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India's minority government wins test of pro-market reform agenda

Published on Dec 5, 2012 10:08 PM
An Indian shopper gestures to a product while a store employee looks on at the Bharti Walmart Best Price wholesale store in Manawala, some 11km from Amritsar, on September 19, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's minority government survived a vote in Parliament on Wednesday on a contentious move to allow in foreign supermarket chains, delivering a major boost to its pro-market reform agenda.

After two days of stormy debate, lawmakers in the lower house supported the government and defeated an opposition motion against the decision to open up the highly protected retail industry to foreign firms such as Walmart.

The US retail giant aims to be one of the first to set up foreign-owned megastores for consumers in India, a prospect that has raised fears among opposition parties of small shopkeepers being put out of business.

The vote saw the motion defeated by a margin of 35, handing the Congress-led government a victory of 253 votes against 218 in its first major test since it lost its majority in September.

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