FDI, okay! Let us assume that the big corporations rush in and cash in on the opportunity. And let us also assume that they make a big splash and expand in all directions, set up shop at every noticeable intersection in the country and drive a few mom-pop stores into the ground in the process. There’s no way mom-pop stores will go extinct. There are so many of them and so many of them are in such areas that no profit seeking enterprise would dare enter. (Note to government: These type of areas shouldn’t be existing in the first place)
The Indian retail market estimated to be worth $400bn employs around 40 million people apparently. Walmart, on the other hand, worth $420bn, is said to employ only 2.1 million people. So let’s not kid ourselves. The number of jobs created thanks to the FDI will never be able to compensate the no. of “jobs” it will destroy. There’s a reason why I put jobs in quotes. For, are those people who stand to lose their jobs really being employed gainfully? It’s another matter that whole families depend for their livelihood on such sub-par jobs but can the economy and the country be said to be working at maximum capacity if large amounts of our workforce are employed just for the sake of employment? Wouldn’t we, as a nation, be better off if people were relocated to more gainful vocations? Not only would they be creating something of more value, but their standards of living would also go up. When I say this, i speak for the future generations of the mom-pop stores. We don’t want the inefficiency of a mom-pop to go on to the daughter-son, do we? Getting rid of disguised unemployment can be only good.
But to make this transition, the labor force, who are used to slack productivity, would need to be imparted with better skills so that they can get a better employment elsewhere. This would call for massive investments on the part of the government. Maybe the Corporations can lend a hand as well, for after all it is them who put them out of their “jobs”. Build schools, colleges, train teachers, hire teachers, employ parents in the construction industry so that their children can then go to those very schools, do whatever it takes to keep churning out individuals who meet the requirements of the market. We need to restructure our labor force, we can’t afford to have unskilled labor and then fight development measures saying the unskilled labor would lose their means to livelihood.
You need minerals, but there’s a tribal group on that land who won’t move because they believe their ancient spirits inhabit the trees of that area? It’s time someone told them that Santa isn’t real. We can’t afford to respect their individual “culture” at the cost of development. If we want to be at our optimum, we should all respect the same values- and that is work, work and work. We’re born to work, we acquire skills so that we can do more productive work.
You need to build a dam but the fisher-folk are worried? Take away their children, equip them with skills, pack them off to cities. There won’t be a future generation of fisher-folk to protest. Sure, integrating everyone into the mainstream would be a challenge and leaving them marginalised and deprived would be easy, but the government can’t absolve itself of this duty. All that is being suggested here is that the fruits of modernity should reach every individual. The current conflicts and inequalities arise only because of the different levels to which the people have access to modernity.
But what if everyone is well-equipped and there are not enough jobs? Invest in technology, you got the manpower to push technical boundaries, colonise a planet, spread the human race. That shouldn’t be a problem. The rate of growth of populations will automatically come down once everyone is gainfully employed and you can see how development is really the only answer to all our worries.
Bottomline is government needs to pursue development of human capital as vigorously as the private sector pursues profit. If the government can’t do its bit, it will have no option but to hinder the progress of the private enterprise, and that is what is happening right now.
ps: Romney and his party would never say anything of this sort.