Policy-advocacy group US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) has asked the government to clarify whether electric fans and educational books for students can be sold by e-commerce companies (such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, others) as essential items. The forum in a letter, signed by its president and CEO Mukesh Aghi on Tuesday, to the Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla sought his “guidance on whether e-commerce platforms will be allowed to sell educational books for students,” to help students continue with their education. It also urged Bhalla to “consider allowing e-commerce entities to make the same (electric fans) available on their platforms as well.” The request comes two days after the government in its latest notification had included ‘shops of educational books for students’ and ‘shops of electric fans’ under the list of exempted essential businesses during the lockdown. A copy of the letter, sent on Wednesday, was seen by the Financial Express Online.
“With the kind of summers we face in India the bare minimum product that is required in every household in India is an electric fan,” USISPF said that makes advocacy efforts across healthcare, infrastructure, financial services, services, defense and workforce mobility areas between the two countries. It asserted that e-commerce channels of delivery are already in place for essential items and hence they can further support the delivery of books and fans. The government had enforced lockdown guidelines last month on e-commerce companies to deliver only essential items including grocery and food items, healthcare and hygiene products etc.
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E-commerce companies, however, had planned to resume full-scale operations from April 20 onwards after the government order last week allowing such businesses to operate under lockdown 2.0 even though it didn’t specifically state that non-essentials would be allowed. This was clarified in a notification by the home secretary this past Sunday to all state chief secretaries and secretaries of ministries and government departments said “sub-clause (v) under clause 14 on commercial and private establishments” has been excluded from the consolidated revised guidelines. The sub-clause (v) referred to “e-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions.”