Twitter doesn’t categorise its users’ tweets, but if it did, ‘Modi’s watch’ would be a prominent category for strategic analyst and commentator Brahma Chellaney’s profile.
No, Chellaney (a well-respected name in the geopolitics and strategic studies space) isn’t referring to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wrist watch, but his watch over India.
ON MODI GOVERNMENT'S WATCH: After taking over India's top electronic payment firm Paytm, China's Alibaba gains control of India’s top online grocer BigBasket. Meanwhile, China's trade surplus with India has jumped from less than $2.5 billion a month in 2014 to $5 billion a month.
— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) February 3, 2018
It’s a provocative and rarely discussed point that he makes, namely that India’s internet sector risks being controlled by foreign countries. Of which, the one that mostly attracts Chellaney’s ire is China.
The Ken reached out to Chellaney, both over email and telephone. In a brief telephone call, he said, “I am not qualified to speak about this, as this is not something I track. There are plenty of others who follow this space better than me. It was just a tweet.”
Let’s do a quick rundown of India’s internet.
- The largest e-commerce company, Flipkart, has Tencent as one of its major investors.
- The largest digital payments company, Paytm*, has Alibaba as its largest investor.
- The largest cab hailing and mobility company, Ola, has Chinese investors in Tencent and Didi Chuxing.
- The largest restaurant and food discovery platform, Zomato, has a Chinese investor in Ant Financial.
- The largest food delivery company, Swiggy, has a Chinese investor in Meituan.com.
- The largest online grocer, BigBasket, has Alibaba as its largest investor.
- The only messaging company worth over a billion dollars (the “unicorn” threshold), Hike, has Tencent as its largest investor.
Over the past three years, Chinese companies have invested $6.9 billion in the country, according to data sourced from Tracxn. Compare this with what has been invested in India by venture capital, both foreign and domestic—$23.8 billion.
Chinese companies form 29% of the capital pouring into India. Chinese companies opening up up their investment spigots in India have even survived one fairly serious flare-up between their armies.
And China isn’t the only player. American companies dominate, too. There’s Amazon, which is the second largest e-commerce company in India, estimated to control 40-45% of the market share.