After farming, retailing is India’s major occupation. It employs 40 million people. A sizeable majority of owner/employees are in the business because of lack of other opportunities.
The decade of liberalisation has so far been one of jobless growth. It is no wonder that retail has become the refuge of these millions. Lopsided economic development is transforming India from an agrarian economy directly to a service oriented post-industrial society.
The Indian retail industry is highly fragmented. According to AC Nielsen and KSA Technopak, India has the highest shop density in the world. In 2001, it was estimated that there were 11 outlets for every 1000 people. Since the agriculture sector is over-crowded and the manufacturing sector stagnant, millions of young Indians are virtually forced into the service sector.
The presence of more than one retailer for every hundred persons is indicative of how many people are being forced into this form of self employment, despite limitations of capital and space.
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The Government of India finally acceded to the overwhelming public opinion in India. The Environment Ministry announced its decision to impose a moratorium on the release of the transgenic brinjal hybrid developed by Mahyco, a subsidiary of global seed giant Monsanto. The central government was under pressure with 13 state governments making it clear their opposition to the commercial use of Bt Brinjal.
According to the Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, the moratorium will last “till such time independent scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and environment, including the rich genetic wealth existing in brinjal in our country.”
Environmental activist and a leading voice on food safety, Dr Vandana Shiva tweeted: GMO free movement wins a victory with Moratorium on BT Brinjal. This is a step towards food democracy.
As India wakes up in the morning and reads the news in leading newspapers, most media have conveniently ignored to publish the highlights of the minister’s report – available at the ministry website. Continue reading 'India says NO to Bt Brinjal'»
According to a report in India Today, “Former managing director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, is the latest to join the critics of Bt brinjal, perhaps the first industry insider to do so.”
Jagadisan, who worked with Monsanto for nearly two decades, including eight years as the managing director of India operations, spoke against the new variety during the public consultation held in Bangalore on Saturday.
On Monday, he elaborated by saying the company “used to fake scientific data” submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India.
The former Monsanto boss said government regulatory agencies with which the company used to deal with in the 1980s simply depended on data supplied by the company while giving approvals to herbicides.
“The Central Insecticide Board was supposed to give these approvals based on the location and crop-specific data from India. But it simply accepted foreign data supplied by Monsanto. They did not even have a test tube to validate the data and, at times, the data itself was faked,” Jagadisan said.
“I retired from the company as I felt the management of Monsanto, USA, was exploiting our country,” Jagadisan, 84, said from his home in Bangalore.
Reviewing Dambisa Moyo’s book “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa”, Sonia Shah writes: “Readers may not be so inclined, these days, to listen to well-coiffed economists spouting bold plans and promises. But for those who care to truly get development right, Moyo is, I think, one investment banker to whom we should pay heed.”
Local communities, propped up with aid-fueled schools and clinics, are no longer required to build mutual trust to create social institutions. Small businesses selling socially useful commodities–food, clothing, mosquito nets–are cruelly shuttered out of business by avalanches of well-intentioned donations. The effect is anti-democratic, destabilizing, soul-crushingly “malignant,” Moyo writes, and “exceptionally corrosive” to government accountability, civil society and the prospects for economic development.
Introduced more than a decade ago, genetically modified crops are now planted on millions of acres throughout the world. But the fundamental questions about them remain — both about their safety and their long-term impact on global food security and the environment. Verlyn Klinkenborg, a member of the editorial board at the New York Times writes.
Above all, genetically modified crops give the illusion of revolutionizing farming without actually changing much of anything. Farmers who plant them do spend less time — and less fuel — in the field, which is a good thing. But trying to pack a revolution into a seed won’t do when the entire system needs revolutionizing. Industrial agriculture is antithetical to diversity of every kind — biological, social, cultural, political. To understand its real effects on diversity you have only to look at Brazilian soybeans, a commodity crop, growing where there was once Amazonian forest.