Here’s How PM Modi Can Save a DACOIT-ised Indian Digital Ecosystem

Our beloved prime minister has a thing for acronyms. Here’s one that he may not like: DACOIT, ie, Digital America/China (are) Colonising & Obliterating Indian Tech!

Digital DACOITs Replace Chambal Bandits of the 1970s

Just as Chambal dacoits looted central India in the 1970s/80s, Shenzhen and Silicon Valley DACOITs are savaging our digital landscape in the 21st century. We have already resigned ourselves to Google’s and Facebook’s astonishing dominance, without even a shrug of resistance. These American titans take nearly 90 percent of all digital ad dollars from India. They know what we search, buy, whom we date, where we live, what politics we follow, what we say, think, whatever and everything we do!

It’s a shame that this is happening on an avowedly “nationalist” government’s beat.

But wait, don’t we also have an ‘Indian’ counter-weight to every foreign invader in areas other than search and social? Just look at the reality:

If there’s an Amazon, there’s a Flipkart too, founded by local boys Sachin and Binny Bansal(s), right? Well, except for the fact that China’s Tencent, along with other foreign investors, owns 70 percent, while the Bansal boys are down to 10 percent. And we now hear that Walmart is swooping in for the final kill.

So what, you will counter – see how Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati’s Ola has taken the fight to America’s Uber; isn’t a homegrown start-up socking it to the mighty denizen of San Francisco? Yes, but Ola is now 60 percent owned by a clutch of foreign investors, including the unstoppable Softbank (Japanese), which is also the largest investor in China’s Alibaba. Talk about promiscuous parentage!

Hold on, don’t fret, we still have our own giant-killer, Vijay Shekhar Sharma and his PayTm. Oh really? Do you know that Alibaba owns 60 percent of PayTm’s parent company, and Vijay’s stake is in the teens? So who will eventually call the shots here? You must be utterly naive to believe that it would be anybody other than Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder.

A DACOIT-ised Digital Ecosystem

The stark truth is that India’s digital economy has been DACOIT-ised completely. o quote Mohandas Pai, “of the eight ‘Indian’ unicorns (start-ups valued at over $ 1 bn), seven are domiciled overseas, largely owned by foreign capital with most founders reduced to being ‘managers’ dictated to by overseas investors and overseas capital”.

Even otherwise, these ‘Indian’ companies are puny and incredibly vulnerable: Tencent, with a market cap of half a trillion dollars, is training its sights on Hike, Practo, Byju’s and MakeMyTrip (in addition to Flipkart and Ola); while Alibaba, with a $ 450 bn market cap, has got Zomato and TicketNew (plus PayTm) in its line of fire.

RIP Indian Digital Companies. Our government has permitted a daylight DACOIT-y on you. Read the full text story here.

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