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India’s shopkeepers brace for Wal-Mart

January 9th, 2007 · No Comments

Walmart’s Entry to India should NOT be smooth, and hopefully, there should be no Walmart in India, ever. The reason I say this is, unlike in the US, employment and livelihood is a lifelong commitment for most. In the US, if you lose your job which was flipping burgers, you can move on to trimming lawns – not so in India.

If you want to be a waiter, you start at a young age, clean tables, and keep doing so till you get that waiter’s job, and then you hope to remain a waiter till you die. If you are puzzled at why this is so, just think “specialization” and “population pressure”. If Walmart ever steps into India, it will be the end for so many small businesses and shop owners and their employees – it is unthinkable. Walmart might make HUGE profits but every cent of that profit will be at the cost of the local economy and I don’t believe a single cent of the profit will go to India – India will gain nothing, absolutely.

Most Indians are complacent now (See excerpt from an article below), but that just reminds one of when the British East India Co. came to India to “do business” and ended up ruling the subcontinent for a couple of centuries!

India’s 40 million shopkeepers brace for Wal-Mart effect | csmonitor.com

This is most shopkeepers’ perception of Wal-Mart: Western-style glitz at Western prices. It begets disquiet, but not panic. The local market will continue to survive because it has always been cheaper, they say. But when he is informed that Wal-Mart’s philosophy is to sell large volumes at the lowest prices, Mr. Bhatia’s countenance drops.