FDI in Retail: Wholesale victory
If the debate was really about foreign investment, how come no one spoke about the significant investments made by FIIs in several retail chains in India? According to data cited by corporate law firm AZB & Partners’ founding partner Ajay Bahl, Bata has 18% FII investment, Titan 16%, Pantaloon 22% and Tribhovandas Bhimji 11%—it is true this is FII and not FDI, but both are foreign capital, and surely FDI is preferable to FII.
And the debate certainly wasn’t about kiranas even though Swaraj brought tears to many eyes when she read out the anti-retail FDI letter by Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi who continues to remain in a coma for 4 years now—the helpful cameras in Parliament helpfully panned to Dasmunsi’s wife Deepa who is now a member of Parliament from her husband’s constituency. If it was about kiranas, why aren’t those opposed to retail FDI, and this includes the SP, also protesting about a Reliance Fresh or a Big Bazaar—after all, it can’t be more honourable for a kirana to die at Reliance’s hands than at Walmart’s.
In any case, anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with retail—which means you go shopping at least once a year—knows, it is not the kiranas that are closing down, it is the big retailers. So Subhiksha shut shop after its 1,600 outlets accumulated a debt of R750 crore and couldn’t pay it back; Pantaloon Retail’s gross debt of R6,300 crore
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