CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, whom the Narendra Modi government refused to receive warmly unlike how it cares for foreign visitors, has said his company would create an additional 10 lakh jobs in India by 2025. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had turned down Bezos’s request for an appointment a month ago, a source said.
“I fall more in love with India every time I return here,” Bezos has said. “We will use Amazon’s global footprint to enable $ 10 billion in exports of Indian products to the rest of the world by 2025. Our investments in India will create an additional 1 million jobs across the country by 2025,” he said today.
When the Amazon CEO announced a $1 billion investment during the first day of his stay in India, Union Industry and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal made light of the announcement, saying: “It’s not as if they are doing a great favour to India.”
“They may have put in a billion dollars but then if they make a loss of a billion dollars every year then they jolly well have to finance that billion dollars. So it’s not as if they are doing a great favour to India when they invest a billion dollars,” Goyal had said yesterday.
Facing flak from economists for insulting an investor at the time of an economic slowdown in the country, Goyal clarified today his comments had been misunderstood. He said, “We welcome all types of investments. But if the foundation of any investment violates law then there will be a legal process. Some people think I said something negative against Amazon. If you look at the context of my statement, I said investment should come within the law and regulations. This process is followed across the world.” The Amazon investment should not create unfair competition to small traders and retail businessmen in India, the minister said.
The government is investigating Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart due to allegations by traders’ lobbies that accuse the foreign e-retailers of predatory pricing, deep discounting, exclusivity and preferential seller treatment.
A source in the Ministry of External Affairs said the government deliberately ignored the world’s richest man, estimated to have a net worth of $115 billion, as the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post had been “desperately critical of the government, making up stories to build a predetermined narrative”. The source added, “Meeting Jeff Bezos cannot be considered the government’s compulsion.”
Goyal has not been the only official in the government who is critical of Amazon on the record. Vijay Chauthaiwale, the BJP’s foreign affairs in-charge, shot back: “Please tell this to your employees in Washington DC. Otherwise, your charm offensive is likely to be a waste of time and money.”
Making it clear why the government snubbed the Amazon CEO, Chauthaiwale said, “I am not opposing Amazon as a company. In fact, I am a regular customer. Jeff Bezos should go home and tell The Washington Post what his impression about India is. The Washington Post editorial policy is highly biased and agenda-driven.”