A new shop opening its doors without a spot of publicity is unheard-of in the modern age. But that is the strange position Reliance Fresh finds itself in. The Mukesh Ambani-owned vegetable and fruit chain has quietly opened shop in several cities, including two in Mysore (one on Chamaraja Double Road and the other in Nazarbad), without out a single advertisement, hoarding or banner.
Reason: the farmer backlash in Jharkhand and West Bengal in particular against the company.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the Left Front is mounting a three-pronged strategy to ward off retail giants like Reliance Fresh and Pantaloon. The government is amending the essential commodities act to allow the State to intervene in the retail market; local councils will be asked to deny licences to retail units; and those that have given permission will be asked to withdraw them.
Is the Left right or wrong? Is there a valid case to keep big retail out of small business in the interests of farmers? Should the government which has bigger fish to fry be in the business of selling fruits and vegetables? Have non-Left governments been too accommodating and the media too unquestioning? Or, in a free country, should anybody be allowed to sell anything?
Related link: Kerala builds three-tier retail wall