Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon Inc and the owner of Washington Post is in India for a tour even as several small traders are planning to stage protests against the retail giant for distorting the local market. India’s antitrust chief Ashok Kumar Gupta told Reuters on Tuesday that big e-commerce companies in India should not offer deep discounts which can potentially hurt and small-scale brick and mortar retailers in India. Amidst the ruckus, Union Minister Piyush Goyal has decided not to meet the WaPo owner Jeff Bezos during his three-day India visit.
The e-commerce player has come under investigations on multiple counts, including deep discounts and exclusive tie-up with preferred sellers, in India. On Monday, in a major setback ahead of Bezos’ India visit, fair market watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) ordered an enquiry into the operations of both Amazon and Flipkart on multiple counts, including deep discounts and exclusive tie-up with preferred sellers.
Finding merit in the allegations levelled by traders” body Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh, the Commission asked its Director General (DG) to complete the investigation in 60 days from the receipt of the order.
However, other than Amazon’s market practices, there could be another crucial feature that has got Minister Piyush Goyal refusing a meeting with Bezos. In 2013, Jeff Bezos had purchased the Washington Post. Recently, Washington Post, owned by Bezos has launched a vicious campaign against India and its internal matters, whether it is the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir or even the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Washington Post harbours a deep-seated and mindless hatred for the Indian Prime Minister and has, on several occasions, written lie-ridden, baseless article to malign India and its ruling, democratically elected dispensation.
Washington Post had rallied against the decision of Gates Foundation to present Narendra Modi with an award for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. They are in staunch opposition of the decision to abrogate Article 370 and also the NRC and are accusing Narendra Modi of committing gross human rights violations.
Suchitra Vijayan and Arjun Singh Sethi, writing for the Washington Post, argue that the Indian Prime Minister’s “Hindu nationalist party has incited violence against minorities, silenced dissent and curtailed freedom of expression.” They add, “In light of Modi’s record, including promoting repressive policies in the past month in Kashmir and the northeastern state of Assam, he should not be given the award.”
The same old tropes were peddled by Washington Post to demonise PM Modi without understanding the historical context of the Kashmir conflict, the India-Pakistan conflict, and, based on complete conjectures and lies.
So biased was there reporting on Kashmir that several Kashmiri Pandits from the USA had decided to demonstrate outside the Washington Post office and had even written a letter of dissent to the Editor taking strong exception to their Kashmir reportage.
“In the historic first, many Kashmiri Americans demonstrated peacefully outside your office against the biased news coverage on Kashmir following the removal of Article 370, a temporary provision governing the Federal state Constitutional relationship of Jammu and Kashmir,” read the memorandum submitted to Martin Beower, the executive editor of Washington Post.
The Kashmiri Pandit group also respectfully requested the Washington Post to publish the contents of this press release to ensure that their readers get a fair and balanced reporting of what has transpired.
“Your coverage has not addressed the dejure lawlessness that existed in the State of J&K due to Article 370 accompanied by Article 35A which supposedly granted special status to the State,” the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said in a memorandum submitted to the Washington Post. “Nowhere in the Washington Post media narratives is their mention that in this lawless State the most heinous genocide was committed against the aboriginal people, the Kashmiri Pandits, resulting in their virtual exile,” the organiser said.
The Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora also accused the daily of fanning religious polarisation in the region through their reporting. “The most dangerous framing of the issue is your reporting in fanning religious polarisation with the use of Hindu-Muslim binary,” said GKPD in its memorandum.
“Washington Post’s biased reporting ignores the inconvenient truth that Article 370 and Article 35A…have denied democratic rights to minorities, women and weaker sections of the society while throttling Kashmir’s economy…(and) Kashmir Valley became breeding ground for rampant corruption, separatism,” said Mohan Sapru, the chief coordinator of the rally.
In fact, after the Ayodhya verdict that gave the ownership rights of Ram Janmabhoomi to Hindus, Washington Post published an article headlined, “India’s Supreme Court endorses right-wing vision relegating Muslims to second-class citizens”. The article was written by hate-monger and fake news peddler Rana Ayyub who has been regularly given a platform by Washington Post without her hateful assertions being verified by the publication at all.
While the Washington post whitewashes even the terrorist-in-chief of ISIS, Al Baghdadi, and call him an “austere religious scholar”. However, when talking about an elected representative in India, Washington Post derides him shamelessly simply because he wears saffron.
Washington Post has had a long history of taking a stand which is diametrically opposed to the interests of India and has been an active participant in spreading propaganda against India, the ruling dispensation and even Hindus.
When asked if Washington Post’s anti-Hindu, anti-India propaganda is the reason for Minister Piyush Goyal’s decision to not meet Jeff Bezos, sources alluded to the fact that this could be one of the main reasons along with Amazon’s faulty trade practices.
It should be kept in mind that Minister Piyush Goyal has on several occasions reiterated the fact that India will not tolerate any trade practises that hurt its local traders. The investigation into Amazon’s trade practices along with the deeply anti-India stand that Washington Post has taken recently is being attributed as the two prime reasons why the minister has refused to meet Jeff Bezos during his three-day India trip.
With the step, the Modi government is clearly signalling that the government is likely to take a zero-tolerance approach to propaganda that is routinely published in the foreign press and such shenanigans come with a cost.