Under fire in India for alleged predatory pricing, unfair competition and constant dalliance with the laws of the land, Amazon has taken the lead in providing relief amidst the rampaging COVID-19 wave II.
According to US-India Business Council (USIBC) officials, Amazon will coordinate ventilator distribution from the US to India under the USIBC umbrella. As a first step, Amazon Inc has already brought 100 ventilators (each costing $30,000-40,000) for distribution in India.
It has offered other USIBC members to handle logistics at its own cost for any ventilators US companies may wish to send to India.
Earlier, on April 25, Amazon announced it had brought in 1,500 oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines from Singapore to donate to hospitals and public institutions. Another 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines had been brought in collaboration with Temasek Foundation, ACT Grants and Pune Platform for COVID-19 Response (PPCR). Amazon has also borne the cost of airlifting the latter from Singapore via Air India and other carriers. It will also handle the local logistics for distributing these from airports to local hospitals and institutions within India.
"COVID-19 has severely impacted India in unimaginable ways. We stand firmly with the country, deploying our global logistics network to urgently airlift the needed oxygen concentrators to support the nation's immediate need. We continue to explore other meaningful ways to help in saving lives and are committed to supporting the nation in this time of crisis." says Amit Agarwal, Global SVP and Country Head, Amazon India.
Amazon is going through a rough patch in India. The global retail giant has come under fire after internal documents uncovered by news agency Reuters in February revealed how the company altered its corporate structure to avoid government guidelines in India for regulating e-commerce players and protecting small traders. The internal documents had shown that Amazon favoured a small cabal of sellers. There were instances of Amazon handing them discounted fees and helping one cut special deals with big tech manufacturers, as well as over 35 per cent of total sales until 2019 to two sellers.
The internal documents even included a briefing note prepared for former Amazon.com Inc's executive Jay Carney that called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "simple, logical, and straightforward", and "not an intellectual" who relies on "strong administration and governance" to run his government.
The Enforcement Directorate had said that it will examine the allegations against Amazon, The agency had claimed these developments were not entirely new for it, without divulging further details. In response, Amazon had claimed that the allegations against it were unsubstantiated, incomplete, factually incorrect.
Amazon is already under the ED's scanner for alleged violation of foreign investment rules. The company faced a probe by the Competition Commission of India in January, along with Walmart-owned Flipkart, over disrupting markets for offline retailers with steep discounts. The probe, however, was put on hold in February.