Liquor Quota for Indian Defense Personnel at Subsidized Rates
India must be one of the few countries in the world to have a liquor quota for its officers and soldiers. The genesis of this quota is from the days of the Raj when the British officer serving in India away from home was given a certain amount of alcoholic drinks free at subsidized cost.
After India became free the Government of India thought it a good idea to have a liquor quota for the officers and soldiers. According the following were incorporated
1.) A bar day was set up twice a week for the airmen. Two large pegs of rum at subsidized rates are made available to the airmen. Earlier only Rum was served to the airmen but now a limited quantity of whisky is also available. An officer is detailed to supervise the bar day and he ensures that not more than 2 pegs are consumed by an individual. But there are cases on the sly of individuals who are non-drinkers giving their quota to drinkers. The bar day is only for bachelors who reside in the Airmen’s mess.
The system of bar days is ingrained into the Indian armed forces and the timings and dates of the bar days are published in the Station Routine Orders
2.) Married personnel from the ranks are entitled from 2 to 4 bottles of whisky / rum as per rank per month at subsidized cost from the canteen stores department (CSD) liquor counter. They can collect their quota by showing their smart card and take it home.
3.) Officers are given special privileges as far as liquor is concerned. All officers up to the rank of Brigadier were earlier entitled to 12 units of liquor per month. One unit is equivalent to one bottle of hard liquor like whisky/ Gin/Rum/ wine or 4 bottles of beer. This is now reduced to 10 units per month. An officer can also draw scotch against his quota of 10 bottles. Officers of the rank of general and above are entitled to 14 units per month.
It must be understood that the liquor made available to service personnel is devoid of excise, sales tax and VAT. The most heavily subsidized is rum which is available at ¼ of the price in the open market. In addition to the monthly liquor quota officers can also enjoy drinks at the various services clubs. This is in addition to the CSD quota. Any unused liquor quota cannot be carried forward
In India there is no discussion or debate on this liquor quota for service personnel and it is thought of as a legitimate perk of service. In 1975-77 during a brief stint by the Gandhian Prime Minister Morarji Desia there was talk of curtailing this liquor quota but it lapsed with his defeat in the general election.