Yet again, proposal of FDI in retail has been shelved. Well, that's the truth; however to be politically correct (pun intended), our Finance minister today announced that the decision to allow FDI in retail is suspended (mind you, not rolled back) till consensus evolves. Immediate concern of course, is to get parliament to function which has been in a state of inaction for half the winter session. Talk of Democracy!
It is claimed that FDI in retail will kill kiranas and farmers. Which of these opposing politicians (in bigger cities) have their kitchens run on groceries from kirana? What has been done so far, to protect farmers who realize less than 1/3rd of what final consumers pay? What have we done about crores of post harvest losses? My street corner kirana shop owner has a son, who is in engineering school. Do we really believe that the father is waiting for his son to inherit his 8 x 10, infested by roaches and rats? Emerging to emerged, evolution, modernization and better life - too much to ask? Don't the opposing individuals (and their families) enjoy the luxury of foreign cars - why didn't we fight endlessly to protect Ambassadors?
Granted that the effort to protect the interests of kiranas is genuine. What about consumers? Aren't we the foundation of economy? As tax payers, we deserve to be taken notice of! How irresponsible it is to encourage a nationwide bundh of traders? What a colossal loss of productivity? What happened to the perishable produce and the interest of kirana, while protesters were busy trying to prove a point? Did your neighborhood kirana actually want to keep his shop and business shut? Can the health of the ( local and global) economy afford this at the current juncture?
Advantages of multi brand retail stores are several. Employment opportunities to tens of thousands of young and educated Indians (farmers' kids included), infrastructure development, better, equal and transparent prices / terms to farmers, investment in technology, growth in tax revenue and better consumer experience are only few of them. It is disheartening that political parties twist every national issue to improve its electoral prospects? Isn't there a mid path? China introduced FDI in a phased manner to select states. Can't we take a cue from there? Refusing to discuss (read work) an issue such as this and disrupting functioning of parliament - God, we need some serious help!
Apologies for my innumerable questions and out-of-ordinary choice of subject for "market talk". Louder our voices get, sooner will be some action - I hope.
Currencies are likely to be muted as markets count down to EU summit.