12 May, 2021

Baby And The Bathwater

The advocates of swadeshi are partly right. But they are missing the real issue: the economy.

Baby And The Bathwater

AT suburban Vile Parle, where Mumbai's fourth McDonald's outlet is coming up, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other proponents of swadeshi, the current fad in Indian development economics, are fighting the latest battle against the big, bad multinational corporations (MNCs). Says BJP corporator Parag Alvani: "Bring us technology, that's fine. We don't need MNCs in the food business telling us what we should eat." Other fears: beef burgers, heavy advertising, and American culture. Charges that leave vegetarian Amit Jatia, MD of Hardcastle Restaurants, franchisees for McDonald's, quite dumbfounded. "For every explanation we give, there's a new objection. Tell me how do I convince a sadhu that we're okay?" he asks.

As an overwhelmingly Indian-industry-friendly government takes charge at the Centre, Jatia and his counterparts seem headed for a disturbing and uncertain future. Suddenly, swadeshi seems to be the mantra on every lip. Over 60 per cent of the 1,220 people Outlook-MODE (see pages 54, 55) spoke to in the six metros...

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