'Modi is simple, logical, and straightforward': Amazon's Internal Documents Reveals Their Mindset & Dodgy Ways

Amidst recent reports coming on how Amazon favoured big sellers on its India platform – and used them to maneuver around rules meant to protect small retailers, a brief note is making headlines. A briefing note prepared for former Amazon.com Inc's executive Jay Carney, before his meeting with India's ambassador to the United States (US) back in 2019 praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling him "simple, logical, and straightforward".

'Modi is simple, logical, and straightforward': Amazon's Internal Documents Reveals Their Mindset & Dodgy Ways

In early 2019, a senior Amazon.com Inc executive Jay Carney had a meeting with India's ambassador to the United States (US). To prepare for this meeting, Amazon employees prepared a draft note for Carney. 

The briefing note advised Carney on what to say and what not to say during his meeting with Indian ambassador to the US in Washington, D.C., and  is contained in hundreds of internal Amazon documents reported by Reuters.

On PM Modi:

The documents assessed by the agency are dated between 2012 and 2019. They comprise drafts of meeting notes, PowerPoint slides, business reports and emails. One of the notes contains a frank appraisal of Modi's "straight forward" style of thinking, sizing him up as "not an intellectual."

"PM Modi is not an intellectual or an academic but believes that strong administration and governance is the key to running a successful government," the document comprising a brief appraisal of PM Modi revealed.

"He is known to like simple, logical, straightforward thinking without excessive academic jargon," disclosed the internal documents that were leaked and reviewed by the agency.

Small Merchants & Hidden Information:

In 2019, the Department of Industries, Government of India, tightened the FDI rules on ecommerce with a view to providing a level playing field to brick-and-mortar stores. However, as per reports, Amazon found a way around it & have been cherry picking a few merchants & favouring them.

Carney was advised to highlight the fact that Amazon had committed more than $5.5 billion in investment in India and how it provided an online platform for 400,000-plus Indian sellers. But he was cautioned not to divulge that some 33 Amazon sellers accounted for about a third of the value of all goods sold on the company’s website. That information, the note advised, was “Sensitive/not for disclosure.”

Other company documents reveal equally touchy information: Two more sellers on the e-commerce giant’s India platform – merchants in which Amazon had indirect equity stakes – accounted for around 35% of the platform’s sales revenue in early 2019. That meant some 35 of Amazon’s more than 400,000 sellers in India at the time accounted for around two-thirds of its online sales.

This report is vindication for the hundreds of small merchants who've been claiming since long that Amazon has actively kept them out from a level playing field.

Response from Amazon: 

Amazon “does not give preferential treatment to any seller on its marketplace” and “has always complied with the law,” the company said in a written response to questions from Reuters. “The reporting appears based on unsubstantiated, incomplete, and/or factually incorrect information, likely supplied (maliciously) with the intention of creating sensation and discrediting Amazon.” The company added that it “treats all sellers in a fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner, with each seller responsible for independently determining prices and managing their inventory.”

Modi’s office and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry didn’t respond to questions from Reuters.

Amazon has become one of the two biggest e-commerce platforms in India, with close to $10 billion in sales in 2019, according to Forrester Research.