Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 313

New Forms of Retail Trade and the Trajectories of Urban Exclusion in India: A Review

Sobin George



This review paper attempts to understand the possible exclusion of people and communities who/which are engaged in small entrepreneurship and petty trading activities in Indian cities in the context of the new wave of retail revolution. Drawing from available official data and social science literature, the paper argues that while the new organised retailing has the potential to affect every socio religious group in the traditional sector, it would affect Muslims in urban India followed by the Scheduled Castes more intensely due to their higher worker population ratio in elementary occupations and traditional retailing, which brings a new dimension to the continuing exclusion of these already excluded groups. The paper also highlights that while eliminating them from the retail landscape, organised retailing would raise the risk of their falling back to exploitative caste centred agrarian sector and more exploitative urban informal jobs. This could also be counterproductive to the new wave of entrepreneurship by Dalits emerged in the recent times, which was noted by several scholars as a strong means of young Dalits moving out of caste and local power relations. New questions that the paper brings out are the spatial reorganisation of cities where the public spaces once used for local interactions are captured by private interests, creation of new identities around such constructed city spaces and the whole question of right to cities.

Working Papers