NAPM statement on FDI in retail sector

September 25, 2012

Prime Minister should not betray the ‘natural’ and ‘real’ mass-investors in favour of the foreign

The issue of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Retail has led to maximum politicization & polarization amongst the political parties & within civil society. The right to left opposition parties have come together, the ruling UPA is not only cornered by the Trinamool Congress party that has withdrawn from alliance of UPA but is also challenged by the (left & right parties both on the ideology of economic development with FDI not only in Retail but also in every single sector ranging from education to real estate development) economic policy, reform & development in FDI in Retail.

It is still obvious that none of the political parties including SP, BSP, JD(U) or even TMC & the left have questioned per se, the ideology behind economic development with foreign support & investment through investors & investments from the foreign source. This issue based re-alliance, therefore, no doubt has its role in raising a critical issue, otherwise is raised by the common people asserting right to livelihood & no State violence or intervention against the national scenario of local resource based economies of and for the millions.

The movements such as that of farmers & hawkers, have had always questioned the very rationing & indispensability of the foreign investment which invariably has led to changing our policies against the poor i.e. the toiling masses. All the reasoning put forth by the Prime Minister in his latest speech, that justified FDI in Retail on the basis of generation of employment to compulsion of the global economics and market is contestable on very logical grounds. This is because the entry of the investors with the flow of Capital has invariably led to taking over of the jobs & the tasks serving as livelihood for the millions.

The big market players that are in, whether in farm sectors, retail or education have always raise the prices of the costs of services & goods that they initially offer as cheaper & good quality products. Later on the consumers or the beneficiaries have also found it difficult to challenge the marketers – profiteers whose strategies & means of manoeuvring & manipulating are beyond the control & monitoring of the common people. In short, in a sector such as retail which provides self-reliance through self-employment & related job opportunities to crores of small traders, hawkers & the service persons engaged in a large number of services ranging from domestic to small commercial enterprises could certainly snatch away the livelihood of a large population of the unprotected (mistakenly called unorganized) sector workforce.

It is not only the fear but the experience of the loss of economic space as also the political space for those who live upon small scale & partly self monitored market processes who are knocked-down by the big investors through not just entry but encroachment upon the ‘small’. The farmers to small traders who live on the natural and human resources, therefore, feel unsafe to face & challenge the big investors – corporates at the national level & more so at the International level. The opposition by people’s movements across the country and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), therefore, is in the wider context whereby we question the global interference & not just investments in our economics & relatively in our politics.

In the present context of the unprecedented politicization of the issue we certainly welcome the courageous position & decision taken by the TMC led by the Mamta Banerjee, holding the economic sovereignty & the people’s livelihood above the political interest. However, taking into consideration the tricky challenge thrown by the UPA & PM, the real test of the parties in opposition would be, their commitment to execute ‘No FDI in Retail’ policy in the State where they or their allies enjoy power.

The movements cannot just wait & watch the political outfit of the present alignments to agitations but must educate & mobilize the masses including farmers, fish workers, vegetable growers, hawkers as also large section of the populations dependent on them, and raise a voice and wage a battle to get the anti-people decision to permit FDI in retail on one hand and make a dent into the pro-corporate, globalisation and privatisation based economic policies by bringing the wider issues onto the political agenda. The task, as always, appears to be difficult to impossible but it is not impossible, with the combined might of the struggling masses.

It is only and only the people’s power that can make the ‘political’ power holders accept the people’s vision of a self reliant and sovereign economy in order to ensure that they do not bring in the global glamour through FDI, but actually safeguard the right to life (including livelihood to millions of Indians).

Medha Patkar,Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Gabriele Dietrich, Suniti S R, Ulka Mahajan, Roma, Arundhati Dhuru, Sister Celia, Maj. Gen. (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Geo Jose, Hussain Master, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Mukta Srivastava, Madhuresh Kumar