Sir — The United Progressive Alliance government has passed the FDI test in the Lok Sabha, albeit with the help of walkouts by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, and has thus proved its ability to muster a majority (“On feet after M&M stroll, govt looks for RS leg-up”, Dec 6). Even a united Opposition failed to get a majority vote for the motion against foreign direct investment in retail. The motion, moved by the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, was defeated by a margin of 35 votes. Of the 471 members present and voting, only 218 voted in favour of the motion.
In spite of its clear resolution, the parliamentary debate on FDI in retail did not project a neat division between the politics of progress and the politics of obstruction. Apart from the Left, the views of which are predictable, most other parties appeared shifty and opportunistic, and their fervently expressed opinions were not entirely in good faith. The parties opposed to FDI failed to convey exactly what it was they were trying to oppose — organized business or global money.
However, now that this contentious issue has been resolved — after a lot of time has already been spent on it at the cost of other crucial matters — all parties should respect the decision and move ahead. They should make efforts to deal with the other issues pending in Parliament. That would be true democracy in action.
Dilbag Rai, Chandigarh
Sir — The hue and cry over FDI in retail is unnecessarily exaggerated. Anyone with a passing knowledge of economics can tell that it will boost the crumbling Indian economy. However, the question is hardly about the economy or the condition of the poor. The nation should understand that the issue of FDI is being turned into an agenda for the political classes and the business houses. The biggest threat posed by FDI in retail is for the Indian corporate houses, since it is likely to challenge their monopoly in the market.
It has been argued that by allowing FDI in retail, the government will harm the businesses of small retailers. However, even with an elementary knowledge of the market it is easy to understand that in order to compete with big foreign players in retail, small and medium retailers just need to reconstruct their strategy. This will pave the way for healthy competition in the market — which will help the developing economy. Parliamentarians need to understand that the decision of allowing FDI in retail is not as big or complicated as they are making it seem. It is high time that the resolution reached in Parliament is accepted and worked with. There are also other important issues that need to be taken care of by the law-makers.
Niharika Sharma, Dhenkanal, Odisha
Sir — The UPA government’s claim to victory on the FDI debate in the Lok Sabha hardly seems well deserved. The SP and the BSP, which had earlier opposed FDI, walked out and ensured the victory of the UPA government. Politicians whose stands on issues are not constant should not be allowed to be a part of parliamentary proceedings.
M.M. Kale, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh
Sir — The motion against the decision of the UPA government to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi brand retail was defeated in Parliament. However, it has been alleged that the walkouts by the SP and the BSP — which ensured the defeat of the motion against FDI — were an arranged, strategic move. It is interesting that there are two cases of the Central Bureau of Investigation — a disproportionate assets case and the Taj corridor case — shadowing Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayavati respectively.
N.K. Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — In the article, “Fears of invasion” (Dec 7), Swapan Dasgupta says that the Congress “calculated that ‘reforms’ is the big idea that will... rekindle hope in the future”. He infers that the government “has come out of its bunker and gambled on the potential appeal of a big idea”. The crucial debate over the pros and cons of FDI in retail comes at a time when FDI no longer constitutes mere “reform”. It is akin to gambling now. At the same time, the UPA’s victory in the debate may enable it to offer a better deal as reforms to the people in the future.
R. Subhranshu, Chandernagore, Hooghly