OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

The Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury lead Communist Part of India (Mafioso) of the Nandigram infamy, CPI-M, recently submitted a memorandum to the Manmohan Singh lead UPA government on regulating the Retail Sector. Specifically the memo contained proposals for what the CPI-referred to as “serious regulations” and “immediate initiatives” to frame a national policy on regulating Retail Trade.

As part of its broad War on Social Justice, Offstumped dissects the CPI-M Doublethink on Regulating Retail to expose its perverse value system and pandering to special interest groups.

The CPI-M Doublethink begins with a sweeping allegation that

developments in the retail sector are having an adverse impact on the livelihoods of a large section of people who are engaged in unorganized retail across the country

In the Orwellian World of CPI-M Doublethink, a lie repeated often enough not just becomes the truth but almost becomes incontrovertible. So there you have with no substantiation the allegation that livelihoods of large section of people being adversely impacted. Now in the absence of hard facts, let us examine if this claim by the CPI-M stands to reason. So whose livelihood is the CPI-M concerned about here ? Is it the small businessman or those employed by the small businessman. By no stretch of the imagination do the small businessmen constitute a large section of the society, at least that segment of small business which faces a threat if any from Organized Retail. So the CPI-M is probably referring to those employed by small businessmen. For an ideology and a political movement that lobbies for a social security net and organized labor it is hard to understand the Left’s logic here. What is more adverse – being employed in a small business which is unorganized with no security net or bargaining power OR being employed in a large business with its attendant economic security and the collective bargaining power from organized labor.  If the CPI-M is worried about the skills deficit again its concerns defy logic. What is more adverse – being condemned to an unskilled future in the un-organized sector or having the opportunity to get skilled and move up in the organized sector ?

Clearly in the CPI-M’s Orwellian World, the Proles are better off condemned to a future bereft of upward mobility.

So what does the CPI-M want to preserve status quo for the Proles

a proposal to adopt stringent regulations on the organized sector in retail trade

Notice the emphasis on “stringent”. Essentially the CPI-M is clamoring for an Orwellian Ministry of the Plenty to ration Consumption and control Consumer Choice.

Well let us dig deeper into the Doublethink to better appreciate what these “stringent” measures are.

a system of licensing should be introduced for organized retail from local authorities (city corporations or municipalities).

Sounds rather innocuous, well hold your breath until you read what comes next.

A dedicated committee/board/department should be set up by the urban local bodies, with representation from street vendors and small retailer associations, which should be empowered to grant licenses to organized retailers

The CPI-M wants to pack a committee with illiterate and fairly nomadic Street Vendors and Small Retailers who barely get by to shut shop and attend hearings on which organized retailers should or should not be allowed to set shop in a given neighborhood. The impractical and ludicrous nature of the proposal notwithstanding, one must pause a moment and fathom the implication. If you live in a middle class neighborhood and are desirous of having a Bharti or a Reliance set shop so you have better consumer choice and value for money in your daily grocery purchases, you no longer have the right to make that choice. Instead it is the street hawker who does not live in your neighborhood who will sit in judgement and make that choice for you. 

Well that’s the Orwellian world of the CPI-M for you, where freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

What next ?

Licenses should be given on the basis of a population criterion

So the number of retail outlets in a given will be centrally determined by the government and not by local factors of demand and supply. The CPI-M not only wants more bureaucracy and power concentrated centrally while being unmindful of the corruption that will likely bring in but the CPI-M also wants to completely ignore the fact that an upmarket Banjara Hills in Hyderabad or Koramangala in Bangalore may have more latent demand by virtue of greater spending power. Instead the CPI-M’s proposal will artificially choke supply in those areas thus creating a monopolistic advantage for the chosen few.

The CPI-M persists further with its control mania with suggestions like

prevent the emergence of private monopolies in Retail Trade. A single large format retailer should not be allowed to capture a large market share. For this it is important to restrict the number of retail outlets that a single private entity can open in a city, state as well as region.

But that’s not all, the CPI-M subtly has injected its Party Agenda in Kerala into the mix here by calling for

Government to ensure its presence in the market.

So if the CPI-M were to have its way, the Ministry of Plenty in partnership with the Outer Party will determine what food you get to eat and what clothes you get to wear. The profits from which will of course will keep the Inner Party in power for the next century.

The CPI-M’s proposal on Retail delves in to fairly great length liberally quoting statistics from a KPMG Survey and NSSO Surveys and twisting them to fit its agenda.

Now here is the rub, pay close attention to this.

At the heart of the CPI-M’s concern are

around 20 million urban workers and 12 million rural workers whose alleged displacement the CPI-M is worried about will cause large unemployment.

If the employment of these 32 million workers is the CPI-M’s core concern as opposed to the Freedom and Choice of the rest of the billion odd Indians, the lop-sidedness of the concern apart, if the CPI-M’s heart truly bled for these workers it is logical to assume that the bulk of the CPI-M’s proposals would proactively and directly target means to secure their livelihood and better equip them for the future. The CPI-M disposes of that expectation with lip service encompassing in all of 4 sentences in the first paragraph. Instead what you have here is a voluminous Framework with a Complex Licensing Regime at its heart to herald a new bureaucracy and more corruption while the 32 million workers are practically forgotten.

While the CPI-M’s proposals are yet to receive any reaction from the Congress and the BJP, the decibel level from the Left can be expected to rise as a lame duck Manmohan Singh regime hobbles to complete its term.

Offstumped Bottomline: The CPI-M proposals for regulating organized Retail in India would mean concentrating more power in the Inner Party through a complex licensing regime for private entrants to Retail while keeping the Outer Party gainfully employed through government operated Retail Outlets, and condemning the 32 million Proles to look forward to an unskilled and insecure future in the un-organized sector while being dependent on the Inner Party for dole in the name of Poverty Alleviation.

P.S.: Offstumped through its War on Social Justice will continue to expose the CPI-Mafioso and its misdeeds in Nandigram. For this War to be decisively won it is important to understand the Orwellian construct on which the CPI-Mafioso operates. Offstumped calls upon its readers to digest George Orwell’s 1984 to see how this construct manifests itself in policy prescriptions by  the CPI-Mafioso.

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