How CAIT and Praveen Khandelwal are railing against e-commerce platforms | Latest News India

The Confederation of All India Traders, or CAIT, has all the time had an opinion (and not hesitated to make itself heard), particularly on issues regarding small retail shops, however in recent times, the business-association-and-lobby-group, which works out of a small office in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, and its head, Praveen Khandelwal, have change into necessary and influential voices within the area.

Their present goal is Amazon’s India arm. CAIT and Khandelwal have lengthy railed against e-commerce platforms and the way in which through which they drawback small retailers — ironical partly as a result of some 30,000 of CAIT’s members are themselves on such platforms — however after a Reuters report final week alleged that the e-commerce big systematically ripped off Indian items and manipulated search outcomes to spice up gross sales, their efforts have accelerated.

Last Wednesday’s Reuters report, based mostly on a trove of inside Amazon paperwork confirmed that, “at least in India, manipulating search results to favour Amazon’s products, as well as copying other sellers’ goods, were part of a formal strategy at Amazon and that at least two senior executives had reviewed it”. In response, Amazon stated: “We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.”

Khandelwal instructions a large 80-million military of Indian pop-and-mom store-owners, a bastion of voters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart dominate the Indian e-commerce area, though India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has plans to dominate the Indian retail area, offline and on-line. According to a March 2021 report by monetary know-how agency FIS (Fidelity National Information Services Inc), the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the nation’s e-commerce market, anticipated to develop 84% to achieve $111 billion by 2024. India’s e-commerce market is about to clock $100-120 billion in gross merchandise worth with 300-350 million buyers by 2025, one other latest report by Bain and Co. stated.

Following the Reuters report, Khandelwal’s organisation of small merchants has referred to as for an in depth federal probe into Amazon’s “unfair practices”.

India just lately introduced in a number of modifications in how e-commerce platforms do business; at the very least a few of these are believed to be influenced by Indian Main Street sellers led by Khandelwal’s CAIT.

In June, the Union authorities proposed substantive modifications in the way in which e-commerce platforms, comparable to Amazon and Flipkart, function, by a draft to amend the Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules 2020.

The draft proposes higher scrutiny of flash gross sales, enhanced legal responsibility of e-commerce websites, information safety for shoppers, and stronger grievance redressal. The draft guidelines outlaw flash gross sales – prompt, unannounced gross sales that normally accompany reductions – that are “manipulated” to offer benefit or preferential remedy to a selected vendor or a bunch of sellers.

The new modifications additionally make it essential to deal with Indian sellers and producers on a par with world retailers, whereas all merchandise should show their nation of origin – a transfer stated to be impressed by Modi’s “Aatmanirbhar”, or self-reliance, marketing campaign.

“The key thing always is to ensure fair competition. But frequently shifting the goalposts don’t do much good. I view the new stipulations on flash sales, for instance, as part of an old mindset that deny consumers the benefit of low pricings,” stated Pradeep Mehta, a shopper rights professional who was consulted by the NDA authorities whereas drafting the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2019.

Yet Khandelwal is waging a conflict against what he calls are “unfair trade practices” of e-commerce giants and lobbies with federal authorities to convey stricter guidelines, although extra and extra shoppers are turning to on-line sellers.

Khandelwal has all the time lobbied for pursuits of small shopkeepers by his organisation, however Inc’s Jeff Bezos has become a bete noire. Few can match the American big, howeverKhandelwal is testing the waters for a homegrown e-commerce platform being referred to as Bharat E Market, a enterprise nationalist supporters of the BJP are hailing.

“We are struggling against unfair trade practices and it is also a question of survival of small shopkeepers. There is nothing political,” he stated. But there are telltale indicators of his affect, together with a big {photograph} of him and the Prime Minister Modi in his office.

“People say I am against Jeff Bezos. No, I am against unfair trade practices. Reliance is now getting into the market. They are welcome as long as they play by the rules,” he says. He rounded off his views on Ambani’s Reliance with a remark he didn’t clarify additional: “It is better that companies like Reliance should stay where their core competencies lie.”

Covid-19 has hit small companies the toughest and though India nonetheless seeks international capital to spur development and kicked off a large privatisation agenda, e-commerce giants comparable to Flipkart and Amazon are solely consolidating their positions because the pandemic stamped out brick-and-mortar procuring.

In the primary 4 days of festive gross sales that started on October 2, 2021, Flipkart and Amazon India amassed $2.7 billion in gross sales, together with early entry for premium members, in accordance with estimates from consultancy RedSeer Consulting, HT’s sister publication Mint reported.

Bezos introduced a large $2 billion funding in India throughout his second go to to India in India. In January 2020, India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal stated of Amazon that “it’s not as if they are doing a great favour to India when they invest a billion dollars”.

Lobbying by the likes of Khandelwal has ensured safeguards distinctive to India in terms of e-commerce guidelines. Unlike in different markets, Amazon India can’t promote its personal stock on to prospects on its platform in India, a transfer meant to guard the pursuits of merchants CAIT speaks for.

Also Read | E-commerce: A story that includes Amazon, Elizabeth Warren, Indian retail, and GOI

To sidestep curbs on own-inventory promoting, Amazon shaped Cloudtail, a JV between Amazon Asia and a enterprise capital agency of Infosys founder, NR Narayana Murthy. But in August 2021, maybe due to all of the scrutiny on the area, the 2 companions introduced that they had been ending their seven-year-old partnership by subsequent May.

Amazon has additionally discovered itself on the radar of theRashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the idealogical mother or father of the BJP. A Sept 26 difficulty of Panchjanya, the RSS’s weekly journal, likened Amazon to the East India Company and the Indian authorities is wanting into reviews that Amazon’s Indian arm could have paid bribes to authorities officers.

Amazon India says the e-commerce platform has helped convey effectivity to small sellers. In an April assertion, it stated: “Since inception, Amazon has cumulatively digitized 2.5 million MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), driven exports worth $3 billion and created 1 million jobs in India.”

Despite all his political affect, Khandelwal, a rich dealer of {hardware} gadgets, who threatened that CAIT would go on strike against the $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart, was unable to cease the deal.

But in January 2020, the Competition Commission of India, launched an investigation into Amazon and Flipkart for influencing gross sales by deep reductions.

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