The Return of License Raj: E-Commerce Policy behind Decoding India’s D (R)

As one smart businessman once said, data is new oil.

Where does the journey begin?

And then he said it again and again and again. Until the phrase takes on a life of its own. A sort of opportunistic chant in the public nation hall in corporate boardrooms, bureaucracy and government corridors. Until the draft National Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce in India was incorporated. Or simply put, a policy document that has been in the works for the past few months for regulating e-commerce.

Earlier this week, the draft e-commerce policy document emerged. There is a copy at Ken. Its contents, read as recommendations, only make for important reading. Below are important notes from the 19-page document. This part is dense, but read on, so you’re ready for what’s coming next.

  1. We don’t know what electronic commerce is. So a definition for policy design is adopted.
  2. The data is oil. So steps will be taken to promote data storage in India. One way is tax benefits, a reduction in custom tariffs.
  3. Whether shopping for social media for search engines, the data generated by users in India from all sources is stored exclusively in India. The government accesses this data for national security and public policy goals, subject to confidentiality, compliance and so on.
  4. Improving the use and visibility of a vague state-owned payment system called RuPay by mandating its listing as an option in e-commerce transactions. Currently, Rupee is seen as a poor man’s card.
  5. Adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a biometric based information authentication technology for payments.
  6. Creating a social credit database through a public-private partnership to facilitate digital lending.
  7. Establish an e-commerce retail platform specifically for small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), vendors and suppliers. Solving their financial problems to help them sell online. Encourages online platforms to get more MSMEs on board. Helps MSMEs get data analytics, among other things, to sell online.
  8. Giving more teeth to the Enforcement Directorate to follow up on those who violated Press Note 3 The note talks about the regulation of foreign investment in e-commerce.
  9. Amend the Companies Act to allow entrepreneurs to have control over their e-commerce companies through differential voting rights, despite a minority stake.
  10. Prohibiting bulk buying of electronics, white goods and branded fashion items by related party vendors. This is to stop the price distortions in the market.
  11. Restriction on the e-commerce marketplace to influence the prices of products sold on their platforms.
    The limit on in-depth discounts, especially the period when e-commerce marketplaces can offer deep discounts.
    Create a level playing field for foreign and domestic e-commerce companies.
  12. Give the Competition Commission of India (CCI) more teeth to change regulations and stop competition from mergers and acquisitions. This includes the provision of access to data.
  13. Establishment of Central Consumer Protection Authority to control e-commerce companies and all issues related to them.
  14. Establishment of e-consumer courts to examine consumer disputes.
    Power of the Government of India to obtain source code to investigate unfair trade practices, fraud and compliance with laws in India.
  15. Implementation of a substantial financial presence as the basis for determining the permanent establishment and acquisition of tax in the country between multinationals and related parties in India.
  16. That’s all there is to it. Now.

If you’re struggling for a word to describe what you’ve just read, help is at hand. The word license is Raj.

Binny Bansal, CEO and co-founder of Flipkart, said some of the proposals, such as filing an IPO for Indian startups and increased spending on data center infrastructure, will benefit the entire Indian Internet ecosystem. “But others need to be discussed much more because some of the proposals will definitely scare FDI investors from India and stunt growth of the internet sector,” Bansal told Ken.