The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General about the supply of rations to Army jawans is shocking, to say the least. It has found that the items supplied, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, are of inferior quality. Often, they are supplied much after their expiry date. If such a scandal has not come out in the open it is because of the discipline among the jawans who do not discuss anything outside of their barracks. However, the CAG found out that an overwhelming majority of the jawans were thoroughly disappointed with the treatment meted out to them when they were interviewed. Needless to say, it is a sad state of affairs.
What the report points out is that there is something faulty about the system of procurement and supply of rations that includes all kinds of food materials. The report has specifically mentioned that non-vegetarian items like meat and eggs and fresh vegetables are invariably of substandard quality. This does not redound to the credit of one of the world’s largest armies. The Army spends no less than `1500 crore to provide ration to its 1.3 million personnel. The CAG has pointed out certain lacunae in the system because of which the Army is forced to make local-level purchases and have to pay more for poor quality stuff. The prevalence of corruption in purchase and distribution cannot be ruled out.
Army jawans posted in areas hit by insurgency have to face a lot of problems. They have to fight extreme cold and be on the guard against guerilla-type attacks. The minimum that they expect is good food. It is a pity that the greed of some forces them to eat rotten food materials. It was only when the Kargil war occurred that the people realised that the jawans did not have snow boots. It seems no lessons have been learnt since then. The NDA government loses no opportunity to express its admiration for our armed forces, which is good. But first, it must ensure that our jawans at least eat well.