces to actually understand what the armed forces are. People have no idea about Armed Forces and hence all this talk happens here.

    In any case the persons buying bigger and costly vehicles are not very many because the country does not pay Armed Forces people so handsomly and armed forces peronnel do not have additional income like Politicians, IAS, IPS, IRS as well as extortionist media editors writers and reporters so the question of a huge loss to the govt or such nonsensical thing just is a figment of some bureaucrat’s stupid imagination. Even if, say, 10000 persons decide to buy a bigger vehicle with the GST waiver of Rs 75000/- per vehicle , the losss is a paltry 75 crores ! Do you really mean to say that this nation is so poor that it can’t afford a waiver of 75 crores on people who are ready to lay down their lives for the motherland ?

    Please think before giving such opinions.

    I am an Ex soldier and though I personally will never buy a bigger vehicle I firmly believe that all those who want to should, and Govt. should do away with all caps and limits.

  27. A total 28% GST is charged on the MRP, out of which centre and state share it equally. The 14% claimed by State is not exempted, however the centre of it is exempted for a veteran and soldiers.
    An exemption of 14% GST also seems to be burden for the Govt. So are the policy change. Uniform service should be mandatory for at least 5 years, before taking any employment in civil, then only people of this country will start respecting uniform personnel. One of the views written above mentioned as they are getting lot of benefits if some out of these curtailed doesn’t matter. I request on that have you ever thought of what the people in uniform are deprived off? That’s not interesting for you nor will bring you traffic in favour of your article. Please don’t propagate about facts which are your own belief. Thanx

  28. There should be a more transparent way of compensating armed services personnel in terms of salary and allowances. Over time, the weight of these embedded privileges can become a little unbearable.

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