When news of the Centre’s decision to push through the FDI in multi-brand retail emerged, one eager beaver piped up: “Cool! Soon I can shop at Ikea”; another reminisced on the joys of shopping at Tesco and couldn’t wait to relive it in India. And therein lies the rub. To many of the middle-class and other social-aspirers, the entrance into the retail market of large global retail chains holds no fear, quite the opposite.
For years we have been asked to pay exorbitant prices for products that are available for a pittance anywhere else in the world. All this, hopefully, will be a thing of the past when the market turns more competitive. I say hopefully, as it’s likely that the FDI will hit the skids again thanks to political wrangling to appease vote banks. Will there be a fallout if retail FDI is passed? Indeed: just like when the auto industry opened the floodgates to global brands. But people adapt, that’s the beauty of being human. We have to evolve… constantly and consistently, and while the slew of reforms may merely be pre-election eyewash, it’s sorely needed to bolster a flagging economy. India’s burgeoning middle class can be blamed for many things: the rise of neo-conservatism; the spate of intolerance and hyper-sensitivity, but that doesn’t mean we can’t decide what’s good for us. The government should concentrate on governing, and strive to give us a market where choice rules and the consumer is king.
The writer is the editor, Postnoon.