Belfast Telegraph

Backlash over India's retail move

India's new open-door policy for foreign retailers is stirring a backlash from some state governments who fear the move will be unpopular with their constituencies of small traders and shop owners.

The new regulations do not require parliamentary approval but, to set up shop, foreign retailers such as Wal-Mart and Tesco must get a green light from the Government of the state where they want to do business.

Five state leaders made clear over the weekend their unwillingness to let foreign companies in. Parliament adjourned yesterday amid uproar over the issue and Communist Party-controlled trade unions have pledged to strike on December 1.

The central Government has taken out advertisements to quell critics, championing the new rules as a way to make food cheaper for everyone, eliminate waste which claims up to 40% of all fresh produce, and create millions of jobs.

The leaders of the states of Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Orissa and West Bengal have all publicly opposed the ruling Congress Party's move to let foreign retailers own up to 51% of supermarkets and 100% of single-brand stores, according to the Press Trust of India.

India's main opposition BJP party as well as the Congress Party's coalition ally, the Trinamool Congress, have also voiced opposition.

India's Hindustan Times newspaper calculated that 28 of the 53 cities where retailers could set up under the new rules are in states controlled by political parties opposed to the regulations.