It may be noted that in a August 2011 policy paper titled "Impact of the Retail FDI Policy on Indian Consumers and the Way Forward", Prof Arpita Mukherjee et al "recommends that retail FDI policy needs to focus on how it can benefit the majority of the Indian consumers (especially the low and middle-income consumers) by giving them access to branded products at lower prices. However, the present FDI restriction on multi-brand retail does not allow multi-brand retailers such as Wal-Mart and Tesco, which have a low-margin, low-price business model to service the Indian consumer directly, leading to a loss of consumer welfare. This has led to a reduction in consumer welfare." This paper said, "FDI should allowed be in multi-brand retail in a phased manner. This will also facilitate investment in the supply chain and increase domestic sourcing." It is clear that this paper was prepared prior to the assurance given by the Leader of the House and Union Finance Minister on December 7, 2011 suspending decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.
The opening sentence of the ICRIER paper read: "There is a close linkage between economic development, rise in per capita income, growing consumerism, proliferation of branded products, and retail modernisation." This "close link" is deeply flawed. The welfare of citizens in general is distinct from consumer welfare. There is an attempt to blur that distinction with ulterior motives.
Is it a coincidence that MPs including N K Singh have raised the issue of IPRS funding with the Union Home Secretary (attached news report 23rd October 2012, The New Indian Express) ahead of the debate in Parliament on FDI in retail?
Even The Times of India has reported that Home Ministry refuses nod for Ford Foundation funds to IPRS. Replying to a question on the IPRS issue in Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home, Mullappally Ramachandran has said, "There is no specific adverse input against IPRS. However, the government is of the opinion that making Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly direct recipients of foreign contribution would result in making Indian parliamentary institutions vulnerable to foreign agencies, which has the potential to compromise the integrity of Parliament and legislative institutions, thereby providing prejudicial to public interest and national security."
These reports allude to lobbying by Ford Foundation, Wal-Mart and others. In view of the attached papers there is a compelling logic for a parliamentary probe into the goings on that subverts the legislative will of the Parliament and compromises country's interest. Unsuspecting MPs are being targeted by corporate lobbies.
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