Arshid Malik
Arshid Malik

India is almost a superpower and quite a threat to other superpowers”, is a sentence which bears no false claims. India has, over the decades, turned quite powerful with a booming economy which is attracting foreign investors in bulk. India’s military might is gigantic and this might has been earned over decades with large scale investments in artillery. This artillery, which perhaps the Indian Constitution guarantees, is meant for the security of its citizen’s from foreign invasions and stuff. Well, the threat is always looming large since establishments like the United Nations which were meant to protect countries and its peoples from such invasions have turned a sordid leaf by letting the United States of America run down any country that it declares a “rogue state” or a country “abetting terrorism”, for instance, Iraq where the role of the UN was discreetly ambiguous. People are getting killed under the curtain of “fighting terrorism”, “war on terror” and other such “demurs”. With countless innocent people murdered this year, only India has to strengthen its guard. For what better purpose does the defence infrastructure serve than protecting the people of its country? All said and done but how much credibility do the mentioned sentences about India carry, one ought to wonder, since millions of people in the country are reeling under extreme conditions of poverty, distress and unavailability of clean, hygienic conditions of existence. And yes, they are in bad need of some peace too!

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India is a country which is democratic, yet it is following the power models of countries which claim to be democratic while they are in all actuality capitalist states. The people of India have diverse cultural and social traits and it is really hard to run such a country which is the abode of scores of languages, dialects, customs and traditions; even our eating and dressing habits vary every 300 to 400 kilometres. Imposing monocular schematics on such a population is quite improper and almost always begets negative yields. The Indian administration, under whichever banner it exists, should open both eyes rather than focusing only one eye on the already “plush safe stores” of power and money. Further, until and unless the country’s establishment ceases to concentrate (budgets and all) on defence, which in all probability sounds very off-mark since the issue is that of protecting the population and while the population is “dying” every day who would think of killing them, there will be chaos. Logic, my dear friends, is a very helpful tool to deal with ambiguous statecraft. India is powerful, in other words is logically supposed to mean India is militarily strong but as a democratic country with flamboyant cultural mosaics, its people should be the vessels for power which is just not the case.

India has, over the years, been implanting policies which are close copycats of the West. This time over, it is the Foreign Direct Investment in Multi-brand Retail Sector up to 51 percent. Seemingly, India has done a good job but what actually does it means for the common, middle class people? Are they getting benefitted or plundered? Well, it obviously means that we will have more and more multiplexes and malls brandishing super brands like “Wal-Mart”. Do we need multiplexes and malls with super glossy finished interiors, escalators, glass elevators, lots and lots of lights and an almost never-ceasing line of products, right from potatoes to private jets. What will happen is that foreign brands will come to India and open up shopping facilities here and we are told that they will be procuring right from the farms and manufacturing facilities. That way, we might have to pay less for whatever we are buying. The first take on this super story is that once the multiplexes and malls are here, there will be no role for the existing local grocery shops and locally run retail facilities since the “brilliance” of the malls will draw crowds and the locals would have to close shops. And yes, you just can’t say no to that huge hoarding which reads in big bold letters “70 percent discount” and in smaller, less prominent letters, “on selected items” – you never come to know what the selected items are and power spending comes into play. Now these traditional markets that we have everywhere in India offered everything we need, besides providing jobs to millions of people. The malls will hire the eloquent and imported ones; so what happens to those who are now displaced – a huge community of local traders and shopkeepers. The malls breed consumerism and they basically thrive over the same. Once you step into a mall, you have limitless choices and what is it that you do not need. You have the money and they have the material. In the end, your local trader is displaced and you are spending more than you can earn. This is a doubly instable situation where only the rich get richer.

The multi-brand retails will be procuring straight from the farms. That’s good since the farmers, the basic producers, will earn more. How? The multi-brands will obliterate middlemen and case solved. It is not that easy. The multi-brands will replace the existing middlemen with their own fleet of middlemen and we touch base (another self-employed class is now jobless). The multi-brands are here to reap greater profits, which they need to maintain the neatness of the malls, parking lots and eateries and keep up their high tastes. So the poor farmer will stay put. And what do we get? We get a theory that is called “personalized fleecing”. The multi-brands have a take over us consumers. They have mapped our attitudes and behaviours. After all they have some of the brilliant minds working it up in those hi tech plush offices. Some products will be sold cheaper and others much expensive and believe me you won’t notice the difference. It is a superstructure of strategies that is woven around the basic constructs of the shopper.

This recent flagging off by the ruling political elite is a small start and there is much on the cards and all of it is not helping us at all. If India is a democratic country then it has a job to attend to, that of protecting its citizens from the onslaught of no, not ammo, but from its own “ape-the-West polices which are crushing the people. And yes, people can see and that too with both eyes – the LPG cap and the FDI.

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