Nation or kirana shops?

In this context, it is bizarre that there is still a controversy about FDI in multi-brand retail. Foreign investment in Indian stock markets, a much more speculative activity, has encountered no opposition. But FDI in multi-brand retail is the big bugbear. It has been said again and again that our present supply chain from farm to consumer home is inefficient and wasteful. Up to 25 per cent of food products are wasted or rot. The farmer is robbed of his due price by inefficient middlemen. China and Indonesia and Malaysia have all benefited from FDI in multi- brand retail And yet the UPA faces a test in Parliament on the issue.

The Left, like the Bourbons, forget nothing and learn nothing. Their stance is understandable if wrong headed. The other parties are ignorant and /or uncaring of national interest; their vision is confined to their caste group/region/religion. As long as they have money to spend when in power, they care little about policy questions. The party whose stance is puzzling is the BJP. It is disowning its best years in office. It has as one of its potential leaders Narendra Modi who is an arch liberaliser; the other contenders—LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj—were in the BJP/NDA cabinet, which was a liberalising champion (Mr Gadkari is a practical liberaliser!). Do they now define national interest in terms of kirana shops?

FDI has been debated for nearly a decade if not longer. Time has come to bite the bullet. The UPA has to challenge the Opposition to debate and vote in Parliament so that once and for all, we can decide whether the nation can be held to ransom because kirana shops are likely to lose out. The dire warnings of ruin have been issued at every stage of liberal reform over the last twenty years. They were rightly ignored all these years. It is time to ignore them again.

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