News / Asia

Walmart Caught In Lobbying Controversy in India

India’s leftist party activists shout slogans during a protest in front of a Bharti Walmart Best Price wholesale store in Hyderabad, India, November 19, 2102.India’s leftist party activists shout slogans during a protest in front of a Bharti Walmart Best Price wholesale store in Hyderabad, India, November 19, 2102.
x
India’s leftist party activists shout slogans during a protest in front of a Bharti Walmart Best Price wholesale store in Hyderabad, India, November 19, 2102.
India’s leftist party activists shout slogans during a protest in front of a Bharti Walmart Best Price wholesale store in Hyderabad, India, November 19, 2102.
Anjana Pasricha
In India, the government will hold an inquiry into lobbying activities by U.S. global retailer Walmart. The government’s recent decision to allow foreign supermarkets such as Walmart to set up shop in India is embroiled in controversy. 
 
The inquiry by a retired judge was announced following a report that Walmart had spent $25 million over four years to lobby American lawmakers to gain access to overseas markets including India.
 
The report led to an uproar in parliament. Opposition lawmakers are demanding to know if bribes were paid in India.
 
Walmart says the lobbying did not involve improper conduct on its part. U.S. officials also say that the global retailer has not violated American laws as lobbying is legal.
 
But in India lobbying is a grey area. Although businessmen often discuss projects with government officials, companies are not allowed to spend money on lobbying. Corporate contributions to political campaigns are also banned.  
 
As a result, lobbying is usually kept under wraps. In 2010, telephone transcripts of a prominent lobbyist trying to influence the appointment of key ministers led to a huge outcry as it put the spotlight on the nexus between big business and the government.  
 
A public affairs professional, Dilip Cherian at Perfect Relations, says lobbying is often associated with graft.  

“Ultimately lobbying is about policy alterations or policy creation. When you have a situation where policy making is shrouded in both secrecy as well as not clearly understood motivations, then the connotation is that if lobbying if successful, it must involve bribery,” he noted.
 
The lobbying controversy is the latest to hit Walmart, which plans to open its first stores in India in about three years following the government's green light to foreign retailers.
 
The government has gained parliamentary approval for its policy. But the U.S. retailer continues to be caught in a political tussle between the government and opposition parties, which bitterly oppose the entry of foreign supermarket chains.
 
Opposition parties allege that the ruling Congress Party is promoting the interests of foreign companies. They say that the entry of foreign retail giants will destroy the mom and pop stores which dominate in India and result in widespread job losses.
 
The government hopes the entry of foreign retailers will attract investment and modernize the retail sector. India, with growing numbers of middle class consumers, is seen as a lucrative market by foreign retailers.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid