Morale: Controlling the Grog Ration


October 27,2008:  India has had to issue electronic smart cards to its 1.23 million personnel, in order to halt the rapidly growing black market in army booze. Indian troops don't get a grog ration, but they do have access to special military liquor stores where they can by alcoholic beverages at half the civilian price. Over the past decade, a growing number of troops have been abusing this privilege by purchasing more than they are supposed to, and selling it to civilians. It got so bad that, three years ago, a major-general was caught with two trucks, loaded with military booze, and headed for the civilian market. The government actually losses money on the cheap alcoholic beverages they make available to the military. A recent investigation found that, in 43 units, troops had bought so much additional stuff for resale, that the government had lost over two million dollars.

The new smart cards will insure that troops do not buy more than they are authorized to each month, and make it easier for investigators to analyze purchasing patterns, to detect areas where military personnel appear to be buying all they are allowed to, and slipping what they don't consume into the black market. The military does not want to eliminate the cheap booze, as it is a very popular fringe benefit, and most troops were not cheating. But in the 1990s, word began to spread that cheating was easy and profitable, and more and more soldiers got into the habit of selling cut-rate liquor on the side.


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