Firangi Kiranawala

I see a lot of opposition for FDI in retail. The last time this bill was proposed I wondered how McD and KFC were allowed to enter India. How come our socialist bogey dint oppose them claiming they will kill the chai ki tapari wala and the Vada Pav wala. Then I came across this post  where Greatbong claims that there was indeed a strong opposition for their entry citing the exact same reasons. We all can see the results over selves. While KFCs and McDs have survived, they have not affect the small time eating places at all. They have not managed to change the food culture in our country. Yet, they have employed a few thousand people

“Once they enter India, they will spread all over the country, like an attack of headlice. And then using their financial might and their patented food fabrication technologies, they will keep their prices unnaturally low, force small food-places out of business, change India’s eating culture, flow the capital back to the mother-ship, make us their slaves, tie comely village lasses to flagpoles and go Muhahaaaa.  Yep they said that then too. There were also protests, agitations, violence and overall much hot air.” [link]

This is what the wikipedia article on KFC says

The first Indian KFC was opened in the city of Bangalore in June 1995.[101] This resulted in protests from the left wing, anti-globalisation and environmental campaigners and local farmers, who believed that KFC was bypassing local producers for specific suppliers.[102] Many Indians protested the onslaught of consumerism, the loss of India’s self-sufficiency, and the disruption of India traditions.[103] The protests came to a head in August 1995, when the Bangalore outlet was ransacked at least twice.[101] The Bangalore outlet demanded, and received, a police van permanently parked outside it for a year.[102] M. D. Nanjundaswamy claimed that KFC would adversely affect the health of the impoverished, by diverting grain from poor people to make the more profitable animal feed.[104]

The discourse of FDI in retail as well is reduced to absurdity.

First of all I dont think Walmart will kill all the Lalajis in our country. A lot of people in India are going to remain a lot poorer in near future. At least those who will buy food on daily basis will continue to go to the Kirana stores. As far as the wealthy and upper middle class is concerned, they are growing but the retail sector has not been able to catchup. May be the FDI will help.

Secondly, I dont see any reason why we should love the kirana stores so much. They are doing business not charity. There are many wrongs with them in first place here are few for example.

1. They employ child labor.

2. They cheat.

3. They sell stuff at higher prices than MRP.

4. They are unhygienic.

5. Few of them pay taxes.

6. They are not regular and predictable in their services.

With organized retail a lot of those problems will disappear and new problems will appear and then we have find solutions to those problems. It is very silly for us to believe that by stalling FDI in retail we are securing future of some other XYZ industry in the country. The world is a competitive place, a lot of them have gained a lot of knowledge in retail industry and we should use it for our betterment. No occupation is eternally secure, as human being continue to innovate a lot of professions will simply disappear. Our claim that we can hold time back is nothing but deluding ourselves. Our claim that the small grocery shops or the cash strapped Indian retail stores are capable of serving millions of Indians who are earning more and more every year then I think we are simply creating another problem.


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