Amazon’s aggressive expansion in India has kickstarted an e-commerce boom in a country where hundreds of millions of people have rapidly come online through cheap smartphones and data plans in the last few years, and where most people outside urban areas do not have access to large retail chains. But it has also angered millions of small brick-and-mortar businesses, who say that Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, which dominate online shopping in the country, are affecting their livelihoods by using their deep pockets to heavily discount products and undercut traditional retailers.
Small business owners in the country have also accused online retailers like Amazon of violating the country’s foreign investment laws. …They’ve also accused the companies of striking deals with smartphone makers that force them to sell their devices online exclusively and not in traditional retail stores.
…“The goal of Amazon and Flipkart is to bring in crony capitalism in India, dominate and monopolize the market, wipe out the competition, and leave consumers with no choice,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal told BuzzFeed News at the protest site. Khandelwal claimed that over 100,000 small retailers had been driven out of business thanks to Amazon and Flipkart’s deep discounting in the last four months alone.
…When asked about Bezos’ latest billion-dollar investment to digitize India’s small and medium businesses, Khandelwal said that cash infusion was to help Amazon continue to sell products at a loss by offering large discounts. “They’re trying to build a wrong and a false narrative here,” he said. “That’s not acceptable.”
Jokowi has embraced hardline Islamists and members of the former dictatorial regime. And to make matters worse, he is sidelining political reform, including weakening anti-corruption agencies, in order to push through infrastructure development and please the country’s reactionary forces.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in at least 15 cities across the country, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata on Thursday in a show of nationwide public anger against the law considered by many to be unconstitutional and discriminatory against Muslims.
At least two people died in the protests, which saw violent pitched battles between police and protesters in several cities, including Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow. Police fired tear gas, water cannons and used batons against protesters who pelted stones, vandalized and set fire to buildings and buses. Thousands of people were arrested.
…At the center of the unrest is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed into law last week. The law that promises to fast-track citizenship for non-Muslim religious minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived before 2015.
The government, ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the law will provide safe haven for religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries. Critics say it undermines the country’s secular constitution as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.