Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wal-Mart's De-Employment Program For India

Word is spreading through the galaxy today about what must surely be one of the most awful ideas of recent history -- a plan to set up Wal-Mart superstores in India, of all places. Here's a Reuters story on the subject.

As anyone who has been there for more than thirty minutes can attest, if there is one thing that India doesn't need it is more stores. Since its many thousands of shops are a path to upward mobility for even the poorest Indians, Wal-Mart's arrival would be devastating. It would be nothing less than a massive de-employment program.

As I pointed out in my column a couple of weeks ago, when Indians are pushed up against the wall, violence can erupt. Delhi merchants have taken to the streets because of a plan to shutter many of their shops, and civil disobedience (or worse) is more likely than not if Wal-Mart arrives.

One report today says that the deal has been sucked into a "political whirlpool." Left-wing parties, "which provide crucial support to the Congress-led UPA government, asked trade unions to launch a nationwide action against the entry of Wal-Mart and other multinational retailers into the domestic market."

Hopefully this terrible idea will be protested peacefully, then consumed by India's legendary red tape, and then die a quiet death.

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.


Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.

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