मंगलवार, 20 दिसंबर 2011

FDI, Retail and Me

We all have heard about the latest buzz regarding FDI, finally govt. has somebody else as trouble ( thanks to Mr. Wal-Mart and friends) than its dearest well wisher Mr. Hazare. They say FDI is a serious business in retail, it can give upliftment to existing kirana store or Mom n Pop stores (as Goras would like to call them), it would benefit farmers, unemployed youth and consumers who would get everything under one roof at a cheap price, all these claims are made by the govt. just like other claims regarding fair justice, less inflation, CWG and telecom scam investigations. So, I have my doubts on it.

I imagine how FDI or MNC could improve our retail sector, as we can see there are already at least 10 kirana stores operating in the same lane where we live. My statement could be superfluous but running a departmental store is the most common business activity as it makes a person self-employed and free from the tortures of somebody else who is superior to him/her. Take me, I work as a daily laborer, who gets a monthly salary that has no specific date and has to face insult, agony and abusiveness of my clients and superiors, I have to confront all this even after a degree of Post-graduation in management (and I am not the only one), they say unemployment would go away but what about the increased medical (or drug and alcohol..:)) bills to take care of the stress. If you would take away this self-employed opportunity then a majority of them would end up working underpaid, (may be their business is not as profitable but at least they have a sense of pride).
MNCs say that they can improve our retail sector by their strong distribution channels, which would help in reducing the cost to customer and a better deal for farmers with exclusion of middlemen. But don’t European and Americans know that for better distribution or supply chain you first require better roads or basic infrastructure facilities which our country lacks terribly. So, either they build new and improved roads which are impossible to happen or they would choose these same middlemen who would outsource this work to them. So poor farmers condition remain the same and the one which lacks road connectivity would reconsider their thoughts of suicide after watching the same middlemen coming to them with much more power and strength.

But don’t forget consumers, who would get things cheaper, so, we finally have a winner? Cheaper by how much, may be one rupee or two. Of course how silly of me they would not go there to buy couple of products but to buy grocery for the whole month and for this they would take out their cars which unfortunately runs on petrol (how about a retail shop for a cheap petrol) to go to the neighborhood mall which would charge you insane parking ticket (especially on weekend) and by doing a little math we would found out things are not as cheap. In fact, back home we could still buy the same grocery from our local store at a reasonable price, who would be more than happy to deliver the products at home without any extra charges.

I am not against any FDIs or FIIs (don’t ask me what’s the latter) but how can govt. be so naïve that it expects miracle from global retail players. If given a better connectivity to farmers, who knows they might come out with their own unique supply chain management which could beat any top player in the game.  Though, personally I believe in more participation of foreign firms in almost every sector so that we could have a better global exposure sitting at home but not under the blindness such as this. Remember to beat them in their own game first we need to know the rules and we could learn these rules better only through them.

A lost soul