Tuesday, December 20, 2011

West Bengal needs 51% FDI in retail

51% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail is the need of the hour in India and particularly in West Bengal. Presently FDI is not allowed in Multi-Brand Retailing in India. Whereas it should not only be permitted but also highly encouraged because it will surely benefit the producers (farmers) and the consumers. I’ll discuss it further in this article.

Another Historical Blunder in the making!
Mamata Bannerjee’s strong opposition to 51% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail is like the opposition to computerization by the Communists in the 1960’s- 1970’s and that’s why this opposition is really hard to digest. Opposing the central government just for the sake of opposing is not-at-all a constructive movement for the future of West Bengal. West Bengal is lagging decades behind the progressive states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka in almost every aspect – Apart from Kolkata there’s no other city which was developed in the past 60 years. We the people of West Bengal have unanimously voted Mamata didi into Power to get rid of the tyrannical communists and their ideologies thus, it’s high time that the state “Opens up” for new ideas and new investments wiping out words like “Cholche na- Cholbe na!” out of our dictionary!

Quick-look at the Present Retail scenario:
  • Crumbling Infrastructure: The logistics of the retail chain is still lying in the medieval age leading to inefficient supply of goods. The lack of cold storages in the country and the pathetic Public Distribution system leads to an annual wastage of about 30% fruitsand vegetables produced in India.
    Food Supply Chain Chart
  • Middlemen’s Domination: The middlemen buy produce from the farmers mostly on credit at slashed down prices. Then the produce passes through a series of an average five to six middlemen until it reaches the retailer. In this whole process profit margins of these middlemen plus the profit margin of the retailer hikes the price of the product up to three to four times the actual price. Ultimately the Farmers and the Consumers are the ones who are losing out the bargain. Many a times the middlemen and intermediary traders create false shortage of goods to shoot-up prices.

51% FDI in Multi-Brand retail is for the betterment of “Ma-Mati-Manush”:

  • FDI in retail sector will be very beneficial to the farmers. The farmers will earn profits directly and will get rid of the middlemen and thus they can modernize their farming techniques for better production. Thus, if the farmers benefit, they will sell the product at lower prices in the market this will further create a win-win situation for the farmers and the consumers by wiping out middlemen menace.
  • Organized retailing is at a nascent stage in India whereas 97% of retailing business is run by the unorganized retailers. The entry of retail giants like Wal-Mart, Tesco etc  in Indian retail market would create lakhs of jobs within five to six years. 
  • Another effect of allowing FDI in retail trade would be improvement in quality standards and consumer expectations as inflow of FDI will surely emphasize quality control and bring about competitive pricing. 
    Global Retail Giants
  • Opening up the doors for global retail giants will not only pump in the competition in the retail sector but will also help to establish a direct link between the farmers and the consumers thus, benefitting both. They would surely be interested to develop their own logistics which will be far better than the existing system thus reducing the amount of wastage. Thus, the end consumers will no longer have shell-out extra money for wastage and shortage of products.
  • Development of organized retail chain will boost the economy, greater GDP, greater tax collection and more employment and that too better paying employment. It will bring about advancement in agricultural techniques, supply chain improvement, tourism, greater sourcing from India. Thus, FDI should not be just allowed but encouraged.
Undoubtedly West Bengal is in a mess. We need better infrastructure which can be achieved by opening up routes for Foreign Direct Investment. FDI in retail is must for the benefit of the Farmers , the consumers and the Government. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Victory Day | The 16th of December

Victory Day Celebrations at Dhaka University. Picture By: Atiqur Rahman
The nine month long Bangladesh's Liberation War (মুক্তিযুদ্ধ) was won on the eve of the 16th of December. The Bangla Nation- Bangladesh was freed from the clutches of Pakistan. This day is Celebrated as the Victory Day (বিজয় দিবস) allover Bangladesh and among Bangladeshis living abroad to uphold the spirit of liberation and to pay tribute to the three million martyrs; who laid down their lives protesting against the tyrannical and racist Pakistani Rule.

On 16th of December, 1971 not just the Bangladeshis but also the Bengalis on the Indian side celebrated the Birth of "Bangladesh". I remember my grandmother describing the situation in West-Bengal and other parts of India when the Great News of Liberation of Bangladesh was heard over the radio; the entire Bengali community as well as the non-Bengalis were overjoyed. Newspapers and periodicals featured news of the numerous lives lost and the bravery of the Bengali people in Bangladesh. The cries of “JOY BANGLA” & “JOY BONGOBONDHU” filled the air. Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had then become the Bengali icon- the Father of the Bengali Nation.

Hot air balloon at Shurarwardy Udyan on Victory Day.
Photo Courtesy: Ihtisham Kabir's blog Back to Bangladesh

Courtesy: Flickr- Nurus Salam
The 16th of December was indeed the Victory Day, the victory of the righteous over evil. It forever erased the disgrace of being ruled by others and revived the Bengali Pride among all Bengalis. “JAI BANGLA! Jai Bangla! – From the banks of the great Ganges and the broad Brahmaputra, from emerald rice fields and mustard- colored hills of the countryside, from the countless squares of countless villages came the cry.”  - This was the first line of the article titled- “Bangladesh: Out of War, a Nation is Born” published by the TIME MAGAZING dated 20th December, 1971.

This was the victory of the Bengali spirit – a nation of Bengalis ruled by Bengalis. This joy was short-lived as revelation of the cold blooded “Killing of Bengali Intellectuals”– About 300 Bengali Intellectuals among which were several teachers, doctors, engineers, journalists, artists, poets, scientists and litterateur were captured by the traitor forces (i.e.  Al-ShamsAl-Badr ) & and were ruthlessly killed. The reason behind this cold blooded murder was that the traitors had known that Pakistan was being erased from the Bangla soil and Bangladesh was marking its place in the World Map with the status of a Free & Independent nation; they wanted to ensure that even if Bangladesh emerges as an independent nation- it should never be self-sustainable and remain undeveloped. On 14th of December large number of intellectuals were targeted by the Pakistani army with the help of the information provided by the RazakarsAl-Shams & Al-Badr

Photo Courtesy: A Walk Through My Life
Bangladesh, as a sovereign and independent nation was hard to digest for USA and CHINA- who were strong allies of Pakistan. Thus, USA and CHINA were among the last countries to recognize independent Bangladesh. This 16th of December, Bangladesh will celebrate the 40th Victory day and it feels miserable that till today the prominent war criminals (traitors) are not punished, instead some of the war criminals are leaders of mainstream political parties. These traitors should be punished and they should be strictly kept away from politics because their aim is to play with the minds of innocent people and continue their dirty-politics. Progress and Development is the need of the hour in Bangladesh.

Concluding this post with the first few lines of this beautiful song written by Dwijendra Lal Roy - dedicated to the glory and magnificence of Bangladesh:

"ধনধান্য পুষ্প ভরা আমাদের এই বসুন্ধরা
তাহার মাঝে আছে দেশ এক সকল দেশের সেরা
ও সে স্বপ্ন দিয়ে তৈরি সে যে স্মৃতি দিয়ে ঘেরা
এমন দেশটি কোথাও খুঁজে পাবে নাকো তুমি
সকল দেশের রাণী সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি
সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি, সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি।।"
 -দ্বিজেন্দ্রলাল রায়