Modi on Open-up Over Drive

26 May 2015
THE BJP is fast acquiring a reputation for shameless U-turns. A consolidated FDI policy document released on May 12 has revealed that the BJP-led central government has retained the previous UPA regime's decision to allow foreign retailers to open multi-brand stores with 51 per cent ownership. Multi-brand retail was opened up for foreign direct investment, with a 51 per cent cap, in September 2012, when the Congress-led UPA govt. was in power. The BJP had opposed the move in its manifesto for last year's general elections, pretending that its heart bled for the lakhs of small shopkeepers and their staff across the country who would be directly impacted by the UPA's decision. Rollback of FDI in multi-brand retail would be the top priority of NDA coalition if voted to power, BJP leaders had pledged repeatedly in the run-up to the 16th Lok Sabha elections. But after coming to power, the BJP has made no key change in policy.

The new 119-page annual FDI document details all existing policy decisions and also the changes made over the past one year by the Modi govt, including the raise in FDI cap in defence and insurance. From 26%, the limit has been hiked to 49%, much to the joy of foreign corporates whose money played a key role in catapulting Modi to power last year.

In fact, Amitabh Kant, Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), which is also the nodal agency on FDI policy, has declared, "In the last eight to nine months, we have opened up every single aspect of India's economy. We have opened up our defence sector, construction, insurance, medical devices... and other than multi-brand retail, India today is the most open economy in the world." 'Open economy', needless to say, is a euphemism for 'foreign corporate-appeasing economy. 
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