Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wal-Mart in India

This New York Times article details the discount retailer's push into new markets around the globe, most recently into India. How does this account connect with the cultural effects of globalization we see portrayed in the film Monsoon Wedding? How does the account of Wal-Mart's commissioned Indian farms differ from the IMF-induced Jamaican farming crisis reported in the documentary Life and Debt?


  1. By: Alison Schroeder

    This account of effects of globalization on different cultures relates back to film Monsoon Wedding because the bride-to-be is soon to be marrying an Indian man that lives in the Houston, Texas. The father is short on money when going along with the plans for the wedding saying that he has a shipment going out to the US market next month. The husband-to-be and his families newly western american ways mix with the old traditional Indian ways.
    As for the Wal-Mart presence in Indian, it is different from the Jamaican farming crisis, because this is all to benefit Wal-Mart. In the article it is quoted that "Wal-Mart is persisting because its effort in India is critical to its global growth strategy." Wal-Mart is doing anything to keep a strong grip on the market in Indian. In the documentary Life and Debt, the US market would not go anywhere near the farming in Jamaica because of different reasons and this hurt Jamaica economically. Indian is fearing that the small businesses will be shut down because of Wal-Mart's presence but as of now it is only helping the market.

  2. Delaney Tomczak

    In the article, walmart's effect of globalization is significantly related to the film "Monsoon Wedding," which we just watched in class. This article is showing walmarts attempt to "modernize" India by pushing it's retail store into the country. By doing this walmart is pushing new, "westernized" ideas of farming onto the India farmers already there. For example, the article quotes, "But up close, visitors can see some curious experiments: insect traps made with reusable plastic bags; bamboo poles helping bitter gourd grow bigger and straighter; and seedlings germinating from plastic trays under a fine net.These are low-tech innovations, to be sure. But they are crucial to the goals of the benefactor — Wal-Mart — that supplied them." These ideas which India never utilized before are now becoming staple ways for India to farm its produce. In the film, we were able to already see some of the effects of globalization. Not only was the family spread out everywhere, but you could see the mixes and mashes of globalization. As cell phones were becoming more popular, and the idea of a computer necessary. At one point in the film, Lalit's wife even suggested he get a computer to keep up with all his papers and deemed it necessary. Additionally throughout the movie we could see people mixing between speaking Hindu and English..never having Hindu, the countries true language show as the dominant one.

    This article also relates to the documentary "Life and Debt," because it shows a company (walmart) trying to take advantage of a "fresh country" and get it's product out there for its own good. In this article it even noted that the sellers of the produce could buy it cheaper from the walmart made
    versions than from the food made by the Indian farmers alone. Does this not sound familiar to the Jamaican crisis the farmers underwent where the grocery stores would only buy from the foreign supplies because it was cheaper than the home grown food? If India lets this globalization of walmart begin to take over its retail arena (which as of now walmart is unable to directly sell to Indian people by law) then it too will likely follow the path of Jamaica and have many of it's local small businesses shut down.

  3. Shawna Bruell (extra credit commentary)
    This article from the New York Times is relevant to everything we have been learning in class about cultures suddenly colliding (due to colonization,trade reasons etc...). In particular the article can relate back to Monsoon Wedding. The article is a real life example of when (like in Monsoon Wedding) globalization occurs. Globalization by definition is basically saying that countries are becoming "closer" as we trade and converse with one another. What actually is happening, however, is that super-powers (such as the United States) are attempting to westernize other countries, so everyone is becoming more alike. Like in Monsoon Wedding, the characters (all of them) re torn between old Indian traditions and new westernized ways.This is exemplified in our attempt to bring a western market such as Wal-Mart to India. As of now, it isn't hurting the economy like it would have done in India (ie: Life and Debt). In Jamaica it would cause economic problems because Jamaica would become independent and not sustainable on its own putting traditional workers (such as farmers) out of work.

  4. This article touches on issues that we have discussed throughout class such as globilization like we saw in the movie, Monsoon Wedding. Both are set in India, where an Americanized version of normalacy is threatening to take over. Quotes like “Walmart needs high-quality produce at low prices to draw customers in volume” show that Walmart doesn’t care about what the farmers are being paid or about what the consumers will end up eating: fertilizer and pesticide. Although Walmart is still small in India, it hopes to grow larger just as it has in China, Mexico, and Brazil. I must ask if this will help or hurt the people in the end when all we have left to look to is Wal-mart instead of local farmer’s markets because they have all been bought out.

