After the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-linked journal Panchjanya called e-commerce giant Amazon 'East India Company 2.0', the company issued a statement on Monday, 27 September, highlighting how several Indian exporters, who had joined Amazon's exports programme, were now selling crores of 'Made in India' products to over 200 countries in the world, NDTV reported.
Earlier, Panchjanya had referred to reports of bribery allegations against Amazon’s Indian legal representatives, which had surfaced on 20 September, and asked, “What did it (the company) do wrong it needed to bribe... Why do people consider this company a threat to indigenous entrepreneurship, economic freedom and culture?" NDTV reported.
This fresh attack comes weeks after the Hindi weekly had accused India's leading IT corporation, Infosys, of being aligned with 'anti-national forces'.
75,000 Local Neighbourhood Shops Joined Us During the Pandemic: Amazon
In its statement, the e-commerce giant pointed out how Amazon's exports programme was benefiting Indian sellers.
"During the pandemic three lakh new sellers joined us... of which 75,000 were local neighbourhood shops (dukaans) from 450+ cities (selling) furniture, stationery, consumer electronics, beauty products, mobile phones, garments, medical products," the statement said.
Stating that Amazon's exports programme was witnessing rapid momentum, it further said, "Today there are 70,000+ exporters from metros as well as Tier II, III and IV cities, selling crores of 'made in India' products to customers in 200 countries across the world - truly taking (it) global."
Whatever the Sangh Says Is Irrelevant: Congress
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera on Monday, 27 September, said the allegations against Amazon are "very serious" and "cannot be ignored".
"The issue of Amazon is a serious one and it merits everybody's attention," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
However, he said that whatever the "RSS says about Amazon is irrelevant because there is a duet going on between the RSS and the BJP", PTI reported.
"We have seen that duet and they stand exposed in the farmers' agitation. We have seen the dubious role played by the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh as it has not come in support of the farmers even for one day in the last 10 months," he said.
"Nobody takes what the RSS says seriously anymore, because they do not speak the language in national interest, they talk in the interest of the BJP," he added.
'East India Company 2.0'
As reported by The Indian Express, Panchjanya's cover story titled “East India Company 2.0” says, “Actually, Amazon too wants to have sole rights on the Indian market. For this it has started taking steps to encircle the political, economic and individual freedom of people here. It is accused of floating shell companies to capture the e-market platform, of bribing to have policies in its favor, and of airing programmes opposed to Indian culture through Prime Videos”.
Bribery Allegations Against Amazon's Legal Representatives
A report by The Morning Context had earlier stated that Amazon has undertaken a probe against some of its legal representatives who allegedly bribed Indian government officials, adding that the American giant's senior corporate panel has also been sent on leave in this matter.
According to sources quoted by PTI, six entities of Amazon paid Rs 3,420 crore in India during 2018-19 and Rs 5,126 crore during 2019-20 towards legal fees, a claim which Amazon has denied.
Amazon had said, "We have zero tolerance for corruption. We take allegations of improper actions seriously, investigate them fully, and take appropriate action."
Later on 22 September, Amazon denied reports which claimed Amazon to have spent around Rs 8,500 crore as legal fees over the past few years.
“Given a misleading representation of a line item from a statutory filings on legal fees in a section of the media, we clarify that the line item is actually termed legal and professional expenses that includes not just the legal costs but also the costs related to other professional services such as outsourcing, customer research, logistic support services, merchant onboarding services, customer service cost, etc. For instance, for the year ended March 2020, the legal fee was Rs 52 crore,” The Times of India reported.
Attack on Infosys
In early September, Panchjanya in its cover story had accused Infosys of being aligned with the 'anti-national forces' such as the 'Naxals, leftists and tukde tukde gang', for the glitches in the Income Tax Department's new e-filing portal designed by the company.
Taking to Twitter, Sunil Ambekar, the All-India publicity in-charge of RSS, had said that the article published in Panchjanya reflected "individual opinion of the author".
(With inputs from PTI, NDTV, The Indian Express and The Times of India.)