Foreign Houses in Retail - Business Implications

Dr. K.L. Gupta

After the waves of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation marketing scenario particularly retailing has changed radically. These changes have resulted in emergence of new environment for buyers' behaviour and purchasing habits. The upper and upper middle strata of the society now prefers to purchae well established branded goods from standard showrooms and it has transformed the entire picture and perception not only in the metro cities but almost in all big cities of our country. It is worth mentioning that retailing in India has been hailed as one of the sun-rise sectors in the economy. Till now unorganised retailing sector was dominating retail trade in India by constituting 98% of all retailing trade but now not only traditional Indian retailers but giant Indian retailers like Reliance have entered the area and are planning to expand their activities in this sector in a big way. Even world renowned retailing organisation like Wal-Mart has decided to enter India via joint venture with Bharti.

Why Global Retailers are Interested in India?

More specifically the global players are interested in India due to the following resons:

I)      Strategic Location & Geography:

India enjoys unique geographical advantage. It is strategically located in Asia with access to all leading markets of the World. With total area of 32, 87, 590 sq. km, coastline of 7000 km and borders with six countries India becomes most promising destination for the foreign direct investment.

II) Versatile Demographics :

Demographically with a population of more than 1.1 billion and diverse culture, India is a land of all seasons. India presents a real cosmopolitan population with diverse religions and culture. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam are the main religions of India. This variety of religions provides India with a diverse culture. Besides, India has versatile population of urban and rural nature. This versatility of population makes India a ready made market for foreign retailers.

III)   Vast growing Economy :

On economic front, India the largest democracy of the world, have a stable Govt. with robust programme of economic reforms. India with a foreign exchange reserve of more than US $120 billion, FDI of more than US $9.9 billion, average GDP growth of more than 8% per annum, rupee appreciation Vs U.S dollar of more than 2% in last two years and with a rapidly growing investment in infrastructure has all the ingredients of an emerging economic super power. India is tipped to be third largest economy in terms of GDP by the year 2050. In such a scenario every multinational aims to set up a base in India, not to participate in Indian growth story but to build their own future.

IV) Retailing: The Emerging Revolution:

Retailing is the largest private industry in India and second largest employer after agriculture. The sector contributes to around 10 percent of GDP. With over 12 million retail outlets, India has the highest retail outlets density in the world. This sector witnessed significant development in the past 10 years from small unorganized family owned retail formats to organized retailing. Liberalization of the economy, rise in per capita income and growing consumerism has encouraged large business and venture capitalist in investing in retail infrastructure. The importance of retail sector in India can be judged from following facts (a) Retail sector is the largest contributor to the Indian GDP (b) The retail sector provides 15% employment (c) India has world's largest retail network with 12 million outlets (d) Total market size of retailing in India is $ 180 billion (e) Current share of organized retailing is just 2% which comes around to $3.6 billion. (f) Organized retail sector is growing @ 28% per annum.

V) Indian Retailing: Opportunities Unexplored:

India is sometimes referred to as the nation of shopkeepers. This is because the country has the highest density of retail outlets - over 12 million. However, unlike most developed and developing countries, Indian retail sector is highly fragmented and bulk of the business is in the unorganized sector. India in such a scenario presents following advantages to foreign retailers:

l This is a huge industry with no large players. Some Indian large players have entered just recently like Reliance, Trent etc.

l India can support significant players averaging $1 bn. in grocery and $0.3-0.5 bn. in apparel within next ten years.

l The transition will open multiple opportunities for companies and investors

In addition to the above, improved living standards and continuing economic growth, friendly business environment, growing spending power and increasing number of conscious customers aspiring for quality and branded products in India are also attractive.

Arguments in favour of FDI in retailing

FDI in retailing is favoured on the following grounds:

(1) The global retailers have advanced management, know how inmerchandising and inventory management and have adopted new technologies which can significantly improve productivity and efficiency in retailing. (2) Entry of large low-cost retailers and adoption of integrated supply chain management by them is likely to lower the prices. (3) FDI in retailing can easily assure the quality of product, better shopping experience and customer services. (4) They promote the linkage of local suppliers, farmers and manufacturers, no doubt only those who can meet the quality and safety standards, to global market and this will ensure a reliable and profitable market to these local players. (5) As multinational players are spreading their operation, regional players are also developing their supply chain differentiating their strategies and improving their operations to counter the size of international players. This all will encourage the investment and employment in supply chain management. (6) Joint ventures would ease capital constraints of existing organised retailers and (7) FDI would lead to development of different retail formats and modernisation of the sector.

