Defining E – Commerce

ecommerce1

A report in Hindustan Times ( 15 July 2015 )  talks about a series of

meetings expected to be held today between Commerce Minister and

different stake-holders , to define ” e-Commerce ”

I am reminded of the story of the 7 blind men , each trying to describe an

elephant by touching different limbs of the animal

It was obvious they could not arrive at a commonly agreed upon description,

since their perceptions differed

Before trying to define ” e-Commerce ” , we must first define ” Commerce ”

In pre-historic times , persons produced whatever they needed to survive

Then they learned to ” barter ” things produced by each other

The only concepts were , ” need ” and ” surplus ”

That lead to introduction of a concept called ” Value ” , which manifested itself in the form of a stick , a weapon , a goat or a piece of animal skin , till it became , some sort of coin

When barter gave way to an exchange of some goods ( or service ) , for its perceived ” Value ” ( as measured in coins ) , it became ” Commerce ”

So , we can conclude that :

” E – Commerce ” is nothing more than ” Commerce ” , where such exchange of values , take place electronically , as opposed to physically . It still remains Commerce , even when perceptions differ

Hence , regulations / controls / taxation etc that govern E-Commerce should , essentially remain the same as in case of Commerce

Ditto for FDI in e-Commerce

Mere elimination of an intermediary ( Distributor / Wholesaler / Dealer / Agent / Stockist etc ) , from the ” Supply Chain ” , itself cannot be the determining criteria

A few years back , when General Motors , tried to sell its cars to end-customers , directly from its own web site , thousands of its Brick-and-Mortar dealers protested and even threatened General Motors

GM had to back-out against the vested interests  !

But when Michael Dell started manufacturing computers in his garage , he took orders on his telephone and later , on his own web site.

He never appointed any dealers . This model became a roaring success and heralded the beginning of E-Commerce era ( read , ” Direct from Dell ” )

Under present guidelines , I suppose , India would allow Dell to set up a wholly-owned , local manufacturing facility , with 100 % FDI

Now , if Dell starts selling those India-made computers , directly to end-consumers ,  from its own web site , would not that be E-Commerce  ?

An e-Commerce with 100 % FDI ?

And what about 100 % FDI by FoxConn ( Taiwan ) , wanting to set up 10 factories in India , to manufacture electronics goods , not only for Foreign giants like Apple / Samsung etc but also for local brands such as Micromax ?

Shall we insist that FoxConn cannot deliver such goods directly to Indian consumers , based on orders received on , not only web sites of Amazon / e-Bay but also on local web sites of Flipkart / SnapDeal etc  ?

It is unfortunate that we , in India , always look-up to the discoveries / inventions taking place in the West ( – and in Japan / South Korea etc )

Had we encouraged Prof Jhunjhunwala ( IIT – Madras ) , we could be today , delivering internet thru common electric outlet in every home , at speeds of 100 mb ! That would have Digitized India , 5 years ago !

When ISRO sent MOM ( Mars Orbiting Mission ) , it did not call it a ” Space Ship ”

As long as the concept of ” Ship ” defines our thought processes , we will continue to ” Sail in a Sea ” – never to traverse the ” Space ”  !

————————————————————————————-

hemen  parekh

15 July , 2015

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