Topic Of The Day:-“Strange Deal: On New E-Commerce Police”

The New E-Commerce Policy Betrays A Muddled View Of Online And Offline Retail

The Centre’s curiously timed attempt to ‘clarify’ foreign direct investment norms for e-commerce players could end up scuttlinginvestor interest in the sector that has attracted large foreign players and generated thousands of jobs. The fresh restrictionsand the clarifications on certain operational aspects could reinforce investor complaints about India being unpredictable in terms of policies. In March 2016, foreign investment up to 100% was allowed under the automatic route for e-com firms engaged in business-to-business transactions using the marketplace model — one where a firm sets up an enabling IT platform to facilitate trade between sellers and buyers. However, FDI was not allowed where the e-com player owned the inventory of goods to be sold, or for business-to-consumer purposes, barring a few exceptions. Now, the rules have been altered for players like Amazon or Flipkart (majority-owned by Walmart) that have made significant investments in India. The policy, to kick infrom February 1, 2019, could require a major overhaul in the business model and shareholding structures of such players. For instance, earlier a single vendor or its group firms couldn’t account for over 25% of sales in a marketplace; now the rules bar sales by any entities where the e-com firm has an equity stake. A vendor’s inventory will be deemed to be controlled by the e-com player if more than 25% of its purchases are from the latter or related firms. It’s not clear how this change will help meet the principle enunciated in the policy note — fairness and the creation of a non-discriminatory, level playing field.

Separately, any specialised back-end support for some sellers must now be extended to all vendors, while discounts, cash-backs and preferential subscription services have been made far trickier to implement. An e-commerce marketplace entity will not mandate any seller to offer a product exclusively on its platform under the new rules. But this doesn’t explain what to do when a seller voluntarily opts to sell exclusively on one e-commerce portal over another. The government is clearly keen to quell the long-brewing disquiet among offline retailers over big discount sales and the surge in e-commerce. Yet, it could have waited for the recommendations of a national e-commerce policy task force set up this April. That task force could trigger more policy shifts. India’s retail FDI policy remains muddled — with the debate now focussing on online vs offline trade as opposed to big vs small, or a single brand vs multi-brand retail FDI regime. Globally, India has been taking on protectionism, and this month the Finance Minister said free trade is essential, so consumers get the best deal everywhere. The same consumer focus and non-protectionist tenets must be applied for internal trade.


  1. Clarify

Meaning: Make (a statement or situation) less confused and more comprehensible.

Synonyms: make clear, shed light on

Antonyms: confuse, obscure

Example: “The report managed to clarify the government’s position”

  1. Scuttling

Meaning: deliberately cause (a scheme) to fail.

Synonyms: scamper, scurry, scramble

Example: “the ship was scuttled by its German prize crew, who took to the boats”

  1. Restriction

Meaning: the limitation or control of someone or something, or the state of being restricted.

Synonyms: limitation, limit, constraint

Antonyms: Liberation, Freedom

Example: “there will be no restriction on the number of places available”

  1. Unpredictable

Meaning: not able to be predicted; changeable.

Synonyms: Unforeseeable, Undivinable

Antonyms: Predictable, Reliable

Example: “the unpredictable weather of the Scottish islands”

  1. Facilitate

Meaning: make (an action or process) easy or easier.

Synonyms: make easy/easier, ease, make possible

Antonyms: Impede

Example: “schools were located in the same campus to facilitate the sharing of resources”


Meaning: a complete list of items such as property, goods in stock, or the contents of a building.

Synonyms: list, listing, catalogue.

Example: “a complete inventory of all their belongings”

  1. Barring

Meaning: except for; if not for.

Synonyms: except for, with the exception of, excepting

Example: “barring accidents, we should win”

  1. Alter

Meaning: change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way.

Synonyms: change, make changes to, make different

Antonyms: Stay, Ruin

Example: “Eliot was persuaded to alter the passage”

  1. Kick In

Meaning: come into effect or operation.

Synonyms: Chip In, Commit

Example: “the hospital’s emergency generators kicked in”

  1. Overhaul

Meaning: a thorough examination of machinery or a system, with repairs or changes made if necessary.

Synonyms: service, maintain, repair

Antonyms: Break, Destroy

Example: “a major overhaul of environmental policies”

  1. Deemed

Meaning: regard or consider in a specified way.

Synonyms: regard as, consider, judge, adjudge

Antonyms: Disbelieve, Forget, Ignore

Example: “the event was deemed a great success”

  1. Latter

Meaning: occurring or situated nearer to the end of something than to the beginning.

Synonyms: later, hindmost, closing

Antonyms: Beginning, Initial

Example: “the latter half of 1989”

  1. Enunciate

Meaning: express (a proposition, theory, etc.) in clear or definite terms.

Synonyms: express, utter, state

Antonyms: confine, Deny

Example: “a written document enunciating this policy”


Meaning: put (a decision, plan, agreement, etc.) into effect.

Synonyms: execute, apply, put into effect

Example: “the scheme to implement student loans”

  1. Brewing

Meaning: (of an unwelcome event or situation) begin to develop.

Synonyms: develop, gather force, loom

Antonyms: Stopped

Example: “there was more trouble brewing as the miners went on strike”

  1. Muddled

Meaning: confuse (a person or their thoughts).

Synonyms: bewilder, confuse, bemuse

Antonyms: enlighten, clear, lucid

Example: “Paul was hopelessly muddled by the rates of exchange”

  1. Tenet

Meaning: a principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy.

Synonyms: principle, belief, doctrine

Antonyms: Disbelief, Doubt, Reality

Example: “the tenets of classical liberalism”