Arguments against FDI in Retailing

Many trading associations, political parties and industrial associations have argued against FDI in retailing due to following reasons:

(1) Indian retailers have yet to consolidate their position. The existing retailing scenario is characterized by the presence of a large number of fragmented family owned businesses, who would not be able to survive the competition from global players.

(2) The examples of South East Asian countries show that after allowing FDI, the domestic retailers were marginalised and this led to unemployment.

(3) FDI in retailing can upset the import balance, as large international retailers may prefer to source majority of their products globally rather than investing in local products.

(4) Global retailers might resort to predatory pricing. Due to their financial clout, they often sell below cost in the new markets. Once the domestic players are wiped out of the market, the foreign players enjoy a monopoly position which allows them to increase prices and earn profits.

(5) Indian retailers have argued that since lending rates are much higher in India, Indian retailers, especially small retailers, are at a disadvantageous position compared to foreign retailers who have access to International funds at lower interest rates. High cost of borrowing forces the domestic players to charge higher prices for the products.

(6) FDI in retail trade would not attract large inflow of foreign investment since very little investment is required to conduct retail business. Goods are bought on credit and sales are made on cash basis. Hence, the working capital requirement is negligible. On the contrary; after making initial investment on basic infrastructure, the multinational retailers may remit the higher amount of profits earned in India to their own countries.

FDI in Retailing in India: Policy and Entry Routes

In India, till recently, FDI was not allowed in retailing, but the Union cabinet on January 24, 2006 rationalised and simplified the FDI policy and allowed the contentious issue of foreign investment in retail sector by allowing FDI up to 51 percent with prior government approval for retail trade in single brand products. This would imply that foreign companies would be allowed to sell goods sold internationally under a single brand, viz. Reebok, Nokia, Adidas. Retailing of goods of multiple brands, even if such products are produced by the same manufacturer would not be allowed. However, there are indications that the Government may allow foreign investments in retail segments where small domestic players do not operate.

Although before January 24, 2006 FDI was not allowed in retailing, many international players are operating in the country. Some of entry routes employed by them are discussed in details as below:

a)     Manufacturing and Local Sourcing:

Companies that set up manufacturing facilities are allowed to sell the products in the domestic market. Consumer durable companies such as Sony and Samsung have entered the retail sector through this route. Due to high labour cost in their domestic market, many international brands are setting up manufacturing bases in developing countries such as India and China and / or are sourcing products from local manufacturers. For examples, Levi's and Tommy Hilfiger are sourcing products from Indian manufacturers like Arvind Mills.

b)     Franchising:

Franchising is the most preferred mode through which foreign players have entered the Indian market. It is the easiest route to enter the Indian market. Franchising is often used as a mode to expand the market of a particular retail enterprise outside domestic economy since it allows firms to expand without investing their own capital, is based on local expertise and enables firms to curb local opposition and regulations. This is the most common mode for entry of fast food chains across the world. Apart from fast food chains like Pizza Hut, players such as Lacoste, Mango, Nike and Marks and Spencer, have entered the Indian market through this route.

c)     Test Marketing:

Test marketing is another route through which many foreign players have entered the Indian market. Foreign investment Promotion Board (FIPB) allows foreign companies for test marketing of their products for a two-year period by the end of which they are required to set up manufacturing facilities in India. Direct selling companies lke Amway and Oriflame entered the Indian market through this route.

Nokia came to India through the test marketing route in mid-1990s. Initially they got a license for two years to test their products in the Mumbai circle. After three months of their entry they tied up with the service providers to provide integrated services to their customers. After the success of its products in the country, Nokia had opened up an office but had not set up a manufacturing facility and continues to import all products (even models made specifically for India). After another two years they divided the country into four zones and entered into a strategic alliance for distribution with Supreme for East and West India and with HCL for North and Southern zone. Nokia had also applied for the cash and carry license from the FIPB and has recently got the license.

d)     Wholesale Cash-and-Carry Operation:

This is the route through which large international retailers such as Germany's Metro Cash & Carry Gmbh and Shoprite Checkers of South Africa have entered the Indian market. The wholesale cash-and-carry operation is defined as any trading outlets where goods are sold at the wholesale rate for retailers and businesses to buy. The transactions are only for business purposes and not for personal consumption as in the case of retailing.

e)     Distributor:

Companies such as Swarovski and Hugo Boss have set up distribution offices in India and these offices supply the products to local retailers. All products of Hugo Boss are imported and distributed through the company's distributor.

f)      Special Cases:

The Sri Lankan retailers have entered the India market through the initiatives of Export Development Board of Sri Lanka (EDB) which obtained special permission from the RBI to set up retail operations in India. The EDB has leased 17 retail outlets in Spencer Plaza in Chennai in which Sri Lankan retailers are showcasing and selling their products. The Sri Lankan products showcased in these stores are mostly at the higher end of the quality spectrum and can be brought into the country free of duty. This gives an advantage to large Sri Lankan retailers like Hameedia not only to establish a global presence but also to access the large customer base of India at competitive prices. The EDB is also exploring the possibilities of setting up similar trade centres in other cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Although this mode has allowed retailers from Sri Lanka to enter the Indian market without domestic manufacturing and sourcing conditions and some products sold by these traders are similar to those sold by Indian retailers, EDB did not face any opposition from Chambers, retailers and the trading houses.

Although the official policy is that FDI in retailing is allowed only in one brand and that too up to 51% in retailing, but it has not acted as an entry barrier. Foreign players have a substantial presence in the country and have used several alternative unique routes to enter Indian Trading Sector.


It is evident that ever growing urban and rural markets in India represent an unprecedented and vast unexplored opportunity for retailing to all types of formats. Initially there may be certain reservations and apprehensions in allowing global players in India's retailing but if they are allowed in a phased manner on the basis of a well conceived and chalked out policy, they are likely to lead to more investment in organized retailing and allied sectors. As already discussed, it would also lead to inflow of latest technical know how, establishment of well integrated and sophisticated supply chains, availability of standard, latest and quality products, help in up gradation of human skills and increased sourcing from India. Yet the following points may be kept into consideration in this context:

1.   Since the Indian retail sector is highly fragmented and domestic retailers are in the process of consolidating their position, the opening up of FDI regime should be in a phased manner over 5 to 10 years time frame so as to give the domestic retailers enough time to adjust to changes.

2.   FDI should not be allowed for multi brand stores in near future, as Indian retailers will not be able to face competition with these stores immediately.

3.   At present it is also not desirable to increase FDI ceiling to more than 51% even for single premium brand stores. It will help us to ensure check and control on business operations of global retailers and to protect the interests of domestic players. However, the limit of equity participation can be increased in due course of time as we did in telecom, banking and insurance sectors.

4.   Foreign players should not be allowed to trade in certain sensitive products like arms and ammunition, military equipment, etc. and the list of excluded products should be clearly stated in the FDI policy.

5.   Certain zoning restrictions may be imposed by the state government / local bodies for town planning. Generally super markets and hyper markets should not be allowed in the mid of city so as to protect the existence of unorganised or comparatively medium sized retail organizations.

The strategy of opening up should be backed by appropriate reform measures. India can learn from the experiences of other developed and developing countries and develop its own strategies, laws and regulations that would be in the best interest of the country. As of now, there is no proper definition of retailing or retail formats in India. International players are exploiting the situation and are often entering the market and expanding their businesses through multiple routes and are operating in the country with more than one format of retailing. The regulatory regime should address these issues. The entry norms should clearly state the approval requirements, conditions / restrictions if any imposed, etc. The government should also strictly enforce the quality standards for local production and imports. 


[The writer is the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce,

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University AGRA.]

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Pathology of Globalisation

Sham Lal


The West has no patent on the 'one world' idea. In India a Sanskrit poet wrote of the whole world as one family a thousand years ago. What modernity has done is to empty the idea of all ethical meaning. All talk about human brotherhood is apt to be dismissed by the executives of the new global order as sentimental nonsense. The new order is not inspired by the idea of a worldwide community of welfare states or a new urge on the part of the rich to share what they have with their poorer neighbours. but is a product of the frentic expansion of capital markets, increased presence of multinationals in every country, new means of instant communication, worldwide reach of media networks and fast changing patterns of mass consumption and entertainment.

The rate of growth of GNP may be still pretty modest for many poor countries, their fiscal deficits may be unmanageable, millions of their people may be without a job, home or enough to eat and some members of their elite groups may be living in dread of being hauled up for their crooked ways. Even so, the entertainment business flourishes as never before and for millions of middle class families in the third world spending leisure time is not half as taxing now as it used to be. The colonialists may have packed up and gone. But what abermas calls "colonisation of the lifeworld" is going apace in the newly independent countries with a frenzy never seen before. The affluent societies may be niggardly in helping the third world. But when it comes to entertainment, they are generous in providing access to a hundred TV channels.

The globalisation process may not have set most poor societies on the road to fast growth. Yet it has left its impact on the ways of living of their elite groups. The increased presence of multinationals in many poor societies has jacked up the salaries of all business executives, sent house rents and land prices skyrocketing and provided access to as many TV networks as in the West. The political or economic situation may be pretty grim but there is a surfeit of bright images to keep the blues away.

