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2005-10-27
Kolkata, India. Why Do We Need Wal-Mart To Come?

Last week representatives of Wal-Mart were in India, meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee. The retailer wants to open stores in Kolkata. During the meeting with Wal-Mart, Bhattacharjee did not express an opinion on Wal-Mart's plans. The Chief Minister told the Financial Express newspaper that the man from Wal-Mart "told me that they are ready to take over the food market, buy all the food, vegetables, fish, flowers, everything from rural districts around Kolkata and send it to Kolkata...I could not tell him no, so I asked him for more time." After the meeting Bhattacharjee told reporters, ''They have given us their proposals and we will discuss it. But it will take time.'' It didn't take much time, however, for Bhattacharjee to say how we really felt about Wal-Mart in India. In a business meeting later, the Chief Minister was quoted as being much more direct in rejecting Wal-Mart. "Why do we need Wal-Mart to come?" Bhattacharjee asked. He said his opposition to Wal-Mart stemmed from the fear that the American retailer would lead to the closure of small vegetable markets in the Kolkata area, and cause many "intermediaries" to lose their jobs. Minister for Commerce and Industries Nirupam Sen reflected the same sentiment. ''Our party has reservations about it as we think it will harm the interests of our local traders and small manufacturers." Sen said. "These department stores bring goods from outside and sell them here. This is undesirable. There are also some shops where you get foreign goods. But very few people go there." Bhattacharjee said that Wal-Mart would disrupt hundreds of jobs in the supply chain from field to table. He added that Indians were perfectly capable of running their own retail companies. "Do we really need foreigners to run the show?" Bhattacharjee asked.

What you can do: Sprawl-Busters gave an interview recently to a business publication in India about Wal-Mart's impact on small towns in America. It is heartening to see that Wal-Mart's reputation has stretched to India. Nations like India represent the global future for Wal-Mart. If they cannot break into India, they will be constrained in their international growth plans, which emphasize China and India, because of their huge demographic pool of low-income people. The Indian government would be well-served to pass a national law limiting the size of retail buildings to a very small, India-appropriate scale. But they better hurry: a Walton is at the door.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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