Ripe pickings for Western supermarket giants in India

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Blog: The go-ahead for Western supermarket mammoths to set  up shop in India received the green light last night from the Indian Government, according to press reports today. Giant supermarket chains such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco are said to be salivating at the prospect of the profit bonanza that they are certain to harvest as a result.

The procedure is well-honed. The foreign superstores will use their massive overseas earnings to subsidise prices during their initial onslaught on the massive Indian market. The aim and result will be to lure customers away from the country’s ubiquitous family-run small retail businesses. Most of those businesses, unable to compete with the predatory pricing of the multinationals, will fold. Masses of small shopkeepers and local entrepreneurs, who currently run their own businesses, will be thrown on the scrap heap. Those few lucky enough to acquire jobs in the new supermarkets will have to content themselves with competitive (ie minimum) pay rates and, after being their own bosses, will have the mind-numbing task of filling shelves or manning tills in the new supermarkets. Initially, customers may be attracted to the new stores by the introduction of new lines of western merchandise hitherto not sold in India, but the novelty will soon wear off and very quickly they will find themselves faced with the invariable consequence of the westernization of long-established native markets, ie the homogenisation of products and a reduction in choice – which was the aim of the exercise in the first place as far as the western supermarket giants were concerned. At the same time, of course, once native competition has been eliminated, prices will rise, the market being at the mercy of the oligarchy of five or six major international combines who will have carved it up between them. After all, the multinationals have to find some way of recouping the subsidies they intially funded in order to break into the market. Globalisation, don’t we love you!

With a population of 1.2 billion, India is set to overtake China (1.3 billion) as the world’s most populous nation. Ripe pickings beckon!

The late James Goldsmith, an Anglo-French businessman, was once sitting in a village on a mountain in Bhutan surveying the scene. It was market day and the village was thronged with peasants come to town from the surrounding villages. The stalls were colourful, the market bustled, the sun shone. It was a typical scene that had not changed for centuries in this peaceful Himalayan Kingdom. But for Goldsmith this was his Road to Damascus. He had come to Bhutan to sell Western widgets of one kind or another, but he suddenly saw the light. These people had lived together satisfactorily for hundreds of years in this mountain fastness largely cut off from western influences. What business had he or any other western interloper to march in with his bag of shiny baubles and seek to destroy a way of living that had by itself and without outside help withstood the test of time?

Goldsmith’s elder brother, Edward, developed this vision more fully, founding the Ecologist magazine and making the preservation of the planet his life’s work.

Wikipedia: “Throughout the 1960s he [Edward Goldsmith] spent time travelling the world with his close friend John Aspinall witnessing firsthand the destruction of traditional societies, concluding that the spread of economic development, and its accompanying industrialisation, far from being progressive as claimed, was actually the root cause of social and environmental destruction.[3][4][5]

Is the Government of India listening today? Unfortunately, it is not. And it is the Indian people that will suffer as a result, their age-old way of life inevitably crushed to smithereens under the bull-dozers of western capitalism.

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