The new world order has in fact no use for those who have nothing to sell or buy. They are its outcasts. This fate is reserved not only for individuals but for entire nations. Those who have little to sell are also in no position to buy anything and whatever they get by way of loans is soon used up in servicing old debts. Many have already got into a debt trap from which there is no easy exit. There has indeed been a net outflow, in recent years, of capital from some of the poorest countries even as their debt repayment obligation to the rich go on increasing. The guardians of the new global order may be short on aid but they are long on do's and don'ts for those outside their charmed circle. Their advice invariably takes the form of cuts in food subsidies and in outlays on education and public health on the pleas of stricter fiscal discipline or of the need to learn from the success stories of the so-called East Asian tigers as if their backgrounds, lucky circumstances and variants of authoritarianism could be reproduced at will anywhere.

- The writer had been the editor of the Times of India

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Youth Suicide and Globalisation

Dr. Agya Ram Sakya

Youth is a powerful segment of each society. During this age they are very energetic, physically and mentally. If their energy is properly utilized, the process of development accelerates, if not, it retrogrades. It is the reason that each nation pays a greater attention to their youth's - needs, education and employment. In contemporary India led by economic reforms, youth is in crisis due to scarcity of jobs, expensive education and growing competition. Only a minority of them gets good jobs and better perks in their life.

A majority of them remains without work though, having sufficient energy and desire to work. Sometimes, some of them adopt non-conforming behaviour and become anti-social such as alcoholics, drug-addicts or even terrorists. Several others choose the noose of death. According to reliable sources, in India where 40 thousand people end their life each year, there is a huge population of juveniles and youths who kill themselves for various reasons. In a report W.H.O. (2004) reveals that there is an alarming increase in suicidal behaviour among young people aged 15-25 year all over the world. There are several reports which inform that the graph of the suicides has been going up high after the implementation of the reforms in our country.

An attempt has been made in this research paper to study the influence of globalization over youth suicides. For this purpose, especially students and educated jobless youths have been the focus of analysis.

Youth Suicide and Globalisation

'Youth' is a relative term which varies from time to time and society to society. It is a certain age group which is usually between 15-30 years. The term 'suicide' is made up of 'sui' and 'cide'. 'Sui' means "self" and 'cide' means 'kiling.' So the 'suicide' is 'self-killing.' The little Oxford Dictionary defines suicide as "intentional self-killing. An eminent sociologist Emile Durkheim assumes that "suicide is the act of a man who prefers death to life". Thus, suicide is a self-murder by a man deliberately and 'youth suicides' are the suicides which have been committed by before-adult age persons.

However, the term 'globalization' is not much old but it came into existence after the fall of Socialistic Soviet Union in the decades of Ninety in the past century. In simple economic terms, according to Dr. K.Aswathppa: "Globalisation refers to the process of the integration of the world into one huge market". In an article Dr. I. Francis Gnana Sekar holds that globalisation means the integration of various nations at the one economic level. In a broader sense, Human Development Report 1999 defines it as "global market, global technology, global ideas and global solidarity enriching lives of the people everywhere." Thus the globalization is one process which integrates various nations into one market economy.

Review of Literature

Generally, the major causes of suicide are poverty, unemployment, unsuccessful love, loss in business, family tensions, chronically long diseases, injury to prestige etc. Biologists see the suicide in the genetic structure of an individual person whereas psychologists explain it in terms of mental disorder. In his book Le Suicide, Prof. Emile Durkheim observes that there is a close relationship between self-killing and economic conditions of the society.

The policies of the government play a very decisive role in the life of the persons who murder themselves deliberately. The post-reform studies show that joblessness, competition, loss in business and agriculture, corruption, pollution, social, injustice and terrorism etc. have influenced youths very badly. Majority of youths are under mental stress. Out of them, some commit suicide when they do not get good grades and suitable jobs.

In this context, a survey made by "School Mental Health Programme in Delhi" under the coordinator ship of Dr. Samir Parikh (2005) reveals that nearly 70 per cent students were under stress and anxiety before board examinations. Six students committed suicide and 300 students were found involved in attempt to suicide. There were two main reasons-parental pressures for better performance and recognition among the peers.

After globalization in our country, employment has emerged as a greater problem among educated youths. In this regard, the eminent economist-Bharat Jhunjhunwala holds that there is a radical contradiction between open market and job creation. Sita Ram Yechure, a senior leftist leader admits strongly that Government's success in information technology is a "Jobless growth" in which income and profits are enhanced but jobs are minimized. National Sample Survey (2003) also points out that job creation has been slowed down under the reform period.

