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05 December 2011

SDPI terms Union govt. stand on FDI as unfortunate, demands debate in Parliament

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has termed the Union Government’s stubborn stand on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the multi-brand retail sector, opening the way for international supermarket giants like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco to open their shops in India as very unfortunate. It has led to logjam of the Parliament that threatens to disrupt the proceedings of the winter session with Opposition parties in no mood to relent causing crores of rupees going down the drain.

E. Aboobacker, the national president of SDPI, in a statement said that it is bare truth that any foreign stake & large scale mechanization, corporatization etc will badly hamper traditional craft, culture and agriculture prospects especially badly affecting the youths’ prospects (those from the rural & poverty background). India is a rural dominated poor country where Socialism & Gandhianism model can only be success, others just befool and serve the narrow purposes of a few select in power and position. “Let us remain quite vigilant of such designs and its consequences”, he reminded.

Mr. Aboobacker pointed out that the Union Cabinet does has the right to take executive decisions. However, it is unprecedented that such decisions are taken and announced when Parliament is in session. This runs contrary to the spirit of parliamentary democracy and our constitutional scheme of things. It is, therefore, not unreasonable that parliamentarians, cutting across political parties, have demanded that this decision ought to have been taken after the issue was discussed by both the Houses. Once the decision has been taken, any discussion on the issue is simply in fructuous. Unless, of course, the government is willing to reverse its decision and allow a meaningful discussion in Parliament to determine what decision India must take on this score, he added.

The statement said: “We must campaign for organic and indigenous growth policy. Give incentives for setting-up big manufacturing basis in India- when most IT products, garments are being dumped from China, Taiwan and Thailand why can't there be proud stamp of Made in India manufactured Quality products to be found around the world? Why allow IInd and IIIrd rated imports of products to India? There seems to be a sinister move by the political leaders! We must campaign for be- Indian- buy India-manufactured products”.

Similarly, the Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis et al should also be kept away from the retail business so that the lower middle class traders can be saved from the home grown industrial giants, the statement added.

Mr. Aboobacker said manufacturing is the base on which countries stand and survive. Getting manufactured goods from abroad is good only for the merchants. FDI in retail business is just another new form of occupation of the present by all sense and means. For a country like India that has got a vast variety of food items, will be forced to consume all the rotten junk from other countries particularly from the capitalist and bankrupt ones, with much higher price. The "high quality" propaganda will be there from the same source justifying this "highway man" robbery.

He emphasized that FDI in retail move will lead to large-scale job losses. International experience shows supermarkets invariably displace small retailers. Small retail has virtually been wiped out in developed countries like the US and in Europe. South East Asian countries had to impose stringent zoning and licensing regulations to restrict growth of supermarkets after small retailers were getting displaced. India has the highest shopping density in the world with 11 shops per 1,000 people. It has 1.2 crore shops employing over 4 crore people; 95% of these are small shops run by self-employed people. Jobs in the manufacturing sector will be lost because structured international retail makes purchases internationally and not from domestic sources. This has been the experience of most countries which have allowed FDI in retail, he said.

He pointed out that global retail giants will resort to predatory pricing to create monopoly/oligopoly. This can result in essentials, including food supplies, being controlled by foreign organizations, he feared.

The statement expressed surprise that BJP which once supported FDI in retail back in 2002 when it was the leading party in a coalition led by former prime minister and key BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee is now opposing it. It is now threatening to stall Parliament for the remainder of its winter session Thus, its double-standards is exposed for one and all to see.

Mr. Aboobacker hoped that better sense will prevail over the Union Government and especially Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to review the Cabinet decision over FDI in retail sector and agree for healthy debate in the both Houses of Parliament before taking any final decision over the issue. Rather than adhering to some false notions of prestige, there is nothing lost if the government were to reverse its decision and allow a proper discussion and the rest of the winter session to function in order to discharge its duty in legislating on the crucial issues discussed here, he added.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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