Shops, markets close nationwide to oppose FDI in multi-brand retail
December, 02nd 2011
Shops and traditional markets downed shutters nationwide on Thursday in support of a bandh call given by traders' associations to oppose FDI in multi-brand retail. Business, however, was usual at most new-format retailers.
As many as 15,000 trade bodies participated in the 'Bharat vyapar bandh' that caused an estimated loss of Rs 10,000 crore, according to the Confederation of All India Traders, a loose grouping of wholesalers and shopkeepers, that spearheaded the agitation.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has been faced with widespread fury over its decision last week to allow retail giants such as Walmart to own 51% of large multi-brand stores in India.
But he has refused to back down, saying the opening-up will drive down prices, reduce huge wastage of perishable goods and profit farmers. Although the confederation's general secretary, Praveen Khandelwal, claimed the bandh was successful, large new-format retailers stayed open, closing shop only where violence was feared.
"It was a successful trade bandh that amply demonstrated the anger and resentment of the trading community of India," Khandelwal said. Traders took to the streets in the Capital, Mumbai and several towns in Uttar Pradesh. Most downtown shops across the main metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata remained closed.
In Delhi, local grocery and apparel retailers in markets such Sadar Bazaar, Chawri Bazar, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh, Rajouri Garden and Preet Vihar remained closed. But large retailers, including Bharti Retail's Easyday and Future group's Big Bazaar, were open for business at most locations. They were shut only at places where the situation so warranted.
In Uttar Pradesh, the bandh evoked mixed response. Traders took out protest marches and burnt effigies of UPA government and commerce minister Anand Sharma in Lucknow. They also presented a memorandum to the Governor BL Joshi, demanding roll back of the FDI decision.
Confederation of West Bengal Trade Association, with over half-a-million small and medium traders as members, said all sister trade bodies supported the bandh. It said most wholesale and retail markets, including Posta Bazaar, Bagri market, Mullickbazar, Phoolbagan, Gariahat Market and New Market, remained shut.
Shops in Bankura, Durgapur, Raniganj, Asansol, Howrah and Burdwan were closed, too. However, leading malls, including South City Mall, City Centre and Forum, all remained open as did high-street stores and stand-alone outlets of Pantaloons and Westside.
WEST & SOUTH
More than one lakh traders and retailers shut shop in Mumbai, causing an estimated loss of Rs 500 crore. "This loss is nothing.
If FDI is permitted, we will lose much more, including our jobs and shops," said Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders' Welfare Association. Police detained about 20 protestors, including president of BJP Mumbai unit, Raj Purohit.
In Bangalore, home to India's first cash-andcarry store, the response to the bandh call was mixed. Most malls and stores in the city's residential and shopping areas were open.