Will supermarkets benefit Indian farmers or destroy business for millions of baniya retailers?
The Gandhis who apparently buy into the former idea, have staged a rally to show new support for the economic reforms.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi gathered crowds at New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on Sunday. Their purpose – to highlight the UPA government’s economic agenda ahead of the 2014 general elections and counter its opponents given the series corruption scandals the country has seen lately.
“FDI (foreign direct investment) in retail will not only benefit farmers but also unemployed youth and the common man,” said Sonia Gandhi to a crowd of mainly rural supporters.
While critics including the Bharatiya Janata party purport that the entry of Walmart would be a detriment to farmers, the government argues that supermarket chains would build the infrastructure required to unblock supply bottlenecks and bring down prices.
Currently, a lack of cold storage facilities and high quality granaries means that up to a third of India’s food production goes to waste. However according to Rahul Gandhi, the FDI policy of the government would fix this issue, ensuring more profits to farmers in the long term.
“If the poor have to progress, then FDI is needed, the economic reforms are needed,” he said.