An estimated 50 million Indians – many of them small shopkeepers – have gone on a one-day nationwide strike, according to unions and opposition parties.
The action came as the government formally signed off on sweeping economic reforms.
Plans to permit global retail giants like Wal-Mart and Carrefour to open nationwide stores brought millions of people out for a nationwide strike.
Unions say allowing Foreign Direct Investment or FDI will put them small shops out of business.
“The question is whether FDI stands for foreign destruction of India, whether its looting the common man and the middle class,” said Shaina NC, from the Bhartiya Janata party.
The one-day strike involved hundreds of thousands of public sector employees, worried what reforms would mean for their jobs.
The action also saw schools shut and public transport in many cities severely disrupted.
Another major reform is the phasing out of subsidies for diesel. With prices rising 14 percent over the past few days, many workers went to extreme lengths to vent their anger, including lying on rail tracks.