Amazon’s India headache is turning into a throbbing migraine: Andy Mukherjee

(Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. This column first appeared in NDTV on September 30, 2021)

  • The world’s second-richest man is getting an almost-daily reminder of how tough it will be to win in the second-most-populous nation. Unlike in China, where the recent attack on tech titans has been delivered with the full formal might of state power, the latest blow on Amazon.com Inc. in India has come from unexpected, and unofficial, quarters. Chairman Jeff Bezos is on the cover of Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly he’s unlikely to have ever heard of. The article inside, provocatively titled “East India Company 2.0”, goes on to argue that Amazon is threatening the economic freedom of small Indian traders, attempting to hijack policies and politics, and – via Prime Video – degrading Hindu culture and promoting Western values and Christianity. There can be nothing flattering in being compared to the 17th-century British firm that came to trade with a rich, vast land only to end up conquering and plundering it. But does the opprobrium really mean much? Both Bezos and his empire have faced robust criticism around the world, for everything from low pay and poor working conditions in the retailer’s warehouses to its alleged anti-competitive practices…

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