Loading...
See More

Strikes against retail reform rock India

Sep 20 2012 10:00 AFP

Related Articles

Backlash after India hikes fuel prices

India sours for foreign investors

India approves FDI in supermarkets

India 'suspends' retail reform

Preparing for Walmart

Thousands stage anti-graft rally in Delhi

 

New Delhi - Shopkeepers, traders and labourers in India blocked railway lines and closed markets on Thursday to protest against reforms allowing in foreign retail giants such as Walmart and Tesco.

Opposition parties and trade unions called the strike after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week announced a raft of reforms designed to revive India's slowing economy, a move that has sparked a furious backlash.

Thousands of policemen were deployed in Kolkata in West Bengal state to prevent violence as shops, markets and offices shut down for the 24-hour strike.

"Train services have come to a halt across West Bengal as strikers squatted on railway tracks," Samir Goswami, regional public relations officer, said by phone.

Protesters demonstrated throughout Kolkata in support of the strike, with large rallies planned later in the day in New Delhi and many other cities.

Police said that protesters also blocked some national highways.

Activists from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies gathered at railway stations across Bihar state in north India and forcibly stopped train services, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

"Protesters have tried to target trains and bus stations and (we expect) they will also target shops and business establishments," Ravinder Kumar, a senior police officer in Patna, the capital of Bihar, said.

All private schools in the state were closed because of the strike, but government schools and offices remained open.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) forecast that 50 million people would participate in the protest against retail reforms unveiled by Singh.

Many small business owners and workers fear that the arrival of large-scale foreign supermarket chains will lead to drastic job losses as India's supply chains and shopping habits are transformed.

Singh has been buffeted by reaction to the reform package and a sharp rise in diesel prices, with a key West Bengal-based coalition party quitting the government and demanding the policies are reversed.

The arrival in India of chains such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour is expected to herald a consumer revolution with shoppers moving from small, neighbourhood stores to large, out-of-town supermarkets.

The government and many industry leaders argue that a modern retail system would improve value and choice for Indian consumers, create new jobs and enable farmers to reduce wastage.

But Singh, weakened by the worst quarterly GDP figures in three years and a series of corruption scandals, faces a major challenge to push through the reforms and boost the economy before elections due in 2014.

Truck and bus drivers are also expected to strike on Thursday over a 12% hike in subsidised diesel prices as the government tries to tackle its widening fiscal deficit.

Mumbai, the country's financial capital, was largely unaffected by the strike as local political parties declined to support the action.


*Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

india
NEXT ON FIN24X

Doubt over EU jobs summit

2014-09-17 20:30

 
 
 

Read Fin24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Company Snapshot

We're talking about:

Small Business

New forms of digital technology are changing the very ways in which entrepreneurs run their businesses.
 
 

17 photo illusions that look so real

What if they aren’t illusions? What if that dog really has a human foot – then what?

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!
New GIF keyboard on iOS for added fun!
Puppy goes crazy over iPad game

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...
Loading...