Nobel Laureate Prof. Joseph Stiglitz (2004) criticizes the global policy and apprises that in America joblessness has emerged due to this policy. For him, millions of the jobs are shifted to the developing countries under out-sourcing processes. It is not beneficial for poor but it is beneficial for richer and corporate sectors. Thus, the policy of globalization is directly linked to unemployment creation in our country.

Unemployment creates poverty, mental, tension, deviation, violence and sometimes suicidal tendency in the individual persons, as several researches have revealed. In relation to suicide and unemployment, Prof. R.N. Sharma argues that in India, incidence of suicides are on the rise on account of growing unemployment among highly educated persons. For him, a talented artist, an engineer, scholar or scientist, if unable to secure employment, feels depressed and commits suicide.

The record of National Crime Bureau informs that there is a close relationship between self-destruction of the educated youths and joblessness. According to Hans Raj Luman, of the Forum of Academy for Social Sciences, in 21 st century money is a great cause of suicide in which indebtedness and unemployment are more important than unsuccessful love and failure in examinations. Thus, no doubt, unemployment begets mental depression which motivates a person for self-destruction.

Not only students and educated unemployed but a great number of people engaged in business and agriculture end their life due to ill-effects of the reforms. Each year thousands of the farmers eat the pills of sulphas due to heavy loans and decreasing subsidy over seeds, chemicals and fertilizers. Several small traders kiss the noose of death when they get heavy loss due to open market economy and liberalization. Several young workers have drunk the cup of poison after their retrenchment or termination under the disinvestment policy of our government.


From above it is clear that competition, unemployment, poverty, corruption, pollution and crime etc. have grown up more after the implementation of the globalisation in the country. The persons of all age groups have been affected but the young people have been victimised very badly. They face a greater competition in education and jobs which create a mental tension. Parents also pressurize them for better results in place of expressing sympathy for their plight. Under such circumstances, there is no way left for them except to commit suicide. Thus the policy of globalization is the cause of youth suicide to a great                                                                                                                       l

- [The author is a research scholar.]

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Cultural and National Reconstruction of India


Guru ji was, perhaps, the only leader of the post independence period who had the vision to fully realize the importance of social and cultural forces, in shaping the political and civilizational destiny of India. He knew that India’s unity had been effectuated by it’s culture and it were the cultural forces alone that could strengthen this unity further. He was never tired of emphasizing: "our culture is the real and abiding cornerstone of national harmony and integration, subscribing to common national ideals irrespective of personal creeds".


Whenever the above fundamental reality of India was lost sight of, the country realized that Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of India is based not merely on the instrument of accession and articles 1 and 370 of the constitution of India; it is rooted in far more potent and enduring forces whom neither the turbulence and tornadoes of the past nor the negativism and nihilism of the present-day politics can really destroy. It is a relationship of mind and soul that has existed from time immemorial and found ample expression in common avenues of intellect and emotion, poetry and literature, philosophy and outlook. Every green pasture that you walk around in Kashmir, every silvery peak that you watch from pleasurable distance, every stream that sings it’s song by your side, every enchanting lake that you come across now and then and every little town and city that you visit, has some signpost or the other of this deep and abiding relationship. Kalhan was not off the mark when he observed in the Rajtarangini that there was hardly any place in Kashmir that was not a tirtha. And Vincent Smith rightly pointed out that ancient India had nothing more worthy of its early civilization than the grand ruins of Kashmir.

To understand in depth Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of India, it’s necessary to address ourselves to a few basic questions.

What were the forces that brought in to existence, about 4,000 years ago, a quite little temple on what is now known as the Shankaracharya Hill? What made the great Kashmiri king Lalitaditya (721-761) to build the glorious temple in honour of Surya, the Sun Lord, at Martanda and Avantiverman to construct equally splendid temples at Avantipura? What inner urges did these constructions symbolise? What philosophy, what temper of mind, did they represent? Were these inner urges, these tempers of mind, not products of the same cultural forces that prevailed in other parts of India? How is it that for thousands of years, the learned Brahmins of South India have, on getting up from bed, folded their hands looked northward and prayed : namaste; Sardadevi; Kashmira mandala vasini. Why it is that even now parents tell their children to seek the blessings of this goddess of learning who has her abode in north Kashmir in the vally of Kishanganga?

What made Shankara, when he wanted to rejuvenate the spirit of India, to travel from a small hut of Kaladi in Kerala all the way to the distant hills in Kashmir? And what made him stay there for quite some time and compose his famous poem, Soundarya Lahari, propounding his philosophy of Shakti and Shiva? Why is it that Abinava Gupta, the great savant of Kashmir shaivism, is also called ‘shankaracharya of kashmir’, and how is it that he draws his philosophic thought from the same cultural spring as that of shankara?

