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‘Big Ticket’ Reforms and Bigger Deceptions: Shankar Gopalakrishnan


When the country’s rulers have to tell barefaced lies to get their policies through, you know that there’s something wrong. Consider the recent “big-ticket reforms,” of which the two biggest (in terms of direct impact) have been the diesel price hike and the opening of the retail sector to FDI. The diesel hike, we’re told, was a “tough decision” necessary to “prune subsidies.” Except that diesel isn’t subsidised in this country. To repeat: there is no subsidy on diesel in India. As for FDI in retail, the Cabinet statement on the policy cites four justifications, accompanied by a “Studies show…” claim. Except that the data in the government’s sole study on the issue does not support three of these four justifications. As for their much touted “safeguards”, at least one has been said to be illegal by the Commerce Ministry itself, while the very same CCEA meeting diluted a similar safeguard for single brand retailers. Continue reading ‘Big Ticket’ Reforms and Bigger Deceptions: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

Indian Government’s Claims About Corporate Retail and the Reality: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

The vociferous supporters of corporate retail in India seem to believe, or would like us to believe, that there is no previous experience of corporate retail anywhere in the world to learn lessons from. In this guest post, SHANKAR GOPALAKRISHNAN analyses available data on the experience of the entry of corporate retail globally, to outline the disastrous consequences it has had everywhere it has been introduced.  On the basis of extensive research, he concludes:  “The growth of corporate retail not only will not address the key problems plaguing India’s economy today – it will greatly exacerbate many of them. In particular, the crisis in agriculture, environmental destruction, declines in land productivity, urban unemployment, price volatility and unequal access to resources would all be worsened by unchecked growth of corporate retail.” Shankar’s article follows.

In the flood of rhetoric following the government’s decision to permit FDI in retail, the actual reality of what this will mean is being lost. For that it is necessary to look at international data and what it shows about the claims being made. Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s letter offers a good place to start. His claims can be summarised as follows: Continue reading Indian Government’s Claims About Corporate Retail and the Reality: Shankar Gopalakrishnan