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India rallies against big retailers

Lisa Napoli Oct 10, 2007


Lisa Napoli: In India today, the largest protest of its kind against retail giants like Wal-Mart — 20,000 people turned out in Mumbai. There’s been an ongoing fight against Western-style stores in the nation where large companies still only have 3 percent of the market. This morning, I talked to Jean Parker in India about it.

Jean Parker: Most of India’s retail is still of the unorganized variety. And that would be things like street vendors, people who sell things door-to-door, people who own small shops. So the small shopkeepers and farmers, they’re afraid they’re going to lose their livelihood. The customers will go to the newer, more glitzy-looking shopping centers, rather than go to their neighborhood shops that they’ve been going to all these years.

Napoli: So, you’ve got an encroachment of conglomerates. It’s not that the conglomerates aren’t there yet, they’re just growing in number?

Parker: They’re growing by leaps and bounds. And the Indian economy, as you know, is on a very rapid, upward-growth spike at the moment. But the divide is getting much wider than it has been in the past, and especially people in the rural areas and also in the urban slums are being left behind by this. You know, prices are going up, food is a lot more expensive. They are not benefitting from the so-called advancements that India is making.

Napoli: That’s reporter Jean Parker in Pune, India.

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