'What is Swadeshi?' Centre's Made-in-India Canteens Puzzle Paramilitary Forces. And They Have a Point

A CISF canteen (Twitter/@CISFHQrs)

A CISF canteen (Twitter/@CISFHQrs)

Officials also pointed out that the deadline of June 1 is too close if any major change in existing items on sale has to be brought about.

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New Delhi: What is swadeshi? Hours after Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that all canteens of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) will sell only indigenous products, a wave of confusion spread through the ranks.

"We are waiting for a detailed order from the Ministry of Home affairs about the definition of swadeshi. Would it mean only Indian brands or will it include even foreign brands which manufacture in India," DIG RM Meena, in-charge of Central Police Canteen told CNN-News18.

Referring to PM Modi's appeal on Tuesday, during his address to the nation, to make the country self-reliant and use products made in India, Shah said that the CAPFs — CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, SSB, NSG and Assam Rifles — will sell only indigenous products from June 1 to 50 lakh family members of about 10 lakh personnel.

CAPF officials said that if the order allows all India manufactured goods, including from multinational brands like LG, Samsung, Procter and Gamble and Nestle, then not much will change on the ground.

"Most of the international brands have their manufacturing plants in India. We source directly from them and even pay GST. Problem will arise only if we are asked to stick to Indian brands only like Haldiram or Patanjali. That would mean 70% of our inventory will be unusable," a ITBP officer said.

According to sources, top home ministry officials met on Wednesday evening to decide on these modalities.

Officials also pointed out that the deadline of June 1 is too close if any major change in existing items on sale has to be brought about. "If we are told not to stock international brands, then we will have to quickly think of how to procure Indian brands for those goods. In that case, the deadline is too near," an officer said.

CAPF canteens sell everything from grocery to electronic goods to even cars. Only liquor is not sold in these canteens. As per MHA estimate, the decision to go swadeshi would affect revenue worth Rs 2,800 crores, 10 lakh para military personnel and 50 lakh family members and veterans depend on para military canteens.

In October last year, Home Minister Amit Shah had first suggested that CAPF canteens go swadeshi, including food items, stationery, uniforms etc for use in households and offices. Then too swadeshi was defined as "country-made". The 1,700 CPCs are hoping the same definition would continue in the new order too, which is expected by Thursday.

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