If the potholed highways, the gridlocked politics and the bad tax codes weren’t enough, those against big retail can take heart from another recent US practice. The Economist reports that Washington DC has just passed a rule that, without specifically talking about Walmart, is aimed at it since it requires retailers, with at least $1 billion in annual sales and stores of more than 75,000 square feet, to pay their workers $12.50 an hour, or 50% more than the city’s maximum wage of $8.25 that, in turn, is a dollar above the federal rate.
Clearly, Washington’s politicians are willing to give up the 1,800 new jobs Walmart is promising—this, despite the fact that DC’s unemployment rate is 3 points higher than the neighbouring state of Virginia. Much the same is happening in India where, never mind the evidence, the political class is bent on playing the same games. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that with India’s GDP likely to grow at 15% annually, even if the share of organised retail grows from 6% today to 20%, that still leaves enough room for kiranas to grow at over 13% a year. But who’s interested in logic? In either Washington or in Delhi.