What were the forces that attracted Swami Vivekananda from Calcutta to Kanyakumari and then to Kashmir? What made him, standing before the holy cave of Amarnath; experience one of the highest stages of spiritual ecstasy? Why was he so captivated by the sight in the cave that for days, to use the words of Sister Nivedita, he could speak of nothing else but the image of Shiva and proclaim that he had never been so greatly inspired as then? What do the various landmarks on the route from Pahalgam to the cave of Amarnath- Chandanwari, Pissu Ghati, Sheshnag and Panchtarni- stand for? Are they not some of the most important symbols of Indian culture and beliefs? How is it that Kashmir had always an innate attraction for Indian saints and sages, poets and philosophers, and provided them with perennial inspiration? What, in moment of poetic intensity, made Kalidasa see the ‘laughter of Shiva’ in the Himalayas and Subramania Bharati think of Kashmir as the crown of Mother India?'

The answer to these questions is one and only one: Kashmir, for thousands of year, has been a part of the Indian vision–a silent and serene, yet solid and strong part; an integral and inseparable part.

Even when Islam came to Kashmir, it did not alter the ethos of the common folk. Most of the Islamic teaching was just grafted on Vedantic beliefs and thoughts. The central message of Kashmir’s patron saint and founder of the Rishi order, Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani was: ‘there is one God/but with a hundred names / there is not a single blade of grass/ witch does not worship him’.

Sheikh Noorunddin himself was deeply influenced by Lal Ded who ‘saw Shiva and Shakti sealed in one’ and whose outlook was permeated with some of the finest components of Indian thought and tradition.

Both Sheikh Nooruddin and Lal Ded were endowed ‘with vision which increases the power of speech and with inspired speech and their penetrating vision, coupled with earthy sense and rub of life, that kept the Kashmiri ethos within the overall cultural mainstream of India even after a very large part of the valley’s population had been brought under the fold of Islam. The followers of the rishi order abhorred killing. Like the Jains, they were careful not to cause harm even to insects. Sheikh Nooruddin went to the extent of refusing to walk on the grass lest it should be damaged. Poet Mohammed iqbal, who was a Kashmiri by descent, also noted in one of his Persian couplets, the habbit of Kashmiri Muslims to carve out ‘moortis’ even from the stone of graves.

The list of the living symbols and signposts of Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of India is long and virtually unending. But for our policy-makers it does not exist. No child is taught a world about it. No pressman writes a line on the subject. All that is spoken of or written about, almost ad nauseam, is the special relationship, the need to continue and strengthen article 370, and of giving more and more autonomy – ‘anything short of azadi’-promoting thereby a separatist psyche and according to a tacit approval to the ‘ two nation’ or ‘three nation’ theory

The Indian decisions- makers have been going astray at every turning point of Kashmir’s contemporary history as they have neither any clear idea about the true vision of India nor of Kashmir’s place in that vision.

Tragic failure

One of the tragic failures of the post -1947 India has been its inability to rekindle the power and profundity of the Indian culture and use it as a propelling force for fashioning out a new design of life, a new set of polity and a new form of governance. She has remained without a great inspiration, without an elevating philosophy which should have served as a guiding star for her leadership, at the dawn of independence, spoke of the opportunity witch the ‘long suppressed soul of India’ got to express itself; but, later on, forgot all about it. India’s mind leaned heavily towards imitations. She started following first the prescription given by the ‘welfare economists’ of the West and then the one written for her by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Consequently, India today is a pale shadow of what it could have been. Instead of reconstructing the elevating forces of her culture, recreating her own life – nurturing functions, delving deep into her ancient nobility of temper and refining her elevating ideals and concepts, evolved after years of contemplation, she began to be led by the materialism of others and follow the notion which were coined elsewhere in different set of circumstances and in different social and cultural milieu.

Around 1947, India stood at the crossroads of destiny, shaken by the tragedy of partition and wounded badly by the chopping of her wings. She should have learnt her lessons and thought of the great assets that the ancient power and profundity of her culture had provided. She should have invested those assets in the ventures suited to her conditions and built a new India with an original and independent approach and with an animation and value of her own. A culture of contemplation, contentment, compassions, balance and harmony, backed by creative and constructive impulse, should have constituted the core motivation of her intellectual, social and political leadership. But nothing of the sort happened. And India now resembles an old and worn out ship, overloaded by hordes of people with all their messy baggages. The ship itself is buffeted by the turbulent winds and waters that swirl around it. In the worst of scenarios, the ship may break up, and in the best, it may move permanently.

