With big retail, farmers lose, traders and retailers lose, and consumers lose

Perils of state-aided FDI

Shekar Swamy

Make no mistake about it. Our counrty is about to be economically invaded in the name of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi brand retail, and the consequences are going to be profound. Only this time the guardians of the gate are the ones throwing it open, much to the glee of the few who will benefit from it and to the dismay of the millions whose future is being taken away from them. All of this goes under the name of liberalisation and reform — the euphemism for giving away our markets, perhaps the nation’s most sustainable long term asset.

The state has made it clear that it will go to any length to extend support to the biggest multinationals and aid the entry of big capital into the country. It does not matter if this is detrimental to the indigenous mass of small capital entrepreneurs, farmers and producers of all hues. In making its case, the state has chosen to overlook all evidence available around the world about the continuing negative impact of Big Box retailers.

As this invasion unfolds, it will result in large scale displacement of the small people in favour of big foreign capital. As invaders are wont to do, they will divert the income flows from the local people to large foreign capital. It is deeply regrettable that the state is aiding this through a stream of misleading information and arguments that don’t stand scrutiny.

There is a new master in the house and it’s called ‘foreign investors’. Whatever we do as a nation, the government’s first filter appears to be ‘How will it affect the sentiment of foreign investors? Will they be displeased? What can we do to keep the foreign investor smiling at us?’ The reality is that we should not be devising policies to please this mistress, but doing what is right by our people. By its very nature, foreign capital will frequently threaten to go elsewhere or not come in. It will always demand that conditions should be perfectly suited for it to exploit the local market, never mind how it affects the people. The remarkable point is that even as we have opened the retail markets, the state has not even bargained for any beneficial reciprocal arrangements (like how about increasing the US H1B visas so that a major constraint is removed for our IT industry). This shows how much the state is willing to bend to please the mistress.

How much foreign direct investment has been coming in? It was only $47 bn or 7.7 per cent of total investments in the country in 2011-‘12 (refer graphic see the graphic below). Compare this to non-resident Indian (NRI) remittance inflows of $66 bn (Source: Reserve Bank of India) in the same period, which comes in on its own with no strings attached. If the government wants to, it can significantly boost the inflow of NRI funds, with a little bit of stimulus and a well thought-out programme. While there are good answers like this to get funds into the country, it is inexplicable why the government has chosen to follow anti-people measures, like FDI in the retail sector.

Having decided to aid multinationals, the government has exaggerated and presented erroneous information to support its position. Out of the many such examples, here are two important ones.

Take the figures of losses of agricultural produce. Government officials have repeatedly said that 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables are wasted post-harvest. Therefore FDI in retail is required to develop the back-end infrastructure. This is grossly incorrect. As per a detailed study commissioned by the government and conducted by the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET), Punjab, the wastage of fruits is only between 6 to 18 per cent and vegetables is between 6 to 12.5 per cent. Completed in 2010, CIPHET’s nationwide quantitative assessment of harvest and post-harvest losses covered 46 agricultural produce in 106 randomly selected districts. The summary of the study of post-harvest loss is available on the website of Ministry of Food Processing Industries (http://www.mofpi.nic.in/ContentPage.aspx?CategoryId=1314).

CIPHET’s post-harvest loss estimates in India compare favourably with western countries. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated 36 per cent loss of fruits and vegetables (refer graphic) in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the countries where big retail is most developed. While the methodologies may differ, these figures are nevertheless indicative. If big retail cannot prevent such losses in these countries — or they are responsible for a chunk of it — surely they cannot address this issue in India.

The second example of misrepresentation is the alleged benefits to farmers. The argument goes that since middlemen will be eliminated from the supply chain, farmers will be paid more by the big retailers who will procure directly. While this is elegant in theory, the global experience is the opposite. Procurement of big retailers will hardly touch the small farmers, which is the largest constituent in our country. Big retailers will deal with large contract farms, which become their captive farms. Prices paid to farmers get hammered down consistently. As an example, look at the United Kingdom experience (refer graphic). As the share of the top four retailers increased from 54 per cent in 1996 to 65 per cent in 2006, the farmers’ share of consumer prices has gone down dramatically for milk, fruits and meat & pork.

People argue that this is the way ‘progress’ happens, defined as copying what has happened in the West. However, western retail is a deeply flawed structure. It holds farmers and suppliers captive through its monopsony (a market situation where there are only a few buyers for everything) bargaining power, and has systematically reduced the price paid to them. When compared to India, consumer prices are higher in the West, where big retail rules with its cosy oligopolies, for just about everything.

The global experience is clear. With big retail, farmers lose, traders and retailers lose, and consumers lose. Only the big multinational companies win. How does one explain the state aiding this invasion? The answer is simple. Big capital is the mistress, and mistresses have their ways of winning, and it is seldom the fair path.

Shekar Swamy  is Group CEO, R K SWAMY HANSA and Visiting Faculty, Northwestern University, USA. E-mail: shekar.swamy@rksbbdo.com

http://newindianexpress.com/opinion/article1301269.ece

 

Over 2500 women converted to Islam in Kerala since 2006, says Oommen Chandy

M G Radhakrishnan
Trivandrum, Tuesday, September 4, 2012 | 13:45 IST
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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
The shrill debate over love jihad is back again following a spate of recent incidents. On June 25, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2667 young women were converted to Islam in the state since 2006.

On June 27, the state high court ordered the Kozhikode City Police Commissioner on June 27 to probe an alleged case of “love jihad” in which a 20-year-old Hindu girl eloped from a hospital in Kochi with a Muslim boy after the girl’s parents filed a habeas corpus petition. On July 19, Deepa Cherian (31) a former Christian housewife converted to Islam was arrested for allegedly delivering SIM cards to a key terror suspect languishing in prison.

Chandy gave the figures related to conversions in state legislature as a written answer to an unstarred question raised by K K Latika, a CPI(M) legislator. According to Chief Minister a total number of 7713 persons were converted to Islam during 2006-2012 as against 2803 conversions to Hinduism. Interestingly he said no statistics was available as to the number converted to Christianity during the period. Among those converted to Islam during 2009-12, as many as 2667 were young women of which 2195 were Hindus and 492 were Christians. As against this number of young women converted during 2009-12 to Christianity and Hinduism were 79 and two respectively.

Chief Minister said there was no information regarding the original religions of women who converted to Hinduism and Christianity.

However Chandy said that there was no evidence for forced conversions in the state and the fears about love jihad were baseless. “We will not allow forcible conversions. Nor will we allow to spread hate campaign against Muslims in the name of love jihad” said Chandy in response to Lathika’s demand for inquiry into forcible conversions.

Hindu and Christian groups are up in arms again repeating their long-standing demand for a thorough investigation into the phenomenon of “love jihad” in which Muslim youths allegedly lure young women from other communities to convert to Islam feigning love.

“Love Jihad in Kerala is part of global Islamisation project” said Global Council of Indian Christians. In 2009 Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) had stated that more than 2600 young Christian women were converted to Islam since 2006. KCBC’s Vigilance Commission for Social Harmony had called Christians to be on guard against the phenomenon.

Rahul Eswar of the Kerala’s Hindu Parliament, an umbrella organisation of various Hindu groups called for an immediate inquiry into the phenomenon. “The state police’s attempt in 2009 was to suppress facts about this phenomenon. This will lead to communal flare-ups. Forced conversions undertaken by Islamists will be cited by Hindu fanatics to establish their legitimacy” warned he.

Organisations like BJP, Hindu Aikyavedi etc too have called for inquiry and lambasted the state government’s policy to whitewash the issue under pressure from Muslim League. Hindu groups have pointed out growth in Kerala’s Muslim population rate has been double that of Hindus and Christians. Hindus, Muslims and Christians form 55, 25 and 19 percent respectively in Kerala’s population of 3.33 crore.

Cherian, a former Christian housewife was arrested in Kochi for allegedly providing two SIM cards to V Noushad – her boyfriend according to the police – who is interred in Ernakulam sub jail in connection with a drug peddling case. Naushad allegedly handed over the cards to T. Nazir suspected to be a top Lashkar-e-Tayeba operative in South India who also is languishing in the same prison in connection with a number of terror cases including the bomb blasts in Bangalore.

According to the police Cherian who was in Dubai with her husband and children had become friendly with Noushad who was working as a bus driver there. She allegedly left her family and returned to India with Noushad subsequently and got converted to Islam. According to police Noushad is suspected to have faked involvement in a narcotic case in order to get lodged in the jail and assist Nazeer who is alleged to have made many international calls using the SIM card.

“Love Jihad” had kicked up much dust in 2009 in Kerala and Karnataka after Hindu groups like Hindu Aikyavedi and Sree Rama Sene began campaign against alleged attempts to lure young women by Muslim youths feigning love and using them for immoral or terror activities. The issue acquired serious attention when the state high court ordered asked the police to inquire into the allegations related to love jihad. This followed the complaints filed by the parents of two Hindu college girls saying their two Muslim college mates had cheated them into converting to Islam by promises of love. But the state police after investigation had informed the court that though there were complaints about attempts to convert by feigning love that there was no evidence for the existence of an organisation named love jihad in the state. After this the court withdrew its order to inquire into the issue.

In another case in 2009 Karnataka Police too had informed the Karnataka high court that there was no evidence for the prevalence of love jihad in that state. This led to the fizzling out of the campaign by Hindu and Christian groups about the phenomenon in both states.

Muslim groups condemned the repeated attempts to spread hatred against Muslims in the name of a non-existent love jihad. Muslim League, second largest constituent in the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) government has strongly denied occurrence of any forced conversions.

“Love Jihad is a myth being perpetrated by interested groups to vilify Muslims. How can any one use force in a state like Kerala where all religions, media and civil society in general are so vigilant? The conversions could be voluntary or the result of inter-religious marriages” said Abdurehman
Randathani, MLA and League’s secretary.

“It reminded of the racist propaganda in the US some time ago against blacks who were accused of luring white women. It is an attempt to demonise the Muslims” Umer Tasneem, Muslim scholar and English professor at the Calicut University. He smells a rat in Chief Minister Chandy, a Christian, not revealing the statistics of conversions to Christianity. “Why only conversion to Islam evokes emotions? Conversions to other groups are seen spontaneous”.

Eswar too says Christians still lead in organising conversions. “A single major evangelist in Kerala has officially admitted of receiving more than Rs 1000 crores last year as financial contributions from abroad. Pentacoastal Missions in Kerala have converted lakhs of persons in last 5 years giving allurements” says Eswar.

According to top sources in police as many as 15 lakhs have been converted to Christianity in the last 20 years as per official statistics provided by the State Converted Christian Corporation. “Muslims have only two institutions and Hindus only one who have the authority to convert. But every Christian church has this right” said a top police official.

According the Christian Persecution Update, a website run by Bangalore-based Christian group, Cherian was only the latest victim of Love Jihad also called Romeo Jihad, a global project by Islamist groups to lure women from other communities feigning love to make them accomplices in immoral or terror activities.

“It is a serious issue. We should seriously address it so that no tension is created in Kerala between communities” warned Fr Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar church, the largest Catholic church.

our swayamsevak are also in congress – Mohan rao Bhagabat

काग्रेस में भी हमारे स्वयं सेवक हैं : मोहन भागवत
Oct 05, 11:56 am
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राची। राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के प्रमुख मोहन भागवत एक बार अपने एक बयान के जरिए चर्चा में आ गए है। गुरुवार को उन्होंने कहा कि संघ का भाजपा से कोई खास लगाव नहीं है। हमारे लिए सभी दल बराबर हैं। उन्होंने कहा कि संघ का राजनीति से कोई वास्ता नहीं है। संघ के लिए सभी दल अपने हैं। और सभी दलों में संघ के स्वयं सेवक काम करते हैं। यहां तक कि कांग्रेस व साम्यवादी दलों से भी हमारे स्वयं सेवक जुड़े हुए हैं। जो भी संघ के आदर्श को मानेगा, उनके लिए हमारे दरवाजे खुले हैं।
गुरुवार को राची में संघ की ओर से आयोजित प्रबुद्ध जन संवाद कार्यक्रम में संघ प्रमुख मोहन भागवत ने लोगों को संबोधित करते हुए कहा कि संघ का राजनीति से संबंध नहीं है। राजनीति समाज को तोड़ने का काम करती है, जोड़ने का नहीं और संघ का काम समाज को संगठित करने के साथ-साथ व्यक्ति का निर्माण करना है। संघ के लिए कोई पार्टी अछूत नहीं। हमारी विचारधारा को मानते हुए जो भी मदद मागेगा, करेंगे। सभी पार्टियों में स्वयंसेवक हैं, भाजपा में ज्यादा हैं। इसलिए उनकी संघ से ज्यादा निकटता है। वे किसी मुद्दे पर हमसे मदद मागते हैं, वहीं दूसरे दल वाले इसके लिए हिम्मत नहीं जुटा पाते। उन्हें लाज आती है।
संघ का काम व्यक्ति व समाज का निर्माण है राजनीति करना नहीं। सरसंघचालक मोहन राव भागवत ने राम मंदिर निर्माण के प्रति कटिबद्धता दर्शाते हुए कहा कि यह हो कर रहेगा। इसके लिए जनआदोलन के माध्यम से संसद पर कानून बनाने के लिए दबाव बनाया जाएगा। इस आदोलन में मुस्लिमों से भी शामिल होने की बात कही। भागवत ने मुस्लिमों से संघ की शाखाओं पर भी आने की बात कही।
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