Kolkata: FDI in multi-brand retail has been the most contentious of UPA-II's big ticket economic reforms. But the question is what do the stakeholders on the ground think about it. CNN-IBN finds out what Kolkata feels about FDI in multi-brand retail.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pulled out of the government, she walked the streets, she got tinsel town singing as well for her opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail. At Kolkata's largest wholesale market, Posta Bazar, traders seem to share Mamata's fears. Trader Sita Nath Ghosh says, "They will monopolise the market, take our jobs and our bread and butter."
The Bengal government has said no to FDI in multi-brand retail in the state, but is that a missed opportunity for a state which has already seen a boom in the number of domestic retails giants setting up shops here and the farmers who have experienced professional practices of multi-national food giants?
Rabindranath Roy Chowdhary is one of the 10,000 farmers from whom Pepsico procures potatoes in Bengal. High-yield seeds along with technical and financial support are the plus points, say these farmers, but the strict contracts have downsides too.
"FDI is good. We will get technology and fertilizers. But instead of fixed price, let prices vary as per the yield every season," Rabindranath says.
Another Pepsi potato producer Mohammed Wajid Mondal says, "I stopped producing for them. There were many demands on type and size of potatoes, I faced losses."
But consumers who have had a taste of big retail chains say Mamata has got it wrong. Right now, a reasoned debate on FDI in retail is hostage to political noise, leaving the man on the street with very few answers.