(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 16, 2012
FDI IN RETAIL TRADE
AS we go to press, the UPA-2 government was forced to announce in both the houses of parliament that it would set-up an inquiry into the media reports concerning the submission made by the global retail giant Walmart to the US senate that it had spent around Rs 125 crores during the last four years on its lobbying activities, including the issues related to “enhance market access for investment in India”. The Indian retail market is estimated by them to be worth $ 500 billion currently and is pegged to cross $ 1 trillion mark by 2020. Both the houses were adjourned the earlier day demanding that the government announce an independent and a time-bound probe. The CPI(M) has demanded that the inquiry findings must be completed before the beginning of the budget session.
This inquiry comes
on the heel of the
commerce ministry asking the Reserve Bank of
As the government
was announcing its
decision to conduct an inquiry came the news (Indian Express, December 12, 2012) that Patton Boggs, one of the lobbying firms which
retail chain Walmart, was hired by the Indian embassy in the
Patton Boggs’s website says, “We championed the US-India civilian nuclear advocacy initiative for the US India Business Council (USIBC), which resulted in US Congressional passage of the Henry Hyde Peaceful Atomic Energy Act of 2006 and the signing of the landmark US-India Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2008”.
“We represent other commercial interests on issues where their business needs intersect directly with the government of
Interestingly, in March 2009, former
This probe in
Likewise, Walmart has been criticised in a plethora of countries for a series of anti-worker policies. With close to 22.2 million employees worldwide, Walmart faces a torrent of lawsuits with regard to its workforce on issues such as low wages, poor working conditions, inadequate healthcare, anti-union policies etc. Only 1.2 per cent of the Walmart workers make a living above the poverty level in respective countries. Unfortunately, all this was well-known to the Indian parliament, yet some parties aided the UPA-2 government in the recent parliamentary vote.
have, indeed, mastered the technique of converting a
minority into a majority
on the floor of the parliament. Such
expertise in `manufacturing majority’ (with due apologies to
Walter Lippmann et al
who spoke of
`manufacturing of consent’) has, in the past, exposed the
JMM bribery case
(1993) and the `cash for vote’ scam (2008).
On this instance, the parties who openly opposed FDI
in retail in the
discussions had an absolute majority in both the houses in
numbers. Lo and Behold, during voting the situation
will, surely, expose this mystery.
Given all these, it is incumbent that the UPA-2 government wait till the enquiry into Walmart’s lobbying and other activities are completed before operationalising its decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail trade. In any case, the government will have to wait till the parliament disposes off amendments to the FEMA amendments made by the Reserve Bank of
In the meanwhile, the growing popular protests against this decision continue to gain further momentum across the country. In the final analysis, it is the strength of such popular mobilisations which must force the government to reverse this decision in the interest of our country and people.
(December 12, 2012)