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Government sets up committee to launch desi Amazon

The Indian government has appointed several members to provide policy oversight for its upcoming e-commerce platform.

twitter-logoShubham Verma | November 27, 2020 | Updated 18:52 IST

Highlights

  • Government has formed a committee to see the development of its own e-commerce platform.
  • The government is setting up the platform to curb malpractices on e-commerce platforms right now.
  • The name and launch date for this e-commerce platform are not known.

The e-commerce business in India has grown exponentially over recent years. So have fraudulent activities, causing people inconvenience. The government has time and again amended policies to curb this, but this time the Centre is getting more serious than ever. The Indian government has formed a new steering committee that will look after the development of a government-based e-commerce platform. Consider it an equivalent to Amazon but with strict rules that will be aimed at minimising malpractices.

The new committee, set up by the Commerce Ministry, will provide oversight on the policy for the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), which is an e-commerce platform that the government is backing for the development. The ONDC will serve as the infrastructure for setting up the final storefront, which will be something like Flipkart and Amazon. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under the Ministry of Commerce, issued the order on November 24, a copy of which was seen by Medianama.

Who all will form this committee?

This committee, according to the publication citing the order, will be constituted of eleven members, including Confederation of All India Traders' general secretary Praveen Khandelwal, who has even confirmed his appointment among three other members. These will be the committee members, according to the order:

  • Joint Secretary, DPIIT as the Chairman of the committee
  • Representative from Government e-Market (GeM)
  • Representative from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
  • Representative from the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Representative from the NITI Aayog
  • Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India
  • Dilip Asbe, chief executive officer, National Payments Corporation of India
  • Suresh Seth, CEO, NSDL
  • Arvind Gupta, founder of MyGov
  • Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general, Confederation of All India Traders
  • Representatives from the Retailers Association of India

The order states that the steering committee "will initially build consensus throughout the organisation and then once the project gets underway, will ensure that the project continues to meet the set vision, goals, and objectives," Medianama said in its report.

Why is the government launching its own e-commerce platform?

The simplest way to answer would be to redevelop the e-commerce ecosystem of the country that has been plagued with malicious activities, hampering the growth of platforms and discouraging buyers. This is one of the reasons why the government is so insistent on creating a standalone infrastructure to restart e-commerce activities in India from a new point.

But there are several other reasons behind this decision to create the 'Desi Amazon'. The brick and mortar stores across the country have unanimously decried the unfair practices employed by e-commerce platforms to lure customers -- something that retailers cannot possibly counter practically.

The traders across India have voiced their agony over the uneven level playing field in the market for the selling of goods. These methods include predatory pricing, deep discounts, and exclusive sales that are an outcome of a partnership with the brand. The logistics and inventory practices of online commerce companies are also under the scanner.

The government is finding a solution for these problems, at least to maintain a level playing field. The preference of the platform for shopping will lie with customers but only when they are getting exposed to all the available options there are in the market.

How good is the Desi Amazon going to be?

For now, I am not sure what the government has planned for this e-commerce platform. But going by the set of rules the government has sought for this e-commerce company, there will be a huge representation of traders operational across India. This is similar to how Amazon offers various benefits under the Amazon Seller services, although on a profit-sharing basis. The profit-sharing may not exist on the government-backed e-commerce platform.

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