  5. I think that it is fantastic what Wal-Mart is doing to India's economy and not to mention job market. The globalization of such a monopoly in 3rd world countries, not to mention being willing to collaborate with local farmers in need of employment, is definitely a positive push to India's lacking market and economy. This sort of globalization is completely different than the IMF's strict and unjust restrictions in Jamaican agriculture. The IMF completely inhibited Jamaica's market by allowing such mass imports to dominate the market, which in turn shut down thousand's of local industries and shops, only crippling Jamaica's sufficiency.
    The article states that, "Farmers harvest cucumbers on a farm in Haider Nagar that supplies Bharti Wal-Mart, a joint venture." The fact that Wal-Mart is including Indian's own agricultural production helps strengthen their economy, create a job pool for the unemployed, at the same time benefiting Wal-Mart. It is a win-win situation for everybody. In "Monsoon Wedding" the traditional Indian family was beginning to take note of the modernization of India. The father of the family states that he will soon be seeing a big pay-day after a US shipment goes through. Just like Wal-Mart collaborating with local Indian farmers, it looks as though globalization is also a large factor in the father's finances. In both cases, modernization is a positive force driving the development of India, a country lacking in economic stability.

  6. Kayla Hirschmugl (extra credit comment)

    This article relates to the movie we just watched in class, "Monsoon Wedding", not only because it they both are located in India, but also because it covers the same concept of Globalization beginning to overshadow the old traditions of this culture. Wal-mart is attempting to establish as many stores as possible in India, but is having difficulties with this because of a law that states, "by New Delhi’s ban on foreign-owned retail chains that prevent it from selling directly to Indian consumers." Even with these constrictions Wal-mart is still pushing these new contemporary western ideas on this country, “Wal-Mart is pushing many of its traditional products in India, like clothes, electronics and home goods.” This idea of Wal-Mart supplying electronics, at low prices, is something that can be easily related back to the film. Take for instance the excessive use of cell phones in the movie, or when Pimmi (Aditi’s mother) tells Lalit that he needs to get a computer because everyone has one now a day.
    However the article does also relate to the documentary “Life and Debt” even though they take place on separate continents. “Life and Debt” covers an important agricultural and economical crisis taking place in Jamaica. The Big Corporate grocery stores would only buy foreign products and not native products because it was cheaper for them to do so, this caused many farmers and small businesses to shut down. India is worried that the same thing is going to happen to them. Wal-Mart is buying some of the local farmers produce, but as one local farmer, Mohammad Haneef states, “but its buyers are picky, taking the best vegetables and leaving him with inferior ones that he still must truck to wholesale markets. . . Wal-Mart has been paying on time. We would just like them to buy more.” If Wal-Marts do start popping up everywhere in India as they have done here, I do believe that small businesses in India will have to shut down, nevertheless as of right now, Wal-mart has done nothing but employ over 800 people, and help out by buying some produce from local farmers.

  7. Ciera Haskins
    Extra Credit Comment

    In this situation, it's almost a lose-lose for Wal-Mart. They wish to open more stores but they can not transfer crops far because they will spoil; the only way to fix this is to have another place as an epicenter, which is more money out of pocket for Wal-mart. I understand how globalization helps the overall economy, but the question for me is who is it helping really? America? India? Some farmers in Nagar like working with them because they are getting paid well and on time, but others see it as a rip off, because they are left with not so "up to standard" product to sale at the Easy Day wholesale markets. Jobs were created but it doesn't mean that it's a good idea, you can have a job all day, but those jobs are lost if you don't have the necessary consumer base to support a store like Wal-Mart. While reading this I thought about the documentary on Jamaica "Life and Debt" and how Jamaican farmers had to sell crops at a higher price so they weren't making any money. Also the Jamaican McDonald's was put out of business and the American McDonald’s was put in its place. In India we see the same thing; Wal-Mart comes in and could potentially put the wholesale markets out of business. So who is that good for, definitely not the Indian owner of that store? Just like freedom; globalization too comes with a price.

  8. Heather Allen

    Walmart says they are using a global growth strategy as a business model for the farms they are supporting in India. I think it's important to note that these are Walmart owned farms and not actually stores infiltrating Indian towns, not yet anyway, there is one, and soon to be two more. If there were Walmart stores in major Indian cities that would show a major move on Walmart's part of globalization. So, for future reference if I mention Walmart in India, I am referring to Walmart farms. Globalization is the spread of ideas and information, which makes the world seem smaller because information can be shared within a matter of seconds. The cultural effects would be that some people would come to accept Walmart as a Western company that is in the country to help provide jobs. Others may see Walmart in India as a Western cultural invasion. In Monsoon Wedding, there was the acceptance of Western ideals by Dubey and rejection of Western ideals by Lalit.

