Dec 022011

the fruit seller

So how will FDI affect him.

  • Zero cost of land – (theoretically)… he probably has to pay bribes because he is squatting between the pavement and the road, blocking both.
  • Bang opposite a station (Vile Parle) – en route for customers who get off and wind their way home
  • Can bargain – especially close to closing time

Or him

30 day Project Day 19 - the earthenware seller


Well, same as above. free land (blocking pavement – squatters rights, possibly pays bribes)

I haven’t seen this in the Indian malls – seen plastic stuff – but not good old earthen ware.

Unless FDI gets single brand earthenware shops or IKEA suddenly decides to stock matkas, can still see this guy around for the next few decades.

Hopefully, he will sell more, if environmental concerns on plastics catches up with consumers.


How about him

shop around the corner


This is the local kirana, supposedly most impacted by FDI…

Is he going to be impacted ? conventional wisdom says yes.

But, frankly I don’t know. The crowd that goes to malls to shop is not the same that shops here. In fact, many of the people who shop here will possibly never step into a mall. My maid (she earns around 12k a month between all houses), refuses to go into a mall. When a Big Bazaar has is offers – Rs.599 get rice, oil and dal – she gives my mother money and asks her to buy the pack for her. She finds the mall confusing. Plus, the Big stores sell large volume packs – she doesn’t have place to store – there are rats, rains, and space issues. She is the biggest chunk of the consumer market – not you and I.

People who go to this shop (it is opposite my office) – buy in small quantities (250 gm toor dal dedo), buy sachets and have a range of pulses and FMCG products I don’t see at the Bigger stores.

Yes, and he home delivers. The question is, can your bigger stores compete with him…


So who is impacted ? The middle man, the dalal, the man who makes a percentage for brokering. A man who possibly deals in cash and pays little in taxes. A man who is possibly a political animal -having his feet in both parties.  And, I am supposed to feel sorry for him… why ?



Barbarian Indian (yes i ‘know’ someone called that) on twitter pointed out

Disgustingly tilted post, I support FDI (actually there is nothing to oppose) but you are missing some pictures here!. The farmer who will lose his land (FDI will enable mega stores, more land), the Kirana employees who will be fired within say 1 Km radius of any Walmart (volume will be lower, kirana store won’t employ as many), the farmer whose land will be usurped by larger farms. The point is, you can’t make omlets without breaking an egg. Making such a rosy picture stinks of bias.


FDI in retail is announced in 53 cities. States have the right to refuse – many have. I can’t see how FDI in retail in 53 cities will get farmers to lose land. Unless of course, the back end storage facilities are put up in villages. Again, that doesn’t make sense – primarily because of the situation with erratic power supply in rural India. And, even if miraculously, the Walmarts of the world put up their own power supply (lets say solar or wind energy) to power their storage facilities in rural India, you are talking of employment being generated. A marginal farmer tilling 1 acre of land eking out an iffy  living, harvest to harvest, suddenly has an option of a regular income. He may, of course, choose not to sell land and continue farming.


The Kirana has survived the Big Bazaar and the Star Bazaar, Reliance Fresh, Spensers – in big cities and still coped. If a walmart comes up, in a 1 km radius – wouldn’t a kirana employee prefer a higher paid, slightly more up scale job ?

I really don’t get the point on farmers’ land being usurped by larger farmers – it happens today. it has happened in the past. Injustice in India, does not really need FDI .. it is a natural state.

Yes. there will be an impact. I am told there will be an impact, therefore there must be an impact. This report by Navdanya – run by Vandana Shiva – talks about the impact in great detail. My problem is that i can understand the arguments on an academic or theoretical level, but i simply cannot see how these argument translate into reality.

Will there be job losses – yes. The way there were when the bus routes took over routes run by bullock carts. But, that is part of change. We can be snobs and say that a bullock cart driver deserves to be a bullock cart driver and nothing but, or you can do something about improving skills and helping them adapt to a new way of doing things. (incidentally, that means a growth in the education and training business as well)…



And finally, if you told me that all retail giants are bad I would buy that argument. But, if you told me that it is ok for Indian reatail giants to operate, because for some strange reason they will be great employers, be eoc friendly, be good to the local community , and look at low profits because it is in greater good.. and firang direct investment is wrong, i would look at you and say, there is a unicorn outside my window …

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