MHA withdraws "swadeshi products at CAPF canteens" order, then clarifies
On May 12, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs. 20 lakh crore package to help India's economy, battered due to coronavirus pandemic. He also pushed the "vocal for local" agenda. Thereafter, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that only "swadeshi" items would be sold at the canteens of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Now, that order has been withdrawn, but MHA denied revoking the same.
In a tweet on May 13, Shah ordered CAPF canteens would only sell country-made products. CAPF canteens, which comprise those run by CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, SSB, and the elite NSG, cater to nearly 50 lakh family members of almost 10 lakh personnel. The total earnings amount to approximately Rs. 2,800 crore. From groceries to vehicles, almost everything is sold at these canteens.
"I appeal to the people of India to use indigenous products as much as possible and encourage others to do the same. This is not the time to fall behind, but to turn a disaster into an opportunity," he had said then.
However, the order left canteen authorities in limbo as "swadeshi" wasn't defined clearly. The central police welfare stores body, which administers over 1,700 canteens countrywide, put procurement on hold till "clear instructions on "swadeshi" firms and products are received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)". This affected over 400 vendors, who directly deal with these canteens.
The body, however, told CAPF canteens that items, for which orders have been placed and are "mobilized", would be accepted. Store managers were advised against panicking and told that they needn't return items that are in stock. Meanwhile, it was also communicated that the items, for which orders have been placed, but are yet to be shipped, would not be accepted.
Kendriya Police Kalyan Bhandar (KPKB) has withdrawn its order (pic 1) of putting on hold of all indents/supply orders of all category of items. The order was issued after MHA decided that only 'swadeshi' products will be sold through KPKB from 1st June 2020. pic.twitter.com/PAiL4PDfKh— Journalist Siraj Noorani (@sirajnoorani) May 21, 2020
About the persisting confusion, a senior official said "clarification" is expected soon. "Meetings are being held with the commerce ministry to see how 'Make in India' and other such initiatives can be tapped for these canteens that will boost domestic industry, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and Khadi industries," the person said. But days later, the much-celebrated order was withdrawn altogether.
Dismissing reports, the spokesperson of MHA said the order still stands. The spokesperson claimed that media confused the central police welfare stores body's order with the MHA circular. "An internal exercise to list eligible products and implement MHA orders has been unnecessarily blown out of proportion. Such reports are an incorrect interpretation of the issue," the spokesperson wrote on Twitter.