Ecommerce giant Amazon which is gearing up for its ‘Great Indian Festival’ in early October, has been labelled as ‘East India Company 2.0’ by ‘Panchjanya’, a weekly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
As per a PTI report, in its latest edition which is likely to hit the magazine stands on October 3 (which is also the kicking-off date for Amazon’s festive day sale), Panchjanya has carried a cover story on Amazon, alleging that the ecommerce giant has “paid large sums of money as bribes to government officials to tweak government policies for its own benefits”.
Titled as “East India Company 2.0”, the story said that back in the 18th century whatever the East India Company did to capture India, the same is visible in the activities of Amazon. The story alleged that Amazon wants to establish its monopoly in the Indian market and is taking initiatives for “seizing the economic, political and personal freedom of the Indian citizens.”
It is worth noting that Amazon has been under the radar of India’s anti-competitive watchdog – The Competition Commission of India (CCI) for its alleged anti-competitive practices. Last month, the Supreme Court gave its nod for CCI to begin its probe into both Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart for the same. Both Flipkart and Amazon have reached the apex court with a hope to find a respite after Karnataka HC had given its approval for a CCI probe. On August 9, 2021, the apex court said it expects big companies like Amazon and Flipkart to voluntarily go for enquiry.
The order to probe into Flipkart and Amazon for alleged anti-competitive practices was passed by the CCI in January 2020 based on a complaint filed by the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh (DMV), a union of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The body had alleged both Amazon and Flipkart of favouring certain sellers, exclusive partnership, heavy discounting, and predatory pricing.
In the cover story, Panchjanya has also taken a dig at Amazon Prime Video, the streaming platform of the ecommerce giant. The story mentioned that the web series and movies available on Prime video are against Indian culture.
Over the years, several government officials and people have hit out at OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Alt Balaji, among others for showing content that is allegedly inappropriate. The most recent was from Mukesh Rajput, a Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad constituency. During the monsoon session he said that web series have been showing obscene content that cannot be seen with the entire family.
He said that since the time cinema halls have shut due to the pandemic, OTT platforms have been on a spree releasing web series that have made a bad influence on society.
In order to keep a check on the shows available on the streaming platforms, the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules 2021, which were brought in effect from May 25, 2021, seeks OTT platforms to self-classify its content into five-age -based categories such as U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A16+, and A (adult). As per the new rules, OTT platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
The new rules also ask for the formation of a self-regulatory body which shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a high court or an independent eminent person.