    In the movie Life and Debt the IMF packages were not made to help developing economic countries. They were made for countries that have a well established economy. I think Walmart is helping the Indian economy because they are treating the country and the workers as real people. In Life and Debt it seemed like the companies only cared about profits.

  9. "The company is trying to do to agriculture in India what it has done to industries around the world: change business models by using its hyper-efficient practices to improve productivity and speed the flow of goods" (New York Times). This is statement that is purely that of globalization. Walmart believes that their method is the best and therefore the rest of the world needs to implement it in order to achieve the levels the American corporation has. Just as in "Monsoon Wedding," Dubey thinks that Lalit would want the best which Dubey considers to be the all white American version of wedding.

    This account of Wal-Mart's commissioned Indian farms differ from the IMF-induced Jamaican farming crisis reported in the documentary Life and Debt through the employment of Indian workers and the fact that the local farmers are producing the goods whereas in "Life and Debt," the farmers were sent out of business by the cheaper American products.

  10. Tuba Ahmed

    The integration of Wal-Mart in traditional Indian society under the guise of cooperation, or “globalization,” seems precarious because of the slippery slope of big corporations as seen in the past. The article presents both sides of the issue- that although there are groups lobbying for less corporate control of their markets, there are also Indians who are directly benefiting from Wal-Mart’s presence. Given the perspective of both sides, and also acknowledging that Wal-Mart doesn’t seem to be exploiting workers, I am doubtful that this will always be the case. Many times corporation simply need to establish a foundation of trust before they begin their exploitative measures, which is what we saw in Stephanie Black’s Life and Debt. Thus, even though exploitative measures such as those taken by the IMF are not readily seen, I still think that the groundwork for those measures is currently underway.

    The globalizing measures that Wal-Mart is taking relates back to Monsoon Wedding as we see traditional Indian society mix with more westernized conceptions of what it means to have a good quality of life. These types of globalizing measures send a signal that societies must “progress,” or “develop,” when really, they are well off without international intervention.

  11. Globalization is a serious issue that has been broached by a number of works we've encountered in class. Monsoon Wedding and Life and Debt have both expressed differing views on the subject. In Life and Debt, we watched as Black explored the economic and personal damage created by globalization and the IMF. Market competition plummeted as the foreign-made goods flooded the Jamaican markets and eroded the ability of the native companies to compete. Monsoon Wedding brought the audience a somewhat different take on the matter. The integration of foreign culture into the native one wasn't depicted as terrible in the microcosm of Lalit's family. Wal-Mart's effect on foreign markets differs from both of these previous examples. I know from my own personal experience that Wal-Mart's appearance in U.S. communities can be both a good and bad thing. The cheaper prices than most mom-and-pop stores can offer are helpful to struggling and even middle-class families in balancing their monthly budgets. However, those lower prices often work to drive those same mom-and-pop stores out of business by taking away their customer base. I can't imagine that a similar situation wouldn't exist in India and other foreign markets that Wal-Mart penetrates. I suspect that unlike the negative effects that globalization has had in Jamaica, India will reap more benefits than drawbacks from Wal-Mart's presence.

  12. This article and the movie “Monsoon Wedding” have a great deal in common. Globalization is an ongoing trend all over the world; we witnessed this throughout “Monsoon Wedding”. Everything from Lalit’s wife convincing him to buy a computer to Dubey wanted to use a white tent instead of a traditional colorful one displays the effects of modernization on countries such as India. When businesses such as Wal-Mart press their way into these new foreign markets they are opening the door for natives to put aside their traditions and consider buying “westernized” products, “Wal-Mart is pushing many of its traditional products in India, like clothes, electronics and home goods.” I like that this article gives both sides of the argument. It displays to the reader the fact that some people are benefiting from Wal-Mart’s presence while others feel that there is no need for it.

  13. This article right away reminded me of the documentary film "Life and Debt" regarding the foreign countries coming into other countries and using their resources and labor for their own economic agenda. Although it would be nice to believe that the large corporation Wal Mart is expanding into India for the good of the people and their economy. I think after seeing the film that these corporations only have one thing in mind and that is their own success and wealth. I think Wal Mart entering the Indian market will have the exact same impact that it did in Life and Debt and the market in Jamaica. It will probably really impact all the small farmers if Wal Mart is selling produce for cheaper than small farmers can sell their goods for. After learning about the topic in the film I now and not as easily fooled by seeing articles like this that portray these corporations as helping the natives instead of hindering them.