In a big push for Reliance Jio’s video-conferencing platform JioMeet, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the apex body of around 7 Cr traders of India, has advised traders and trade associations across the country not to use Zoom for communication and opt for JioMeet, which was launched last Saturday (July 4).
The trade body said the move is part of its “boycott Chinese products” mission statement under “Bhartiya Saamaan – Hamara Abhimaan.” CAIT national president BC Bhartia and secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said, “Our decision merits a cryptic explanation just so that all others in the country take note and consider the same. Zoom is owned by one Eric Chuan and has shown admitted vulnerability to wilt under pressure from authorities in mainland China. This startling fact, albeit followed by hasty claims on part of Zoom that capitulation won’t be repeated, is part of the record.”
Recently, with a spike in anti-China sentiments, CAIT had written an open letter to Indian celebrities urging them to stop endorsing Chinese brands. In the backdrop, the traders association has also boycotted all Chinese products.
CAIT had also made a list of 3K Chinese items, from toys to cosmetics, which can be easily replaceable by Indian manufactured goods. This list mostly comprises finished goods imported from China. CAIT’s national president BC Bhartia and national secretary general Praveen Khandelwal specified that in the last four years, the traders’ body has been carrying out several protests to boycott Chinese products. It also claims that the protests have resulted in deduction of Chinese imports by $6 Bn in the last two years. In the year 2018, this import was $76 Bn which is currently $70 Bn.
Zoom, which had 6 Mn downloads in India in the first quarter of the current year, came under the scanner in April when reports emerged about the data of Zoom users in India being sold on the dark web. The Indian government subsequently issued an advisory against the use of Zoom.
Till recently, Zoom was the most popular app in India with around 6 Mn downloads in the first three months of 2020.
JioMeet’s Claim To Fame
Reliance’s video conferencing app JioMeet has recorded over 500K downloads with a 4.5-star rating on the Google Play Store along with an unreported number of downloads on the App Store on the first day of its launch, even though the app was ridiculed on social media platforms for ‘copy-pasting’ Zoom.
Given the size and stature of Reliance Industries, Jio and the many Reliance digital ventures, which stretches across major sectors in India from petrochemical to groceries, many said it was a lazy effort by JioMeet.
While those criticisms of being a Zoom copy are valid till we know more about whether Jio indeed has a white label agreement with Zoom. However, JioMeet has come as an assurance to hundreds of thousands of users, including the Indian government, who were sceptical of US-based video conferencing tool Zoom. Several internet users in India believed that Zoom was a Chinese application that was sharing all their data, even though the app was developed by a Chinese-American billionaire Eric Yuan and was based out of the US. However, Zoom did attract controversy over sharing data of some users outside China with the Chinese government. Before JioMeet, very Indian companies had attempted to bring a competitor.
Meanwhile, CAIT said, “We have no acrimony with Zoom or Chuan personally, but there is enough secular material available against the safety of Zoom. We have taken on board recent high alerts by CERT regarding Zoom (amidst assurances to the contrary) including asking government officials to stay away.”
The move is likely to give a big fillip for the government’s move to make the use of Indian apps as “credible” alternatives.