Hard Knocks: The retail FDI tamasha

30 Nov,2011

By Anil Thakraney


Total bullshit is going on over the subject of FDI in the multi-brand retail market. India is a vast, complicated, multi-layered nation. There are all sorts of market segments out here, based on all sorts of classifications… social, economic, regional, etc… each with its own needs and behavioural patterns. There is room for every kind of business out here. Co-existence is indeed the soul of this nation.


Take a drive down Bandra in Mumbai. At a traffic signal, affectionately parked next to each other, you will notice a Benz, a Nano, a Luna and a bicycle. Ditto in a Punjab village. A loaded farmer would flaunt his latest Rolex. While one of his minders is eyeing that brand new 20 inch colour TV. Similarly, there is a market for Tesco. And a market for Nilgiris super market. And a market for the guy who runs the local kirana shop. Because there are various market segments they cater to. And even within each segment, a consumer would have different needs at different times. A housewife will want to indulge in a super store. But back home in the evening she will call her kirana guy for six eggs and pickle.


And if at all there is increased competition, isn’t that a good thing for the consumers? Retailers will have to improve their offerings and service. The grocer in my building complex is a smart chappie, he’s already seen the future. Not only does he promptly send me maida and bread, he also helps with paying my electricity bill and offers to get appliances repaired, for a small fee.


So basically, the whole tamasha is about the opposition parties trying to show the Congress-led UPA in a poor light. By scuttling their ideas. And the only thing they’ve managed to achieve is to get the anti-corruption bill off the agenda, as the parliament fights over retail chains.


Who would have thought Walmart could trump Anna Hazare. Happens only in India.




PS: Quite liked this ad from Chrysler. Talking tough, talking steel, talking business. Detroit’s fighting back, and how! Also, aggro, spirited singer Eminem is the perfect guy to represent them. Good one.

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