Foreign Direct Investment into multi-brand retail has been put on hold. But in the brief window that it almost became a reality, a fierce debate broke out, with wildly opposing claims. This is ironic, given that every claim made about its benefits or risks can be tested against the experience of almost ten years of Indian organised retail, which closely followed the western model. This week, we use the Indian experience of big retail to take a hard look at the propaganda for and against it: does it help farmers? Will it create an agricultural back end chain? Will it bring down prices? Does it squeeze out small traders? Does it create employment? And do we even need foreign retail chains at all?