by Max Brantley
Interesting story in Christian Science Monitor about President Obama's trip to India and Walmart's interest in breaking into the enormous market, plus the fear of many Indians about the negative effect Walmart could have on the country.
Within India, meanwhile, a mass movement has so far thwarted foreign access to the country’s retail sector. Companies like Harley-Davidson and Hewlett-Packard can open stores here, but multibrand foreign retailers like Wal-Mart or Ikea are forbidden.
“When Wal-Mart comes in, if the same growth rate which they achieved in the US is successful in India you would see a [negative] impact on more than 20 million people,” says Vinod Shetty, head of FDI Watch, a campaign to keep multibrand retailers out of India.
Many of these small-time shopkeepers are the ones who saved their money to send the young generation of Indians to college. “The success story of India is financed by these very people,” says Mr. Shetty.
India has some 12 million shops and has the highest retail density in the world. Most are small shops, crammed floor to ceiling with goods; supermarkets largely do not exist. Retail is the second-largest employer in India, after agriculture.