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FDI: Middlemen against middle class

On the issue of FDI in retail, the opposition parties are pitting the middlemen against the middle class consumers. Their argument is that FDI in retail would increase unemployment. They express apprehension of next-door ‘bania’ shops being wiped off.

The argument is untenable as studies show. Import duties, shipping costs, etc make imports uneconomical except for small supermarket goods like toys, to be specific. Even without FDI in retail being in place, the Indian shopkeepers are not debarred from importing cheap Chinese items. Yet, the retailers, who believe in profiteering, do not find Chinese goods a better bargain.

The Indian economic success since 1991 has been due to steady reduction of import duty from 300 per cent to 10 per cent leading to cheaper imported goods. It has nowhere forced the shutting down of either industries or the next-door ‘bania’ shop.

Tarvinder Singh Chahal in his article “Why India needs FDI in retail” (November 8) has rightly said that India is not the first country to adopt FDI in multi-brand retail. There are also statistic to prove that from 1950 to 1991 the government steadily increased import duty from very low levels to 300 per cent, yet GDP growth remained stunted at 3.5 per cent and protectionist strategy miserably failed.

It is a pity that our farmers get only 20 per cent of their share in a rupee paid by the consumers, the rest is pocketed by the middlemen. The farmers would feel blessed even if they get 40 per cent of the rupee.


Giving their due

Lt-Gen Raj Sujlana in his article “Salute the military role in nation building” (November 12) has very vividly brought out the role of armed forces in nation-building and its defence. The services of the armed forces are availed during internal exigencies or national disasters, but they are not given a chance to become members of a national committee concerning their matters. The result of such ignorance has been highlighted well by him, by giving examples of 1962 war and the wars of 1965 and 1971. In 1948 too, when our troops were about to clear the whole of Kashmir of Pak invaders, a ceasefire was enforced on our troops by the government resulting in a problem which exists till date.

The reputation of the Indian forces within the country and abroad is well brought out by him by giving example of the valour of Capt Gurbachan Singh Salaria who was awarded Param Vir Chakra for his daredevil action in Congo. It gave immense pride to all of us who live in a colony named in his memory as ‘Salaria Vihar’ in Patiala by the Army Welfare Housing Organisation.

The government must take this opportunity to pay back its soldiers. A small number of retired Majors of pre- 1986 era, whose ratio is dwindling each day, are getting pensions far lesser than those who retired in 2006. Their demand is just a pinch of salt as compared to crores of rupees being usurped by politicians and bureaucrats.

One rank, one pay is delayed on the pretext that civil employees will also demand it. The ex-servicemen will have no grudge if the government also gives the civil employees their due.

Maj GS SEKHON (retd), Patiala

Effect on middle class

Deemed need-based corruption, which is referred to in the Oped article “Corruption: Catch me if you can” (November 6), has a middle class dimension. Upwardly mobile, as these classes are called, have failed to observe ethics in their interface with societal structures and institutions in the context of an economy that is not growing fast enough and has an erratic pace. It is untenable on two counts (1) loyalty to ethics are truly tested on these occasions (2) there is a negative fallout of morally casual behaviour.

The vicious grip of corruption has been very wide across the middle class. It has a peculiarity that has insured the middle class from the most scathing criticism of corrupt practices which they follow. Wide prevalence of corruption has neutralised or atleast greatly diluted the sense of guilt, shame or embarrassment they might have initially suffered from and now casually carry on with their lives.

Practices prevalent among the middle class however have a stunning effect on the economically lower classes which see little virtue in affiliating to most development matrices and thereupon retire to their respective ghettos, where they tragically wither away.

AKHILESH, Hoshiarpur

Harmonising with nature

Though having a ‘furious rhythm of life’, Americans have developed a unique cultural and environmental ethos. They have made it a sort of a national religion to preserve their rivers, forests, lakes and state and national parks. The majesty of river Charles adds to the grandeur of Harvard as an academic campus ‘beyond excellence’. It is only an enlightened society that can create spiritual environmental ambience between man and nature (Maj-Gen GG Dwivedi‘s middle "Beyond excellence”, November 6).

On the other hand, peculiarities of Indian culture, religious practices and environmental degradation have reduced our rivers into stinking gutters, like the Budha Nullah of Ludhiana, beyond redemption. We need a strategy to rescue our rivers and environment. The sooner, the better.

Commandant DS RAI (retd), Ludhiana



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