The full form of CSD is Canteen Stores Department. The Canteen Stores Department (CSD) is a government-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India. It operates its depots in major military bases that are run by the Indian Armed Forces. CSD is known as the most profitable retail chain in India, surpassing Future and Reliance Retail.
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Features of CSD
Now that we have learned the CSD full form and definition, let’s have a look at some of its features:
- The department offers a wide range of products, including household provisions, kitchen appliances, alcoholic drinks, cars, and sports equipment.
- While initially catering exclusively to active and retired Armed Forces personnel, it has gradually expanded its reach to include other groups such as GREF, NCC Units, TA units, CDA’s staff, Indian Ordnance Factories, Embarkation HQs, civilians paid from defence estimates, civilians paid from civil estimates, and Paramilitary forces under Army control.
- CSD procures goods in bulk directly from suppliers and distributes them to over 3500 URCs (Unit Run Canteens) located nationwide, which serve as retail outlets.
- These practices ensure the availability of affordable products, as CSD prices are lower due to tax exemptions.
- The strategic positioning of 33 Area Depots ensures access to even remote and inaccessible parts of the country.
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The Canteen Stores Department (CSD) has its roots in the British Raj, stemming from the Army Canteen Board established in India as an offshoot of the British Navy and Army Canteen Board. While the Navy and Army Canteen Board ceased operations in the UK in 1922, its Indian counterpart continued until 1927, providing canteen facilities to British troops through grocery shops and bars run by contractors.
In 1927, the Army Canteen Board was replaced by the Canteen Contractors’ Syndicate (CCS), which functioned as a limited company under government control. However, with the onset of World War II, the CCS faced challenges due to the increased presence of British troops. To address the situation, the Indian government utilized the Services (India) provision to establish the Directorate of Wholesale Trade and Indian Canteen Corps for retail trade in operational areas.
After the war, the Indian Canteen Corps was disbanded, and the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) emerged as a separate entity on January 1, 1948, with working capital assigned from the assets of its wartime predecessor. Initially granted a three-year experimental period, CSD was later accepted as a permanent government undertaking in 1950.
The independence and partition of the country led to the establishment of separate Canteen Stores Departments in India, Pakistan, and later Bangladesh. While the wartime organization dissolved, the retail trade reverted to contractors.
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