Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos greets during the Amazon SMBhav summit, at Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday. | ANI
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos greets during the Amazon SMBhav summit, at Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi | ANI File Photo
Text Size:

New Delhi: Amazon Inc. chief executive Jeff Bezos may have announced his e-commerce giant’s massive investment plans for India but that has not stopped the Narendra Modi government from giving him a cold shoulder, in a rare instance of the regime not welcoming a foreign investor.

Bezos, who is on a three-day visit to India, had sought meetings with top government leaders but the appointments were not given, sources told ThePrint.

During the ongoing visit, the world’s richest man has not met either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or any senior cabinet ministers. This is unlike his previous 2014 visit when the Amazon chief had met PM Modi. At the time, Bezos had committed to invest $2 billion in India.

Bezos also met Modi in 2016 during the latter’s visit to the US and made fresh investment commitments of $3 billion in its Indian business. He was also part of the 20 top industry CEOs who met Modi during the PM’s US trip in 2017.

A PMO spokesperson told ThePrint he was not aware if an appointment was sought, adding that he only knows if the PM meets someone or is due to meet someone.

On Wednesday, Bezos announced Amazon’s intent to invest $1 billion to help small businesses move online. He also predicted that the 21st century will be the Indian century.

This is one of the major investment initiatives by a foreign investor announced in the last few months and comes at a time when growth in the Indian economy is expected to touch an 11-year low of 5 per cent in 2019-20.

However, the Modi government is in a combative mode.

On Thursday, Commerce and Industry minister Piyush Goyal said companies like Amazon and Flipkart are not doing any “favours” to India by investing billions of dollars in India. He also warned them to follow the rules rather than finding any loopholes in law.


Also read: Jeff Bezos should worry about Mukesh Ambani, not Modi govt’s probe against Amazon


The election angle

The minister’s statement comes as the ruling BJP is keen to not displease the politically important traders’ lobby ahead of the Delhi assembly elections.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has been staging protests all over the country against Bezos’ visit and demanding that e-commerce firms adhere to the regulations set under the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy. Some members of the organisation have even claimed that foreign e-commerce players are “economic terrorists”.

The statements by BJP leaders also suggest that the ruling party’s displeasure with the Amazon CEO could be linked to Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post‘s criticism of some of the policy decisions of the Modi government — the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Vijay Chauthaiwale, in-charge of BJP’s foreign affairs department, alluded to this in his tweet  as he told Bezos that his “charm offensive” is likely to be a “waste of time and money” if he doesn’t tell his “employees in Washington DC” about his views on India.

It has been a difficult time for foreign e-market places in India with opposition from local traders and the indigenous lobby tightening scrutiny over their operations as well as raising doubts over the firms’ alleged violations of restrictions placed under the revised contours of the FDI policy.

New rules came into effect from 1 February 2019, setting restrictions on entities linked to e-commerce companies selling their goods in the marketplace.

Ahead of Bezos’ visit, anti-trust regulator, Competition Commission of India, also started a probe against Amazon and Flipkart to see if these marketplaces offer deep discounts killing competition.


Also read: Indian protests & probe against Amazon: Right message to investors in a slowing economy?


 

ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

13 Comments Share Your Views

13 COMMENTS

  1. First demonetization, then ill planned GST, intolerance and and cow politics, harassing dalits and minorities, next CAA/NCR, now this very wrong signal to foreign investors in the midst of an economic crisis of mammoth proportions.

    The list keeps getting bigger and bigger. The blunders and stubbornness of the current BJP government is an abject lesson on how not to govern a country.

  2. Where did Print go when Rahul Gandhi was bashing corporates before elections? Suddenly they become angels? Your agenda driven politics is well known to us.

  3. Its Not about creating one or ten million jobs. In the process if they are killing another 10 million jobs of local retailer and their livelihood; its farce and misleading investment. Good job, let Amazon be xposed soon

  4. Delhi Elections are the obvious cue. Given half a chance BJP will even restore the old Last point Tax system in Delhi, which enabled traders to avoid paying taxes by showing fictitious resale and get by with issuing a form E.
    For decades Banias and Telis of the BJP enriched themselves. Online retail will break this rent-seeking behaviour. BJP would love to pander to these crooks.

  5. Why are you calling it a regime…is this the leftist propaganda machine. Also did he seek any meetings with Indian officials…a simple contact to his office and to RTI would know if that has happened.

  6. Adding to my earlier comment, just as businesses can be successful only if they are scalable, personal success also requires scalability. This personal scalability can either come from a spirit of entrepreneurship, what is called as intrinsic motivation, or is provided by entrepreneurial and established firms. Those who watched Mrs Sudha Murthy’s episode on Kaun Banega Crorepati will understand this. There has to be a JRD for a Sudha to be born. And there has to be a PVN Rao – MMS team for a Narayan Murthy to come of age.

  7. Piyush misunderstands the word favor. It is not like Modi-Ambani deal. No chai ka churcha. Plain business deal. Take it or leave it. Bezoos’ can easily leave w/o your invite or favor.

  8. What do companies like Amazon, Ikea and Walmart do apart from chasing profits and extracting income? They create jobs. What kind of a job do they create? Shopfloor, warehousing, security, logistics etc. Now, if a small kirana shop (typical father-son shops) where the young son is sitting idle (swatting flies) with no extraordinary purpose, vision, and learning at the shop counter gets shunted into a new kind of job, is there anything wrong with it? For all you know, some of these kirana shop kids might end up pursuing higher education, and rising within the ranks.

    Personal experience: I grew up watching the ironing man (dhobi) in my colony from a young man turning into a middle-aged man (a journey of over 30 years), as I ventured out for higher education and then visited my home from postings in other cities. On one of my visits, his son, who was turning 20, came to me and asked me for a reference for a job of a cashier in a large mall that had come up near our home at the turn of the century. I had seen his father doing nothing but honest hard work all his life, and I gave the boy a nice reference letter talking about his father’s background and integrity, and then forgot about it. On my next visit home, I ended up in that mall with my wife for her shopping (typical trailing patient husband) and this boy appeared with a big smile on his face. He had got the job at the mall. He thanked me and offered to get us a discount as he was entitled as an employee. I don’t know what that young man is doing now, but I do know that had it not been for a thriving private sector, this person would have been languishing just like his father.

  9. Not much turns on a meeting taking place or not taking place. Ease of doing business really means no one needs to meet / lobby with the folks who matter. Feel free to set up your vada paav stall on any unencumbered part of the pavement, for we are like that only. Not for me to judge whether the deep discounts firms like Amazon / Flipkart are sustainable or constitute a fair business practice. 2. America does not have a Jute / Jhoot press. Amazon lost a $ 10 billion cloud computing contract of the US government to Microsoft possibly because the Washington Post speaks truth to President Trump. Unrealistic to expect it to defer to our sensibilities. 3. We are getting into a slightly paranoid bunker mindset. Everyone is out to get us. No longer interested in joining trade groupings like RCEP or TPP. Apne ghar mein baith kar khush hain. Sookhi daal roti khayenge.

    • US govt.requires a Financial Disclosure form, duly filled and filed every year from the level of under secretary on up at every departments in the govt. involved in major purchasing. No exception. and No Rafael issues there.

  10. If Modi had met Adani or Ambani, he is favouring Corporate companies. When he does not meet the owner of WaPo which is known for it’s rabid anti-India Pro-Left stance, He is rude. Shekhar Coupta neeeds to get a anti-hypocrisy vaccine and get well soon. A Haschke milkshake would help him recover faster.

  11. We have already killed the neighborhood KIRANA SHOPs by allowing the HYPER/ SUPER MARKETS to put their set up all over India. There is no innovative business module by any INDIAN companies after INDEPENDENCE. All these guys just become s a copy cat of the western entities even though they have a huge investment capacity. By ignoring the foreign investors like AMAZON , you are sending a wrong signal to the business community world over. Do you think this is the way you are going to reshape the already south heading economical disaster by the present regime? Its pity that the present government is connecting the views of one of the entity of AMAZONs view points with their other business. Every business has their own module and their limitations. You cannot expect just to gain something the other division will just praise the policies of the government keeping aside their ethics in that field. It may happen in our Country. But not overseas. Hope the governors will analyse the ground reality of our countries economical factors and will act accordingly for the best of the present situation demands. Instead, giving cold shoulders to huge investors will further deteriorate the already economical slowdown of our country!!

  12. This richest man darling of Khan market media has not come to help India or Indian government in augmenting economic growth or generation of new employment. The expansion of his business empire in India will render many small retail outlets through out India-not- viable and bring resentment to vast majority of people. The companies like Walmart, Amazons are responsible for reduction of industrial activities in in their own country -USA, as they tend to import from countries like china, Brazil, Indonesia. Spain, etc to earn hefty profits for themselves, This has contributed in a big way decline of manufacturing activity, employment in U S A. They have similar model of business to operate in any country of the world. Their business model and working will bring reduction of industrial activities in host countries. India is not exception. On one hand these are dangerous and tend to eradicate self-employment in retail distribution sector and on other hand by making imports from outside these threaten and unwittingly destroy local industries, Their growth in any developing economy is like a double -edged sword which kills local trade, distribution, local small and medium industries, With vast economic resources they purchase the mind and space of media , pliable bureaucrats ,and of course politician available on the table..Let him keep on talking to his counter parts in business. The government must avoid to welcome these type of business men who may look attractive with the terms -infusion of FDI, but in long run may prove a disaster rather than a mistake .

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here