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Traders across India to strike Thursday

New Delhi,Business/Economy,Politics, Wed, 19 Sep 2012 IANS

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) One of the biggest grouping of Indian traders Wednesday called for a nationwide strike Thursday to protest the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail trade.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) called for a "Bharat Trade Bandh" to coincide with an opposition-sponsored all-India strike.

"There will be no commercial activity tomorrow (Thursday) across the country," CAIT said here.

The day will be marked by demonstrations and street protests. More than 25,000 trade associations will observe a shutdown, CAIT said.

In New Delhi, a CAIT protest at Jantar Mantar will be attended by opposition leaders Sharad Yadav, Murli Manohar Joshi, Prakash Karat and A.B. Bardhan.

CAIT national secretary general Praveen Khandelwal countered the claim of the government that it was for the states to allow FDI in retail or not.

"This statement is totally baseless," he said.

According to him, under the bilateral investment promotion treaty signed by the Indian government, foreign investors have to be given "national treatment" -- which means that a state cannot discriminate between Indian and foreign investors.

In an obvious reference to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Khandelwal said it was ironical that economists educated in foreign countries were preparing India's economic policies.

"They do not have any idea about the ground reality of Indian retail trade and they are purely dependent upon the surveys and reports prepared by foreign agencies," he said.

"Such a situation has resulted in the present dilapidated condition of the Indian economy.

"On the other hand, the government did not think it proper to even consider the unanimous report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (on FDI)."

He alleged that multinationals will not create any new market but displace the small shopkeepers.

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