As Indian government lifts Wal-Mart ban, small business owners go on strike

Today, kirana owners across India will be closing their doors, Reuters reports. Kirana, which are small grocery and convenience stores, will be protesting a government decision to allow foreign supermarkets, including Wal-Mart, to open up in India. Not unlike small business owners in the West, the Indian kirana owners fear the move could lead to the destruction of small, family-owned stores that have come to occupy a central place in Indian life.

For India, which has the highest density of shops in the world, the move to allow big-box stores to operate in the country is a hot political issue. Even the pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is siding with the countries 50 million kirana owners, and the 220 million people dependent on these businesses for their livelihood, and calling for a continued ban.

Industry analysts, however, as well as some store owners and customers believe kiranas will likely survive due to their convenience. Kiranas are largely located in densely populated neighborhoods, whereas domestic supermarkets are mostly found in shopping malls outside the main cities. As well, kirana owners are more flexible to specific customer requests. Most kiranas are used to a competitive market, analysts says, as they have been competing against each other for decades.

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