India Targets Jeff Bezos Over Amazon and Washington Post

MUMBAI, India — Jeff Bezos’ possession of The Washington Post has difficult enterprise for his a lot greater firm, Amazon, in Trump-era Washington.

Now the identical factor might be occurring in New Delhi below India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has more and more sought to rein in each the worldwide information media and international expertise firms.

Last week, a senior official of Mr. Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party criticized The Post’s protection of the nation throughout a go to by Mr. Bezos to announce new investments in India, one among Amazon’s fastest-growing markets.

The official, Vijay Chauthaiwale, urged Mr. Bezos to return to Washington and “impart some wisdom” to Post staff in regards to the shiny prospects for India that Mr. Bezos was touting in New Delhi.

On the identical day, Mr. Modi’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal, dismissed Mr. Bezos’ announcement of a contemporary $1 billion funding to assist small companies within the nation. “It is not as if they are doing a favor to India,” Mr. Goyal instructed reporters. He then referred to the antitrust investigation of Amazon and its chief rival that Indian regulators opened the day earlier than Mr. Bezos arrived.

Although each males later tempered their remarks, the double-barreled assault on The Post and Amazon is harking back to President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked Mr. Bezos, The Post’s protection of his administration, and Amazon — often all in the same tweet.

[Read: Jeff Bezos phone hack appears to be tied to Saudi Crown Prince, U.N. experts say.]

Amazon filed a lawsuit against the United States government late final yr, arguing {that a} multibillion-dollar federal contract for cloud providers had been awarded to Microsoft due to Mr. Trump’s private animus towards Mr. Bezos. The Trump administration has denied that the president’s emotions influenced the choice.

A Washington Post opinion editor, Eli Lopez, responded to Mr. Chauthaiwale’s comments on Twitter: “Just to clarify: Jeff Bezos doesn’t tell Washington Post journalists what to write. Independent journalism is not about charming governments. But there’s no question the work of our correspondents and columnists fits within India’s democratic traditions.”

An Amazon spokeswoman in India declined to remark.

In an interview, Mr. Chauthaiwale mentioned that India was not making an attempt to hyperlink its insurance policies towards Amazon with considerations about The Post’s information protection. “I don’t think the Indian government will do these things,” he mentioned. “We also know that business is different from journalism.”

But he mentioned that The Post’s protection of India, notably in its opinion pages, had been unfairly biased towards the federal government. “The Washington Post does not want to give its readers both parts of the narrative,” he mentioned.

The Post mentioned in an announcement that it had “covered India fairly and accurately, even when the government has imposed tight restrictions on the flow of information, as it did with Kashmir.” The information group added that its Opinion division revealed quite a lot of viewpoints from India and around the globe.

Over the previous yr and a half, the Modi authorities and its B.J.P. allies have grown more and more strident of their criticism of international information media. That criticism swelled right into a cacophony over worldwide information protection of the federal government’s resolution in August to strip away the statehood of the predominantly Muslim area of Jammu and Kashmir, ship in troops, shut down the internet and arrest community leaders and opposition politicians.

The Post and different information retailers, including The New York Times, revealed quite a few stories contradicting the federal government’s claims that every one was peaceable and regular in Kashmir.

In response, senior officers just like the exterior affairs minister, S. Jaishankar, have complained in Washington and New York in regards to the reporting. Mr. Jaishankar additionally canceled a gathering with members of the United States Congress after leaders refused to exclude Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, who has sponsored a decision urging the Modi authorities to raise restrictions in Kashmir.

In India, the federal government has elevated limits on international information retailers, together with shortening the length of journalists’ visas and stopping them from going to Kashmir and to Assam, the middle of a battle over a new citizenship law that’s perceived as anti-Muslim.

In the realm of enterprise, the federal government has additionally taken a nationalistic method, in search of to rein in the power of foreign technology giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce website bought by Walmart in 2018.

Some enterprise leaders see the hassle as counterproductive as India struggles to reverse a deepening financial stoop and rising inflation.

Others prompt that the rhetoric is harder in public than in non-public.

“I’ve been in touch with our member companies,” mentioned Mukesh Aghi, the chief government of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a enterprise group whose members embody PepsiCo, Cisco, Mastercard, Boeing and Disney. “Over all, we are not experiencing any change in sentiment with regard to investment in India.”

Mr. Aghi mentioned that the United States and India had been working to enhance their relationship, with the hope that Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi might signal a long-awaited commerce deal throughout a attainable go to by the American president to India on the finish of February.

“There will be positive changes for U.S. companies in India,” Mr. Aghi mentioned.

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