Dr Jay Dubashi
Manmohan Singh & Co. is selling the country bit by bit. They seem to be in a tearing hurry to dispose of as much of the country as possible before they are thrown out, as they certainly will be very soon. In the meantime, they are making as much money for themselves as they can by selling the country and offering high-sounding explanations and excuses that fool nobody.
They have already sold much of the country’s financial assets. Almost all the banks, including, I am told, the great State Bank of India, now belong to foreigners. This is because foreigners, under one garb or another, have brought huge chunks of their equity, and can take over the bank any day.
This is also true of a large number of other companies or groups, perhaps including Tatas, Mahindras and others. The Tata group is supposed to be owned by the Tata family, which may be true to a certain extent, but it has also taken huge loans from foreigners, just as the Mallyas of Kingfisher have done. We all think of Kingfisher Airlines as a Mallya company, but poor Mallya doesn’t own it anymore; the banks which advanced money to him do. It has a debt of over Rs 8,000 crore, and not a paisa in the till. The poor fellow is broke and borrows money with one hand to pay his creditors with another. He still has his yacht and posh apartments in London and elsewhere, but it is only a matter of weeks, it not days, before the poor chap will have to mortgage them or get rid of them once and for all.
Almost all motor car companies operating in India are foreign-owned and foreign-run, including Maruti-Suzuki. This is true of a large number of Indian companies which have borrowed heavily, mainly from foreign banks and finance companies, and are knee-deep in debt. Why are Indian companies borrowing from foreigners? Because interest rates outside India are dirt-cheap. Often no more than 2 or 3 per cent, or less than one per cent a year, as in Japan. And foreign banks are only too ready to advance you capital, because they have no customers at home, as the economics there have dried up, and no sensible company wants to borrow.
Come to think of it, even the once-great Indian National Congress is now owned and run by a foreigner, with Indians like Manmohan Singh singing bhajans every day, outside the doors of the foreign owner.
And now comes the so-called FDI Foreign Direct Investment, in retail, which has now been opened to foreigners, with the foreign-owned and foreign-run Indian National Congress and its tub-thumpers beating their drums on the streets. Can you imagine what this means? It means that we are selling all our markets to them, just as we sold our markets to East India Company 300 years ago. All our produce, every thing we grow from wheat and rice to tomatos and onions, and everything we make from furniture and beer to steel and motor-cycles, will be at the mercy of these so-called retail giants, and they will decide not only what we buy and sell, but also at what price and where. Our farmers will be totally at their mercy, and so will large and small manufacturers, people who make sugar and run dairies, not to speak of transport contractors who bring these goods of customers. The same will be the case in regard to insurance, which has also been opened to foreigners.
History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, and then as a farce. In India, history repeats itself always as a tragedy. Do we really need foreigners to sell our bananas and mangoes, cabbages and cauliflowers? Do we need foreigners to sell our bed sheets and towels, shirts and blouses, shoes and chappals, sarees and dhotis? We have been making these things and buying and selling them for centuries; now the foreigners will sell them for us.
The villager who makes hand-made shoes will have to go to Walmart to sell them, and he will be forced to buy his milk and ghee and coffee and tea from these foreign blood-suckers. Why? Because Manmohan Singh & Co. have decided that because Walmart have offices wordwide, and they are experts in buying and selling, they should do the marketing, and they are so efficient that they will not only improve the quality of goods they handle but also reduce prices for the consumer.
Initially, prices do go down and the consumer is happy. But remember that the consumer is also a producer, and low prices for the consumer means low prices for the producer. This is why, wherever large super-markets operate, as in the West, you have large unemployment, because local traders are forced to shut down, and because you can always get things cheaper elsewhere, your own industry cannot cope and goes broke. This has happened everywhere, particularly in Europe, which is now going through a big crisis.
I was in the Industry Ministry at the time and the Coca-Cola and Pepsi used to tell me day in and day out, that they would bring down prices.
I knew they were lying, because multinational companies always tell lies. Their entire business model depends on that. Just watch the advertisements on TV by foreign companies making cosmetics and similar useless stuff. Their tooth paste kills 99.9 per cent of the germs, which they say they have managed to increase to 99.99 per cent by using some juice which they found only in some forests! Can you really believe this stuff? Who counted the germs and worked out the percentages? Which prime forest are they referring to? Even a child knows they are lies, but we seem to believe because they are foreign companies, what they say in their ads must be the truth!
Let me now go back to Pepsi and Coca-Cola. I never buy their stuff, and certainly not their snacks. Last time I counted the chips in a bloated paper-bag, there are just 23 chips, and the bag cost ten rupees. I can go to my local grocer, a friendly old man, and buy chips made by his nephew or aunt. You can get half a kilo of chips for 50 rupees, and they are much fresher and tastier than foreign-made stuff. Why did we invite Pepsi and Coca-Cola to make chips here? Who invited them? I am sure it was the Congress government, the same government, probably the same officers who are now telling us that Walmart will work wonders here, provide jobs by the million, and create what they call supply – chains, and bring about a paradise in this land!
Why then did Walmart fail to create a paradise in Germany where it had over 50 super-markets and where it was forced to beat a retreat and fold up its shops and return home with its tail between its legs? The Germans refused to patronise Walmart, forcing it to close down. The same thing happened in several other countries. What is the use of selling things cheep, if the things you sell are of poor quality – as Walmart tends to do – and are in any case no better than things you can already buy next door instead of driving miles to reach Walmart stores? What happened to Walmart in Germany can and will almost certainly happen here, no matter what bogus arguments are trotted out by Manmohan Singh & Co. and its apologists, and how many lies are broadcast by our channels, which depend for their survival on advertisements from multinationals. Just wait and watch.