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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid