Indian weekly magazine Panchjanya’s cover story has stirred a conspiracy. The issue’s cover has a picture of Jeff Bezos with the text “#Amazon East India Company 2.0”. The cover further accuses Amazon of bribery, calling it a danger to indigenous business and economic freedom.
The magazine’s editor, Hitesh Shankar, also posted a video on Twitter, saying that Amazon’s business methods have led to the ‘murder’ of multiple Indian brands. Drawing similarities between Amazon and the East India Company, Mr. Shankar also claims that Amazon’s insiders are talking about its use of unethical methods to expand its business.
Panchjanya Goes After Amazon India
For the uninitiated, Panchjanya is an Indian weekly magazine backed by the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). While the magazine’s attack compares Amazon to British colonial rule in India, the comparison has been backed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
Amazon has issued a statement in its defense saying, “During the pandemic, three lakh new sellers joined us… of which 75,000 were local neighborhood shops from 450+ cities, (selling) furniture, stationery, consumer electronics, beauty products, mobile phones, garments, medical products.”
Mr. Shankar’s Twitter video also says that Amazon’s OTT platform, Prime Video, has been the reason for public outrage on social media. Recently, multiple Indian web series on Amazon Prime were subjected to protests, demanding the removal of certain scenes.
Amazon and its competitor Flipkart are currently facing antitrust lawsuits in India. Both e-commerce platforms have been on the Competition Commission of India’s radar since an Indian traders group filed a complaint in 2020. Amazon has been accused of backing certain large sellers and borderline circumventing the Indian foreign direct investment laws.
Earlier in February, a Reuters report revealed that Amazon’s business tactics were hurting Indian businesses. Shortly after this report, the CCI antitrust case tightened its grip around the e-commerce platform. Following this case, Amazon severed ties with Cloudtail, which is one of its largest sellers.
Amazon is defending its position in India by saying that it has over 70,000 exporters from tier II, III, and IV cities in India, exporting made-in-India products to 200 countries. An NDTV report says the Indian government has distanced itself from the Panchjanya article, with the Finance Minister calling it ‘not right.’