People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49

December 04, 2011


Stop Sell-out to MNCs: AIKS


THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi on November 27, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has condemned the decision of the Congress-led UPA government to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and supported the call by small retailers for a nationwide strike on December 1, 2011.


The AIKS, which is the largest organisation of the peasantry in India and as more than 2.25 crore members, said all its state units and cadre would work to make the strike a huge success.


The AIKS statement, issued by its president S Ramachandran Pillai and general secretary K Varadha Rajan, said the decision to allow FDI in retail trade would jeopardise the livelihoods of millions of farmers and small retailers. Coming as it does in the backdrop of a quarter million suicides by farmers in the country, the government is culpable of abetting a situation of heightened distress for the peasantry as well as the small retailers. The AIKS further said the government’s conditionalities do not provide effective safeguards for any section. The investment floor of Rs 520 crore is insignificant for multi-billion giant retailers like the Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour etc. With 11 shops per 1000 people, India has the highest shopping density in the world and more than 1.2 crore shops in the unorganised retail provide jobs to more than four crore people. Thus nearly 20 crore people are dependent on this sector for their livelihood. Thus FDI in multi-brand retail would lead to a direct threat to their lives. The MNCs that are purely interested in profiteering would displace millions from jobs. The global retail giants would, through predatory pricing as well as takeovers, wipe out the domestic retailers operating in the unorganised sector.


The AIKS decried the fact that farmers are now being promised high prices, which is an illusion. Our experience shows that the government has committed such a fraud on the people numerous times before. The decontrol of petroleum products as well as the decontrol of agricultural inputs like fertilisers and seeds was done with the claim that they will benefit farmers and consumers. Seed companies like Monsanto took over many small companies and have captured more than 40 per cent of the seeds market. After establishing their monopoly, however, they dictate the prices. Their high prices are one of the causes for the suicides of cotton famers in Vidarbha and Andhra Pradesh.


Similarly, the procurement centres of big corporates seeking to make bulk purchases may initially pay better than the existing low prices. Gradually the mandis as well as regulated market yards will be pushed to extinction. Once their monopoly is established, they will coerce farmers to sell their produce at prices arbitrarily fixed by the companies. They will also dictate prices of wholesale purchase as well as the prices of retail products that will be up for sale. Retail prices for consumers are also going to remain high. The entire production process will be altered to suit the corporate interests. Worldwide, the giant retail chains have meant depressed prices for the peasantry and the farmers are many times deprived of even these low prices by citing quality standards. Drastic changes in cropping patterns away from foodgrains will also follow. Food security of the country will also be compromised.


In view of these realities, the AIKS said it would resist FDI in the retail sector by building the broadest possible unity against this retrograde move.