For the last week shopkeepers in Mumbai have been on strike. All the shops have been closed in protest against a proposed new tax.
This article explains better than I can why the retailers are protesting:
We had some foreknowledge of the impending strike so we had stocked up on goods last weekend but we only imagined that the strike would last for 2-3 days.
Now 7 days later the effects are being felt. Chemists are still open and so is the local wine shop (thank God!) so you can buy the essentials, but non-essential items like bread, milk, eggs etc. are not available. The local retailers association in each area is enforcing the strike so even if a shopkeeper wants to open, he is forced to close after a “persuasive visit” by the association reps.
I went out this morning to try and buy a few items. Most of the shops remain closed and to compound the problem there have been no deliveries for 3-4 days so any shops that do open are running very low on stock.
One should never doubt the resourcefulness of the average person in need though, and little systems have been set up to work their way around the strike. Outside some of the closed shops a delivery boy will be sitting and you can place your order with him and if they have stock it will be delivered to your house the same day. Other shops open for 10-15 mins at a time and then close before they are visited by the strike enforcers. Groups of shoppers gather on the corners and compare notes as to what shops are open and where certain items are available.
As always the poor people suffer the most. Those on daily wages who couldn’t afford to stock up in advance, and the shopkeepers with low profit margins who rely on daily business to keep afloat.
The Police are starting to worry that if the strike continues people will start looting the shops. Hopefully it won’t come to that though and the strike will end soon.
If it doesn’t though, I will be drowning my sorrows with wine and popping Paracetamol to get rid of the hangover!