Jeff Bezos is the founder of retail giant Amazon and the richest man of the world. His wealth is more than the Bill Gates which remained the richest man on earth for many years. As the richest man and owner of a giant corporation like Amazon- he gets special attention where ever in the world he goes.
He was expecting the same when he visited India in the beginning of January 2020. He announced to invest one billion US dollars in Indian market before his arrival to please the Modi government. He met with Bollywood stars and business tycoons.
But surprisingly he got cold shoulder from Modi government. He was expecting red carpet reception from Indian government but Prime Minister Modi and is his cabinet ministers snubbed him instead. He was also greeted by angry traders and online retailers.
Jeff Bezos announced that the e-commerce giant wants to put money into “digitizing small and medium businesses” and said that, in the 21st century, “the most important alliance is going to be the alliance between India and the United States.”
However, small business owners in India don’t seem to think that alliance should involve Amazon, and thousands took to the streets this week in protest. Sumit Agarwal of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said demonstrations were planned in as many as 300 cities across the country.
Agarwal said in a tweet Amazon will “destroy small retailers” and called Bezos an “economic terrorist.”
But the small traders whose trades lobby organised protests control 90% of India’s retail, and they broadly support protectionist measures.
When India introduced new laws to regulate foreign e-commerce companies in 2018 barring foreign-owned companies from selling their own inventory—forcing companies such as Amazon to operate more like eBay and sell only third-party goods—it opened the door for local companies to exploit the e-commerce market. Reliance, the country’s biggest company by market capitalization, is jumping into the fray with Jiomart. And Ambani invested heavily on Modi’s election campaign. Now it’s time to pay back.
If the platform succeeds, it could link up the millions of mom and pop stores around India, creating better supply chains. But it would be yet another sign to foreign companies that New Delhi can change its laws at any time to favor its own.
As soon as he arrived in India-he got the news of an inquiry initiated against his company Amazon by Competition Commission of India (CCI) on the allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and practices. The small traders organised protests in more than 300 cities against Amazon and Bezos for trying to kill competition from bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Indian PM Modi and cabinet ministers snubbed him allegedly for “predatory prices or some unfair trade practices”. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said that “it is not as if they are doing a favour to India when they invest a billion dollars” if that money is used to take business away from Indian companies.
Bezos went back from India wondering about the hostile attitude of the Indian government and thinking what went wrong. His company is under investigation and the Indian government appears increasingly hostile. But why is New Delhi taking such a confrontational approach to the retail giant at a time when the country’s economy could use all the help it can get? The answer lies in a curious mix of opaque workings, improper business dealings and political resistance.
In the face of it- Modi government is giving the impression that it is taking action against Amazon to protect the interests of Indian small traders and online retailers. Modi government is buying the support of small traders- owners of super markets to snub Jeff Bezos.
But hardly anybody is discussing the real reason of this hostile attitude shown by Modi government to Bezos-the Washington Post. Jeff Bezos is also the owner of America’s most influential newspaper Washington Post. And Modi government is not happy with editorial policy of Washington Post.
Modi government is not happy the way Washington Post owned by Jeff Bezos is covering the situation in Kashmir and growing protests against citizenship law amendment. Modi government is using the amazon to put pressure on Bezos to bring in the Washington Post in line of Indian government and promote the Modi narrative.
There is political side to this cold shoulder shown to Bezos. He is also owner of Washington Post. Washington Post is heavily criticising the policies of Modi government. That newspaper has been fiercely critical of the Indian government’s handling of the recent nationwide protests, which were sparked by an amendment to the citizenship law.
The disdain with which Modi’s party seemingly regards The Washington Post’s coverage can be seen in senior BJP leader Vijay Chauthaiwale’s reply to Bezos on Twitter when the Amazon CEO praised India’s “dynamism” and “democracy”. “Please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise your charm offensive is likely to be [a] waste of time and money,” Chauthaiwale’s said.
Modi wants to put pressure on the Bezos to stop negative coverage of Modi government. Their message is clear if you want to get excess the Indian market than don’t offend or criticise Modi government in any way.
Now back to economic factor. As the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market, India is vital for the likes of Amazon and Walmart, which acquired Flipkart in 2018. In a study released earlier this month, the CCI forecast that total e-commerce revenue in the country would reach US$120 billion this year, representing annual growth of 51 per cent.
Some 4,757 e-commerce start-ups are vying for their piece of the action, the study showed, but of the more than 1 million online retail transactions that are carried out in India every day, the bulk are handled by either Amazon or Flipkart, which enjoy 31.2 per cent and 31.9 per cent market share, respectively, according to data compiled by financial services company Standard & Poor’s.
As Amazon pursues an ever larger share of the market in India, its journey has been marked by constant allegations of unsavory trade practices, from predatory pricing, to favouritism and conflicts of interest with its positioning of subsidiaries as sellers and brands on its marketplace.
Spearheading the campaign against the US retail giant has been the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) – with its 70 million members – and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu nationalist ideological fountainhead of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
In fact- Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) led the anti-amazon and Jeff Bezos protests across India.
Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of CAIT, said the body was not opposed to e-commerce, but had a problem with the way major players like Amazon and Flipkart had tried to “control and dominate” the market.
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17 November, 2019