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In what may come as a relief, the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has asked ecommerce companies to submit a list of limited items that can be considered as essentials.
The move follows apprehensions expressed by ecommerce majors following the center’s caveat issued on April 19 which threw a spanner on their plans to resume full operations. The Center’s move seems to be spurred by the new work-from-home trend followed by most offices.
Once the list is submitted, DPIIT will forward it to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for a final nod. For the time being, the ecommerce companies are looking to start delivery of work-from-home essentials like internet routers, chargers, laptops, tablets, and stationeries.
Meanwhile, social media platforms like Twitter are abuzz over what constitutes essential and non-essential items.
Electricians are essential, but he needs parts to repair fan which aren’t seen essential
WFH is essential but I can’t but a new laptop (my old laptop conked off)
— Rajesh Sawhney (@rajeshsawhney) April 20, 2020
The MHA had earlier allowed ecommerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Shopclues to resume delivery of both essential and non-essential items from April 20.
Why Was The Previous List Scrapped?
The MHA’s U-turn on April 19 was mainly due to protests by local retailers and traders, who believed that the move would be unfair for them. Local traders believed allowing ecommerce to resume operations was unfair, while brick-and-mortar stores were only allowed to resume operations from May 3 after the lockdown is slated to be eased. Local retailers emphasised on the need for a “level playing field” between ecommerce players and brick-and-mortar stores.
Meanwhile, MHA spokesperson also clarified that the list of items ecommerce players were being allowed to deliver turned out to be too extensive. The ministry believed that easing norms would dilute the lockdown imposed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
States Plans To Resume Delivery Halted?
Though MHA had earlier allowed ecommerce companies to resume all their operation, it maintained that state governments will give the final nod on which areas can be serviced to ensure compliance with rules of social distancing.
Following this order, Maharashtra, Odisha and Tamil Nadu allowed delivery of non-essential items, along with essential items, from April 20. Whereas Karnataka, Telangana and Haryana are considering to do so this week.
Meanwhile, Karnataka’s deputy chief minister C N Ashwath Narayan had specified that with work-from-home becoming a norm, the demand for computers and other related hardware devices and products has risen. Therefore, it was important for ecommerce companies to resume services for efficient working.
However, Maharashtra which revised the list of essential items to include groceries, foods, pharmaceutical products, electronics and electrical appliances went back following MHA’s U-turn.
Meanwhile, trade association of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing industry NASSCOM urged the central government to resume ecommerce operations completely.
We thank MHA for the comprehensive advisory on opening up the economy in a phased manner.
As states work on their way forward plans, we recommend the following steps to be taken for opening up the #ecommerce sector:@rsprasad pic.twitter.com/KXrLPctBIj
— NASSCOM (@nasscom) April 15, 2020
With DPIIT’s move to discuss on what constitutes essential and non-essential goods, hope floats that ecommerce companies may be able to cater to the new needs of the quarantined Indian.