Why Our Indian Defence Canteens Need a Big Revamp

I am the granddaughter of a proud naval officer and my grandfather retired as a commander from the Indian Naval force I have always looked up to him for his fearless attitude, disciplined lifestyle and the soldier’s pride that he carried with him throughout his life.

Recently, I happened to visit the Indian Defence canteen located in the Kannur district of North Malabar, Kerala. The entire state of the grocery store section and the liquor store section of the Indian Defence canteen was pathetic and severely mismanaged. I was quite shocked to see the way the canteen personnel’s or the staff were treating the ex-servicemen from the Army, Naval and the Air force wings of the Indian Defence. So I took the initiative to note down the few things I thought were completely out of place, disrespectful and impolite in the Indian Defence Canteen or the CSD canteen.

Long wait in the scorching heat- As soon as I entered into the canteen premises I saw a long queue of old people waiting in the scorching heat, to enter the store. Some of them were with their wives and taking the help of a walking stick or a walker.  There were few empty seats placed in a shelter, but then I realized those were for the people who had already finished their shopping.

Empty Shelves- Most of the shelves were empty and some of the shelves were being restocked with items during the midday, even when the customers were shopping inside the store.

Careless Billing System- After the items were collected in the shopping trolley, we were asked to place it near a billing counter where a lady cashier was seated. Instead of focusing on the billing, she was busy chatting with her colleague and was gorging on some food during her work hours. Meanwhile my grandfather and I were outside the billing counter waiting for her to start the billing process.

In an alternate incident a colleague of my grandfather reported an issue where he was billed for 16000 rupees on his bank card instead of 1600 rupees. The poor man had wait all day in the canteen to get this sorted as the cashier lady could not find a smart way to rectify her mistake. She waited till she could collect the balance Rs 14400 to hand it over to the customer.

Multiple Counters and Unnecessary Verification System- After the trolley passes through the billing counter, we are asked to wait till the billed trolley reaches the second counter. From the second counter, the canteen staff further verifies the purchased products, the customers ID and other related details. Finally the trolley is taken to the third counter and we are made to wait till our names are announced loudly. Only after our name is announced, we can go and pick the products from the counter.The process in this scenario clearly questions the integrity of an ex-servicemen and goes to show that the DSC department of the Indian Defence does not trust their ex-servicemen. Last but not the least, they do not care about the health or the time of our precious officers who once served the country with immense dedication and commitment.

No Permanent Office Location – Each time you visit the canteen premises for any official purpose, you are forced to roam around as the office rooms keep changing within the canteen location.

Frequent Process Changes- The official processes and procedures are not definite and keep changing frequently. If you approach an officer for any official purpose, your request is transferred from place to place till you get a final solution.

Rude and Loud officers- The officers in the canteen offices are too loud and are highly impatient. They immediately refer the customers to the next table without even showing the inclination to sit and listen to the customer’s grievance or problem.

Language Barrier- Many a times it’s noticed that the office personnel and the canteen staff do not belong to that particular state where the canteen is located. For eg: you will find a Punjabi lady sitting at the cash counter of a DSC canteen located in Kerala, naturally this gives rise to a language barrier between the customer (who is normally aged 60 and above) and the canteen staff. A lot of time is wasted in dissolving this communication barrier due to this reason.

Long, Tedious and Winding processes- After surrendering your old canteen card for a new card, you are given a temporary slip for 3 months till you get the new card. You can use this temporary slip to purchase groceries and liquor from the DSC canteen. However, when you visit the canteen to shop for groceries or liquor using this slip, you are first referred to an officer for his verification signature, further you are asked to take the slip to a particular counter. The staff at the counter collects such temporary slips which are to be handed over to the canteen manager. If by any chance the manager is not in his place, you are asked to wait till he returns. After the canteen manager verifies and gives his approval, the slips are collected again and placed in a different counter, from where it is handed back to the customer. Please note that the change in the counter or the arrival of the approved slip is not communicated to the customer whatsoever. The ex-servicemen have to wait outside confused, distressed and tired till he or she receives the approved slip to purchase his quota of liquor or groceries.

Please understand that this article is not to simply point fingers at the poor performance of our DSC canteens. The main intention behind this write up is to find the right source who can address this issue to better the entire system of the Indian Defence canteens in our country.

Remember these ex-servicemen were the people who once guarded our-borders and ensured that we slept safe and sound. We should continue to respect them as they still remain the grand pride of our nation.

JAI HIND

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