South Asia Monitor: India at 60: Retail and the Indian Economy - July 5, 2007
July 5, 2007
This first article in the "India at 60" series looks at the $330-billion Indian retail sector, once firmly a part of the traditional small-scale economy. Today, organized retail operations, chain stores, and international investment are starting to move in, leading at least part of the retail sector to dramatically increase its scale of operations and integrate itself more closely into the international economy. This move will produce significant gains for the economy, potentially reducing farm-to-market losses of agricultural products, encouraging infrastructure improvement, and driving the training of the middle segments of the labor force. It will also produce losers, notably those of India's 50- plus million small shopkeepers and hawkers who will be displaced by the modernized retail sector. More fundamentally, the growth of the retail sector will create new dynamics and relationships in the Indian economy and between the Indian and global economies. The potential for growth and advancement, in this as in many other areas of Indian life, makes this an exciting time in India, but sharing the benefits with those who stand to lose will make this a challenging process to manage, both economically and politically.