Today’s New York Times features a puff piece on Indian entrepreneur Sunil Bharti Mittal tooting his horn about his recent deal with Wal-Mart to set up a wholesale distribution system.
Amidst all his prattle about the cold chain, the trucking, storageÂ etc, what caught our attention in the NYT story was Sunil Mittal’s juvenile boast that India
can become a food supplier to the rest of the world.
What is Sunil Mittal smoking? Come, onÂ India is a country that still can’t feed all its citizens let alone becoming food supplier to the rest of the world.
More than 60 years after Independence, Indian media sources periodically report starvation deaths in different corners of the country.
India’s million-plus small retailers and their employees rightly fear the entry of huge chains like Wal-Mart will drive them out of business. Without a safety net, where will these folks go?
In many parts of the U.S., mom-and-pop stores have been wiped out because of chain stores like Wal-Mart. After the public outcry against Wal-Mart, some cities in California, Illinois and New York have been reluctant to let Wal-Mart open outlets in their localities.
Wal-Mart also has a shabby trackrecord vis-a-vis its employees in the U.S., many of whom are poorly paid and rely on the government for their medical care because of their low wages.
Do we really need companies like Wal-Mart in India?
Recently, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati did the right thing in shutting down 10 Reliance Industries superstores after protests by small traders and political activists.