Indian Sellers Collective Urges N.R. Narayana Murthy to End Partnership with Amazon

  • Exhorts Murthy to join the fight against Amazon to show all Indians that the poster boy of corporate India, is not a Valmiki who turned into Ratnakar
  • Foreign retailers finding creative routes to flout India’s retail FDI laws: Swadeshi Jagran Manch

 New Delhi

Indian Sellers Collective, a non-governmental trade association committed to bringing to the fore the voices of micro and small enterprises and family businesses across India, has written an open letter to NR Narayana Murthy urging him to end partnership with Amazon for Cloudtail India. The letter states that for years, Murthy, has been the idol of millions of Indians and more than leading Infosys and the Indian IT services revolution for India, his greatest achievement has been his adherence to the dharma of straight and the narrow and constant emphasis on honesty, integrity, fairness, values and transparency. However, this is changing since 2014, when Murthy has been in cahoots with Amazon through a name-lending arrangement with Cloudtail acting as a front for Amazon’s retail business and defied the objectives of the policies of the Government of India. Just for a fixed fee or returns, Murthy has sacrificed the interests and livelihood of millions of small traders in India and left them at the mercy of Amazon.

The letter states that Cloudtail India has been the largest seller on Amazon India.  On paper, this arrangement does not flout India’s FDI regulations, however, in reality, it is the mysterious Hober Mallow Trust that actually owns and controls Cloudtail. Some signs are clear – the senior leadership of Cloudtail as well as majority of board members of Cloudtail are all former Amazon employees. In 2018, the government amended the laws to stop these practices of foreign retailers forming front companies to carry out retailing and Murthy promptly increased his stake to 74% but changed nothing else.

Through the letter the group reminded Murthy how in 1994 at Infosys, he courageously and famously walked away from his biggest client based on the conviction of his principles, and urged him to set another example in 2021, by invoking the spirit of his 1994 act by walking away from the mess that Amazon has entangled him in. The letter urges Murthy to do this for the sake of all Indians across the world, so that the world realizes that one of our tallest corporate stalwarts, is not a Valmiki who turned into Ratnakar.

Reacting on the issue, Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convener, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch said,

“Foreign retailers operating ecommerce marketplaces in India have been finding creative routes to flout India’s retail FDI laws. This is a cause of worry among the Indian seller community, necessitating a need for continuous strengthening of the policies governing Indian e-commerce. Amazon India, through arrangements with companies like NR Narayana Murthy’s Cloudtail is indulging in predatory pricing and discounting thereby destroying the business of offline retailers and small sellers.”

Explaining the letter Abhay Raj Mishra, President, Public Response Against Helplessness and Action for Redressal (PRAHAR) said, “Foreign ecommerce retailers operating in India have time and again mocked the spirit of the law while following the letter of the spirit. Amazon’s covert understanding with Cloudtail, a majority company of NR Narayana Murthy is one such glaring example. A stalwart like Narayana Murthy should reconsider his decision to be part of this arrangement and once again demonstrate to India that business gains are not above reputation. Indian Sellers Collective therefore requests him to take a stand and join India’s fight against Amazon and show to all Indians that the poster boy of corporate India, is not a Valmiki who turned into Ratnakar.”

AIOVA spokesperson stated, “It is sad to see Murthy associating himself with an economic terrorist called Cloudtail which crushes thousands of e-commerce sellers inspired by the successes of Murthy.”

Dhairyashi H. Patil, President, All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation (AICPD), said, “NR Narayana Murthy has been the biggest proponent of “fairness, transparency, and accountability” in the working of corporate India. He is our tallest corporate stalwart, and we admire him for his honesty and integrity. He must once again rise to the occasion and come clean on his alliance with Amazon India and the Hober Mallow Trusts and Catamaran.”

Shriram Baxi, General Secretary, Federation of All India Distributors Associations (FAIDA), ”India as a nation can survive and grow only if there are enough employment opportunities for its population. Today, despite making significant progress in the areas of science and technology, our country faces the real risk of sinking into anarchy as the livelihood issues of the common man are under threat/not addressed. Cash-rich entrepreneurs in the country are over-ambitious. They are using smart tactics to evade the laws. We must stop them in their tracks before they push people into slavery the way East India Company did years ago. It is high time that our lawmakers understand the urgency of the problem, review regulations, and undertake necessary policy reforms to ensure harsh penalties and punishments for lawbreakers. They must review all business tie-ups to understand their impact on improving the lives of the common man. Indians believe in hard work and it is the responsibility of the government to work towards their betterment as the real development is about increasing people’s choices to lead a better life with unhindered access to livelihood opportunities and education.”