Dear Col Shivraj,
While I am not the spokesperson for the CSD, I can certainly clarify some myths/perceptions.
1. The perception the a Unit Run Canteen(URC) which sells CSD items is a CSD canteen is incorrect.
2. While there are 35 CSD depots in the country there are over 3400 Unit Run Canteens(URC's) which includes the Naval Canteen at Mumbai which is also a URC. URC's like Naval Canteen Mumbai/ Taurus Delhi / Air Force Canteen Delhi are all regimental canteens which retail CSD stores; while some also also retail non-CSD stores. So when you, buy a non CSD item from Naval Canteen Mumbai, it does not classify it as a CSD item.
3. The perception that most grocery items are provided locally is also not quite correct, specially in the context of the items which you have elucidated, e.g. Surf Excelmatic or Godrej Hair Dye which are part of the toiletry items in CSD parlance. It is true that CSD attempts to collect edible items locally (of their Group 6 if I remember the Groups correctly)that the manufacturers can provide at different stations, however the same is not true of most Group 1 items(toiletry) of CSD .
Regards the NA of some items , my experience has been that when a product gets popular; companies always like to exploit the situation and want a price rise , sometimes 2 or 3 times in a year from the CSD even when the same products price does not increase correspondingly in the market. As aresult a catch 22 situation gets created. Consumers want the product but the increase in price is not justified. In such a situation the finacial interest of the consumer overrides the CSD's decision, and an attempt to bring the companies in line is made.Sometimes the decisions are hard and consumers have to bear with CSD. Take the example of the grand old 'Hercules Rum'. It was the unprecedented price increase demand, which led to that brand disappearing from CSD. I dont know if that brand has been reintroduced now.
4. Regards only one colour of Godrej Hair Dye being on the CSD inventory, it is on account of the consumption pattern. Obviously there must be very little consumption of this product in the CSD. CSD does not keep inventory which does not move.Just to quote an example. Take the case of products which have multiple choices, like shirts,trousers/ paints/ shoes, etc, and imagine having to distribute it to 3400 URC's according to their choice across the length and breadth of the country. I am not for a moment suggesting that in this day and age and with the kind of computerisation available it is not possible to satisfy consumers,if there is a will to do it, however, if it is cost effective and economical , then definitely Yes.
May be if I have some suggestions one can go forward from here.
5. We also need to remember that most consumption of CSD items is by JCO's/ OR's. Therefore the inventory is JCO's/OR's heavy, and rightly so.
With Warm Regards,
Lt Gen Jagdish Chander(Retd)