Govt issues list of over 1,000 imported items banned at CAPF canteens, then revokes it

CAPF Canteens reopened

An order issued by an authority under ministry of home affairs over the weekend listing “imported” products removed from the list items for sale at canteens run for central police force personnel was rescinded on Monday after confusion over some of the items classified as foreign, people aware of the matter said. A reworked list would be issued soon, one of them added.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) director-general AP Maheshwari, who heads the Welfare And Rehabilitation Board of central police forces, said the order regarding the delisting of certain products was erroneously issued. “The list has been withdrawn and action is being initiated for the lapse,” he said.

Among the products listed in the rescinded circular were Dabur’s products like Real Juice, around 30 products of Bajaj Electricals, almost entire range of VIP Industries that produces bags and trolleys, and several electronics and electrical items of international brands which are largely made in India only.

Other items that were delisted by rescinded order were Timex’s watches, Proctor and Gamble’s shaving range, Philips home appliances, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Panasonic’s vacuum cleaners, speakers, etc, Nestle’s milk powder, LG’s range of appliances as well as Colgate’s oral hygiene products.

Kendriya Police Kalyan Bhandar (KPKB) chief executive officer RM Meena, who is a deputy inspector general rank officer, issued the order on May 29, a fortnight after Union home minister Amit Shah on May 13 announced the canteens will sell only indigenous products beginning June 1.

Shah’s announcement came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for popularising local commodities to make India a self-reliant country in the face of the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic poses.

KPKB, which runs the canteens across India, created three categories of the products sold there, according to the order, a copy of which HT has seen. Category 1 included those made in India from scratch.

Category 2 listed products manufactured or assembled in India with imported raw material. Category 3 specified 1,026 “purely imported products” and included chocolates, air conditioners and televisions manufactured by Italian and South Korean firms.

The order said there were seven companies importing finished products and selling them in India. It underlined that they had categorised the products solely based on the information provided by the firms manufacturing them. “In case of any litigation, the information provided by the firm will be used as evidence and the onus to prove the information is correct will be on the respective firm,” the order said.

Shah on May 13 said the canteens do an estimated business worth Rs 2,800 crore annually. The canteens cater to 5 million family members of about one million personnel involved in internal security and border guarding duties.

The central police forces include CRPF, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, National Security Guards and the Assam Rifles.

There are around 119 master and 1,625 subsidiary canteens across the country — from border to Maoist-insurgency-hit areas.

The canteens were set up in 2006 following demands by central paramilitary personnel who cited the army has such canteens.

 They have been selling local products to a large extent, following an October 2019 order that asked them to shun foreign brands and introduce “swadeshi” goods, including food items, accoutrements for combat and regular duty uniform, bed sheets, towels, household goods, clothing and stationery.

Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru and founder at Harish Bijoor Consults Inc said “These are rather quick reactions which certain central bodies have taken. It’s not a good thing to do. You (government) should not hurt a made in India product.

The fallouts need to well thought-out before jumping the gun, which definitely was the case here. There is a need to have greater degree of care, intent and listing. Just because a brand name sounds foreign, it doesn’t mean it is foreign made”.

Source: Hindustan Times