If we literally believe what Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal just said at IAMAI Digital Summit in Delhi, then Patriotism As A Strategy (PaaS) will soon become a norm in Indian corporate sector.
Triggering emotions of nationalism and using patriotism as a defense shield, Sachin Bansal wants the foreign competition to be regulated, and maybe kicked out in order to protect ‘Indian startups’. Referring to competition coming in from China (read Alibaba) and USA (read Amazon), Sachin Bansal has demanded a ‘level playing field’ for all Indian companies.
Expressing his angst over ‘selective globalisation’, he said, “Another big thing that is happening across the world is the rise of anti-globalization… it was all the time in China and US, selective globalisation rather. I meant there should be level playing field..”
Flipkart Doesn’t Want Foreign Competition?
As we had shared earlier, Indian e-commerce is forming a three-way battlefield right now, with US-based Amazon, China-based Alibaba and Flipkart holding their respective grounds.
Due to intense pressure from investors, increasing costs (some estimates point out Rs crore loss per day for Flipkart) and decreasing valuations have forced Flipkart to now resort to nationalism and patriotism to protect their turf.
Indirectly pointing out to companies like Alibaba and Amazon, Sachin said, “How do we ensure news app or restaurant apps doesn’t get prematurely killed by a company coming from China and just pumping in dollars from there. It should be about technology and appreciation of the product..”
He also lamented the fact that we ‘Indians’ are relying too much on US and China for our technological needs, something which ‘we’ can take care of ourselves.
This is not the first time Sachin Bansal has used the patriotism card to seek benefits. During Carnegie India’s Global Technology Summit in 2016, he had said, “I think what we need to do is what at some level China did: [tell foreign players that] we need your capital, but we don’t need your companies”…”Take the example of Brexit and (Donald) Trump… Jobs for Indians in places like the US and EU will come down and we need to be prepared for such a situation…”
Ola’s co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal had also supported Sachin Bansal’s stand against ‘foreign companies’, as they are being rivalled handsomely by Uber.
But.. How Much Indian Is Flipkart Actually?
Registered and headquartered in Singapore, Flipkart has received $3.2 billion from foreign investors such as Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Naspers, Dragoneer Investment Group, Morgan Stanley and more.
In fact, Sachin and Binny Bansal, who are the original founders of Flipkart is right now holding less than 30% stake in Flipkart. Meanwhile, Bhavish Aggarwal from Ola holds less than 10% stake in the company.
Thus, Flipkart is mainly a foreign company, backed by foreign investors, operating in India, with Indian employees. Under this definition, it is really hard to imagine how much foreign is Amazon which will invest more than $5 billion in India, or say Alibaba and Uber.
Sachin Bansal’s statements are clearly anti-free market, and he is deliberately using patriotism and nationalism as a strategy to defend against foreign competition. It seems Flipkart wants foreign dollars, but not foreign companies.
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