NAPM Press Release on FDI in Retail: A Disaster for Farmers, Consumers and Communities

November 29, 2011

New Delhi, November 29 : NAPM strongly opposes the Government of India’s decision to increase the FDI limit to 51% in multi brand retail trade, and upto 100% in single brand retail trade with government approval. Even though the policy is conditional to the fact that it is applicable only in towns and cities with more than 10 lakh population as per 2011 census. 53 towns and cities fall under this category out of a total of 8000 towns and cities all over India. According to 2011 census, these 53 towns and cities cover 42% of the total urban population of India. Even though limited to 53 cities the effects of it will be felt all across since the sourcing of the commodities and provisions will be from all over the country.

Our experience in past twenty years of Liberalisation, Globalisation and Privatisation policies in all aspects has shown increase in inequality and deprivations, where the adivasis, dalits, farmers and workers, have suffered the most. The present Cabinet Decision will only enhance the problems due to privatisation, which is nothing but selling of country’s resources to private corporations. This controversial decision has led to the current logjam in the Parliament and outrage among the people. While we welcome the protests by political parties we urge them to address the wider question of economic reforms, which is pushing the aam admi to the brink of disaster, with high rates of inflation and increased prices all around.

FDI, PPP and other such joint ventures and liberalisation policies have damaged lives and livelihood of millions of people of this country. Entry of private corporations in energy sector has resulted in increased displacement, loot of natural resources; privatisation in agriculture has meant corporate and contract farming and farmer’s suicides on mass scale and growth of real estate all across the country has fuelled destruction and conflicts among the farmers in particular and caused misery to urban poor. FDI in retail will further push farmers and workers to impoverishment and unemployment. These sectors need more governmental support. Already 93% of workforce is in unorganised and unprotected sectors of work and this will add to further joblessness and violations of the rights of workers and urban poor.

The Centre’s decision is questionable. It must understand that retail in India comprises hawkers, family-run, street-corner stores which account for 97 per cent of business. Global retailers will destroy these domestic chains. It will also further intensify corruption, inequality and exploitation of the labourers and farmers.

NAPM strongly opposes any further push for these policies and demands an immediate roll back of these pronouncements and foreign trade agreements done under the pressure from WTO. It will be a mistake if the government forgets the broken Reliance Fresh stores in Indore, Kolkata and Ranchi in early 2007 and massive protests against KFC stores in 1996 in Banaglore. If the Government does not withdraw these decisions, People’s Movements and Trade Unions will be forced to start a massive protest throughout the country.

Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Adv. Sanjay Parikh, Ulka Mahajan, Prafulla Samantara, D. Gabriele, P. Chennaiah, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Anand Mazgaonkar, Sr. Celia, Suniti S. R., Rajendra Ravi, Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Vimal Bhai, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Madhuresh Kumar