The jaadu of Mayawati in the North, the kithaata of the Karunanidhi family with the Maran family in the South, and the hyperactivity of Narendra Modi‘s moral police in Baroda’s art schools in the West, as usual, pushed a vital piece of news from the East to the margins. Namely, the vandalism of vegetable vendors at four newly opened Reliance Fresh outlets in Jharkhand’s capital, Ranchi.
The mention of Wal-Mart gets the Left, the media, and some vested business interests all hot under the collar. What will happen to the neighbourhood kirana stores and angadis when these transnationals set up shop, they ask? It is a valid question, but an equally valid question, as demonstrated by last week’s incidents, is what happens to the sabzi and tarkari wallahs at the hands of our own giants?
Questions: Should big businesses like Reliance be in the business of selling vegetables and fruits? Will they drive out millions of hawkers, vendors and sellers? Has the Centre openly pushed these voiceless self-employed into the hands of doom? Or, because we get our fruits and veggies in well-lit, well-displayed, branded boxes, and because they are tom-tommed to be cheap and fresh, is the customer, king?