Blueprint for reforms

Before a point of no return is reached, the nation must realize the dangers to which it is exposed, make a fresh beginning, and draw up a blue print for reforms, the contours of which are shaped by the re-ignited power of the Indian culture and colored by the vigor, vitality and purity of an awakened soul.

For this blueprint of reforms and regeneration, illuminating ideas of Guru Ji have to be kept at the center of the thought and deeds. Let us also draw inspiration from the numerous works of social and cultural reconstruction which he and his dedicated band of followers have performed in various walks of life. Let us all honour his great legacy, get together, move forward to inject his ideals in the machinery of governance and prove how right he was when he observed: "we believe that the present perversions and misconceptions are only a passing phase. Our cultural roots are too firm and too deeply struck into the springs of immortality not to be easily dried up. They are bound to assert their age old vigor and vitality and throw out the parasitic growth of the past few centuries and sprout forth once again in all their pristine purity and grandeur."

— The writer is a former Governor of J&K and a former Union Minister

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Facts of Indian Nationalism

Prof. Jitender Prasad

At the outset we would deliberate upon the concept of nation. The Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary defines the nation as, "a country considered as a group of people with the same language, culture and history, who live in a particular area under one government." Stretching the concept of nation it defines the nationalism as, "the desire by a group of people who share a same race, culture, language, etc. to form an independent country." (2005:1014).

What was the nature of the people and the emergence of the nation who lived in India would require a deep historical probing. The earliest traces of human activity (i.e. going back to the second inter- glacial period between 400,000 and 200,000 BC showing traces of the use of stone implements) is associated with the Indus valley civilization – rise of city culture that saw the emergence of the centre of authority i.e., two cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The cities were known for their surplus granaries, flourishing trade between the people of this culture and those of Persian gulf and Mesopotamia. The continuity of the Harappan culture and later Aryan culture was prevented by the intrusion of people considered less civilized whom the Indo- Aryans met when they moved into the Ganges valley.

The earliest account of human culture, their life style and civilization could be traced from two sources; (a) the historical which consists of the archaeological evidence and that derived from Vedic literature and (b) the traditional consisting of the stories of Puranas. The strength of archaeological evidence lies in the fact that it provides three-dimensional facts, in the material remains discovered through survey and excavations. Romila Thapar, a noted historian contemplates, "these facts not only corroborate literary evidence and provide statistical data, they also help to fill the gaps, particularly in the earliest period of Indian history." (1966:23).

The political organizations of the Aryans could also be traced in the legends on the origin of government. Their social organizations do suggest the presence of three classes, the warrior, the priests and the common people. The distinctions between those classes began to be identified when the Aryans started treating Dasa being darker and of an alien culture as beyond the social pale. The lurking fear and danger was that assimilation with them might result in the loss of Aryan identity. The criterion of exclusion on the ground of color led to the rise of Varna division from which caste system is said to have emerged where element of color and scruples of work distinguished people into Aryans representing twice born castes, and the rest.

It was in the social domain that the caste organization acquired a significant role in which the Brahmans held a key position in systematically arranging various occupations. The fourth varna / caste had to suffer on account of low occupation which was justified on the ground of race. Their position was deemed so low that in later centuries even their touch was held to be polluting. The Aryan ascendancy over Dasas was conclusively established in the caste systems in which hierarchical gradation of people was established on the basis of exclusion and ritual superiority of Brahmans. Even the subsequent development of republics and monarchies that grew in India couldn’t contain the caste order that divided people into different occupations. Thus it would not be an exaggeration to state that the caste system that internally divided people created vertical divisions of people into hierarchical order and that worked against the rise of nation and the growth of nationalism.

The course of historical development suggest that the sentiments that people harbored centered around caste system where the dominance of Brahmanic ideology tended to preserve its supremacy by acquiring its hegemony in social, economic and political field. The arousal of Hindu sentiments and its religious code worked towards the prosperity of the Brahmins as against the lower caste and women (R.S. Sharma, 1966:29-32). D. Chattopadhyay observed that the so called superior class used mystification as well as coercion to uphold a social order where " the vast millions of toiling masses were to be kept reconciled to servitude." (1976,83) Noted historian Romila Thapar therefore holds that the name Hinduism (as having some linkage with nationalism) is something of an anachronism in the context of an ancient Indian society but is a convenient label for the religion growing some two millennia ago, out of the vedic cult of the Aryan invaders. Because of its contradiction with people it couldn’t check the influences of growing Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism at different periods. So much so that towards the end of middle ages popular saints like Kabir (1440-1518) and Nanak (1469-1539) gave a new turn to Bhakti by incorporating Islamic ideas into it. This however, didn’t deter the growth of Hinduism and the rise of Brahmanism. One aspect of Brahmins ascendancy was the rise of temple as an organization which grew into an institution with rich financial resources.

