New Delhi: Anguished over "perennial disarray" in Parliament over FDI in retail, India Inc's
prominent leaders on Sunday asked common people to stand up against "false drama" on the issue.

In a strongly-worded joint statement, HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh and Rajya Sabha MP and former Unilever chief Ashok Ganguly said, "a slowing economy seems to pale in comparison to the larger crisis at hand- that of a Parliament that is completely unable to function in the way these sacred institutions were set up to be.

"A democracy encourages openness and permits and dissent, but perennial disarray and disruption is sacrilegious," they said.

Angry over putting on hold 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, the honchos said, "Opposing investment in modern retail for the sake of it is only defending vested interests to the detriment of the vast majority.

"The farmers, consumers and the common people must raise their voice against this false drama of apprehension against investment and modernising trade in organised retailing..."

Parekh and Ganguly gave a call to "the saner sanctions" of Corporate India to "come out and strongly support progressive measures and reforms with the same spirit and gusto with which we take the liberties to criticise policies or issues we do not appreciate".

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee announced on Saturday that the Centre has put the decision to open FDI in retail on hold till a political consensus is reached on the issue.

Parliament has remained paralysed since November 22 as the entire Opposition, supported by UPA allies -DMK and Trinamool Congress protested the FDI decision. The statement said that there are 32 bills pending in the Winter Session of Parliament many of which, are of far greater consequence and importance for the country than FDI in retail.

"The protests on FDI in retail are misconceived and unfortunate. But, hope to salvage this situation should not be lost," it said.

The corporate leaders said during the course of the year, a section of the industry together with common man raised its voice over many "misgivings" of the government.

They wanted the government to stem the slowdown, increase investment and bring in new reforms. At that time, no one objected, they said.

"But, when the government began to act, what have we, but chaos and adjournments (in Parliament) over a decision to allow FDI in retail". The statement said as the nation "interminably and unproductively" quarrels about 'India's tryst with destiny', the more important question is how should some semblance of order be restored in Parliament?

Parekh was one among the prominent citizens along with Wipro chief Azim Premji who had recently written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern about the policy paralysis in the government following several scams like 2G and CWG.

Last week Tata Group chief Ratan Tata had tweeted that political differences should not be allowed to come in the way of country's progress.

The two honchos, further said, "It is more important to articulate the economics of FDI in retail. It is illusory to believe that the market will be flooded with FDI".

"Retailing is not an easy business--margins are thin, large parcels of real estate are not easily available and supply chain logistics ranging from warehousing, cold storage to transportation pose a major challenge," they added.

The role of the Central government in FDI was minimal and the greater role lied with the state governments as a maze of laws ranging from Shops and Establishments Act to the APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act, amongst, several others falls within the sate's domain, the statement said.

"Progressive states that wish to attract FDI in retail will encourage investments and vice versa," it added.

Parekh and Ganguly said more than half of the vegetables and fruits in the country go wasted due to lack of proper infrastructure.

"...more than 50 per cent rots in the fields due to inadequate cold storage facility and supply chain, to utter distress of the farmers and at the cost to the end consumers. There are thousands of similar events every year across the country," the statement said.

"What is intriguing and bewildering is that the false alarm of FDI is continuing to be used after so many years, as a bogey in modern times against foreigners and foreign investment. It is completely delude to argue that kirana shops will be wiped out with the onslaught of FDI in retail," it said.

PTI