“Do you want a wall around India?
There is no question of going back on FDI in multi-brand retail, Union Commerce and Industries minister Anand Sharma says on Teekhi Baat on IBN7.
Till now, economic reforms were in cold storage. Suddenly, there is a rush of energy. Earlier you launched the manufacturing policy, now this. Didn’t you worry that that the government could fall?
The people, especially the young, have expectations from the government. We created the national manufacturing policy keeping the future in mind. India will be transformed in the coming decades; 20 crore youth will join the work force before 2025 and fresh employment opportunities will come from manufacturing.
Why didn’t you do this a year ago?
There was opposition to the manufacturing policy too. When VAT was implemented in the country, it started from one state. Then three more states came on board and later more got added. Here too, we have left the implementation of the FDI decision to the states. In any case, which decision in India, or for that matter in the world, gets taken with all in agreement with it?
If that’s the principle, why don’t you give states a deciding authority in forest policy and environment too?
The states already have a right, as per Schedule B and C.
But no new unit can be set up in any state till the Central ministry gives it forest clearance?
It is dependent on size, but the recommendation is of the state.
There is already 100 per cent FDI in cold storage?
Yes. But if you don’t open the front end, why will anybody come? They will not set up shop till they get a share in the front end.
So you will not reverse your policy?
The question doesn’t arise. The decision has been taken and it is a final decision.
Good economics is bad politics many times.
The government should understand the need and expectations of the country. Today, you are the world number two in the production of pulses, fruits and vegetables. But the farmer does not get the price of his efforts, 35-40 per cent of fruits and vegetables perish before reaching the mandi, bazaar or kitchen. The farmer gets Rs 3 for a vegetable, you buy it in Delhi for Rs 25. Tell me, don’t you want foreign exchange, don’t you want foreign investment? Will India build a wall on all sides and say we will not allow any outsider in?
So you are confident?
Regarding the dying of small shops and kirana due to FDI, I’d like to say it’s false propaganda. We have kept provisions from the wholesale and cash and carry point. The global retailers will not open in the gullies where there are mom-and-pop stores. But they will sell to the small shop-owner. So he will benefit too.
But how will this affect your political image? Can good policies co-exist with politics?
If anybody does politics by ruining the country’s economy, then it would be really unfortunate. We do politics in the interest of the nation.