Indian Retail : Conflicts within

The emergence of large format organised retailing in India in the future spells good times for farmers. They are expected to sell directly to the retailers and realise better returns off their output vis a vis the scenario today where they have to go through middlemen and traders.

Yet the ones who would be badly hit with emergence of these very same large format retailers would be the middleman/trader and the 'mom n pop' stores.

Now who should the consumer side with? The answer is another question. Is there any reason for the consumer to want to maintain retail status quo and remain a patroniser of unorganised retail stores, when he has a chance of enjoying rock bottom prices at organised large retail stores. The answer this time around is simple. No reason at all.

For years the consumer has been at the mercy of unorganised retail stores that have made a killing with sub standard products and faulty weights. This has to change and will do so in the future. There also must be no sympathy lost for the middlemen and traders who have gotten fatter the past few decades through unethical practices including hoarding. Has the farmer's lot in past been any good? Check out the desolate picture of farmer suicides in India and one will know what its been like for the farming community.

The communist parties should leave business dynamics to those who understand them and stick to their socially relevant issues, that they have admirably managed in the past. I am reminded of what Cho Ramaswamy once said, If the 'Left' has a future in India, India has no future left.

The conflict within retail in India is brewing. There are reports of farmers protesting in Jharkhand against efforts to stop big retailers from buying tomatoes directly from them. In contrast, there were reports from another city of small retailers protesting in front of a Reliance Fresh showroom saying it was ruining their business. Politicians, of course, are entering the fray to oppose the entry of large retail chains, but clearly economic forces are now going to play a larger role.


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