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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wal-Mart - The Conspiracy Theory!

New Delhi, November 28, 2011
“NDA convener and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain
said the question of allowing Parliament to function does not arise till government withdraws the decision on FDI.”

“Anna Hazare has announced that he will go on a fast at Ramlila ground from December 27 to January 5 if the governmnet fails to pass the Lokpal Bill.”

“BJP today backed Anna Hazare's decision to go on fast next month if the government fails to pass the Lokpal Bill in this Parliament session, saying it stands firmly behind him for a strong anti-graft watchdog.”

These are three separate news splashed in the media the same day. And what an anomaly! On the one hand BJP, the main opposition party in the Parliament, is dead set to stall the winter session of the House, and in the next breath it declares to back Anna Hazare's decision to go on fast if the government fails to pass the Lokpal Bill in this session. And Anna Hazare announcing the same day to go on fast next month if the government fails to pass the Bill in this session – is it a coincident or behind the scenes Anna Team is conspiring with the Opposition to corner the Congress party? Time will tell, but for now seems obvious the way the three news came the same day. In any case, the common man in India is too intelligent to be taken for a ride and will see through their tactics sooner than they can imagine.

The Opposition argument that retailers will be ruined with Wal-Mart entering the retail business falls flat in front of the facts. Nowhere in the world such a thing has happened and the Indian retail sector, one of the largest in the world, is too strong to be adversely affected by a single store such as the Wal-Mart. Here is an example from the actual happening that demolishes all such doubts:

Alwar, not so big a city in Rajasthan, was all excitement when Big Bazar, the large department store chain announced their decision to open a branch there. The consumers could not wait to see this happening in their comparatively small town, but the retailers lost their sleep having nightmares of the big store swallowing their business overnight. But no such thing happened. Not even one out of the numerous already existing small retail stores had to close down because of the Big Bazar competition. Now, nearly five years after the Big Bazar entered the Alwar retail scene, all the retailers, Big and small are flourishing in this fast expanding city. The only difference is that the neighborhood retail store has to think twice before overcharging its customers because of the Big brother's presence in the city, for whom the consumer has obvious affection for its price-cutting ethos. As shoppers become increasingly focused on the price of everything they buy, Big Bazar continues to work even harder, helping customers and their families save money while providing their associates with opportunities to build skills, advance their careers, and make a difference in their communities. In short, Big Bazar has a positive effect on Alwar economy, stimulating growth, lowering prices and creating jobs. What Big Bazar has done in Alwar, so can Wal-Mart in big cities when it comes there.

With foreign direct investment (FDI) being allowed in multi-brand retail, the Indian retail scene is set for a dramatic makeover. In the past two decades, Indian consumers have experienced the best that sectors like telecom, IT have to offer - thanks to these sectors opening up. That cannot be said of the Indian retail sector. The gap between the Indian and the international retail experience is huge - a yawning gap. In fact, that gap is the widest in the developing world. The opening of retail for foreign investment will reduce it. In modern retail, when a consumer walks into a hypermarket and buys a pack of detergent, s/he makes a choice between 10 and 15 brands and then chooses one out of 400 packs. That's the starting point of the art and science of shoppers' choice in the modern retail world. Everything, from packaging to promotion to pricing, is designed to get the attention of the shopper. The art of merchandising is far more evolved. Displays are better, lighting in the hypermarkets are standardized and there are either sales promotion people who educate on which brands you should buy or a promotional video running in the background. If you are buying a food product, the chances are that you will get to sample it. Mall culture is the norm of the day, its good for consumers to window shop and then decide to buy. This is the global way of retailing and large stores like Wal-Mart are only a part of it, no more. Quite contrary to BJP's perception, such stores are a boon for the consumers, and certainly not the monsters that may destroy the livelihood of people, who currently are engaged in the wholesale or retail business. It is a false propaganda of the Opposition and a dangerous move in the wrong direction that would take the country backward, instead of contributing to its emergence as the next super economic power. And all this only to serve their own interest to wrest power from the ruling party by whatever dubious means they can adopt, even by conspiring with Anna Team to create chaos through Anna's threats to fast. But at the end of the day they will be severely disappointed as they are underestimating the intelligence of the people of India, who will surely understand that the story of Wal-Mart is really the story of the transformation of the global economy for the consumer benefits and see Wal-Mart's staggering growth in the larger context of globalization. Both BJP and Anna Hazare also must already be aware of these realities of the modern world but prefer to keep their eyes closed in order to remain key players in the play: Wal-Mart – the conspiracy theory.


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