During the late 18th and the 19th century the reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Debender Nath Tagore, Keshav Chandra Sen, Telang, Ranade, Fulley, Dayanand Sarswati turned out to be the early pioneer nationalists who aimed at extending the sphere of religion for removing the principles of individual liberty to the sphere of religion. Along with a healthy desire for national freedom from the British rule the progressive features of a spiritual contest were seen by A.R. Desai (284) as the progressive features of religio-reform movements. The progressive features of the organized religious reform movement did transcend the rigid barriers of caste and promote education among women that worked against the social evils which had crept in our society. What is remarkable to note, however, is the fact that the traces of nationalism began to emerge in India when the people organized themselves for the first time against the British hegemonic rule after the middle of 19th century (i.e. from 1857 onwards) and that coincided with the rise of nationalism in India.

In order to understand the course and development of nationalism it would be pertinent to discuss first, the nationalist historian approach. The nationalist historian school is represented by political activists like Lajpat Rai, A.C. Majumdar, R.C. Pradhan, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Surrender Nath Bannerjea, C.F. Andrews and Girza Mukerji. Recently B.R. Nanda, Biseshwar Prasad and Amles Tripathi have also made contributions within the frame work of this approach. They show the exploitative character of colonial rule and feel that the national movement was the result of the spread and relation of the idea or spirit of the nationalism or liberty. Their major weakness, however, was that they tended to ignore and underplay the inner contradictions of Indian society both in term of class and caste. Their treatment of the strategic and ideological dimension of the movement is also inadequate.

Yet another approach in history is known as the Marxist approach represented by R. P. Dutt and A.R. Desai. R.P. Dutt views the rise of nationalist movement as a structured bourgeoisie movement in which the dominant leadership rested in the hands of the capitalist class. A.R. Desai points out the contradictory features of nationalism in course of structural transformation that took place under the impact of the British rule. He observed, " British rule dealt a fatal blow to the peculiar feudal framework which provide the matrix for the Indian society of a millennium. It generated forces which directly or indirectly gave a mortal blow to the very root of the peculiar stratificatory system known as caste system and created basis for the emergence of new social class." (1946: vii-viii). He applied historical materialist method as a starting point to deepen the understanding of the Indian society during the pre independence time in his book Social background of Nationalism (1946) and The recent trends in Indian Nationalism (1961).

Bipan Chandra and his followers also discuss rise of nationalism within Marxist tradition and tries to locate the issues – of the nature of the contradiction in colonial India, the relationship between primary and secondary conditions, the class character of the movement, the relationship between forms of struggle and class character, ideology, strategy and the mass character of the movement and so on. Bipin Chandra considered opinion is that, "India’s freedom struggle was basically the result of fundamental contradiction between the interests of the Indian people and that of British Capitalism …" He further suggested that the gains of national movement destroyed the two basic constituents of colonial hegemony – first, that British rule was benevolent or for the good of the Indians and that it was invincible or incapable of being overthrown. He further observes, " in the colonial situation the anti- imperialist struggles was primary and the social class and caste struggles were secondary and therefore, struggles within Indian society were to be initiated and then compromised rather than carried to an extreme, with all mutually hostile classes and castes making concessions." (1987: 22-25).

On the basis of aforesaid reviews of Marxist, nationalist and Marxist – cum – nationalist integrationist perspective is indeed a matter of concern as to why the glorious tradition of past is slowly but steadily losing its importance in contemporary times when there is an urgent need to counter the market forces in the wake of new economic policy and ever widening process of globalization. The threat of market forces pose a crisis before a large mass of population who have been driven to despair – conditions are being created for the toiling masses, farmers, agricultural labourers and workers to commit suicide. When Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in, ‘The Discovery of India’ that "the greatest achievement of Gandhi was to make people fearless because dominant impulse in India under British rule was that of fear, pervasive, oppressing, strangling; fear of the money lendes; fear of unemployment and starvation, which were always on the threshold." It is this growing trend of despair which threaten to destroy the spirit of nationalism - the positive legacy that we need to strive and preserve to maintain our integrity through the spirit of nationalism. A dispassionate discourse and development of India's future is needed so that our politicians learn to rise above the vote bank psyche and channelise their creative energy for the growth of genuine nationalist spirit.

– Dept. of Sociology, M.D.U. Rohtak

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