Jeff Bezos’ India trip features an electric delivery rickshaw — along with protests and controversy

Jeff Bezos is having quite a trip in India — but not everyone is pleased with his first visit in more than five years.

The Amazon CEO is hanging out with Bollywood stars (see video above), meeting local entrepreneurs, driving electric rickshaws, and making a series of announcements as the Seattle-based tech giant continues to invest heavily in one of its key international markets.

But protests from local retailers and criticism from lawmakers have turned the trip into a “public relations nightmare for Amazon,” Reuters reported.

Amazon entered India seven years ago and has poured more than $5 billion into the country.

Bezos said Amazon will invest an additional $1 billion over five years “to digitize micro and small businesses in cities, towns, and villages across India.” The goal is to help export $10 billion of India-made goods by 2025. The company will also create one million jobs in India by 2025 and “double down” on Prime Video investments.

Speaking at an Amazon India event, Bezos predicted that “the 21st century is going to be the Indian century.” He also said the most important alliance would be between the U.S. and India — “the world’s oldest democracy, and the world’s largest democracy.”

Bezos tweeted a video Sunday of himself driving around a rickshaw — Amazon will roll out 10,000 of the fully electric three-wheelers in India. It will also eliminate single-use plastic from its fulfillment network by June 2020. It’s part of the company’s Climate Pledge that sets carbon reduction goals and timelines for reaching them. The announcement comes just days after fellow Seattle-area tech giant Microsoft announced its own environmental initiative.

Bezos’ visit came just days after India’s government opened a formal antitrust investigation into both Amazon and Walmart-owned rival Flipkart.

The CEO was rumored to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but NDTV reported that government officials turned down requests, citing potential grievances with past coverage by the Bezos-owned Washington Post.

Piyush Goyal, India’s commerce and industry minister, scrutinized Amazon’s new investment.

Small business owners also took to the streets to voice their displeasure with Bezos and Amazon.

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Last year, Amazon had to remove around 400,000 products from its online store in India due to new restrictions.

The Indian e-commerce market is expected to exceed $100 billion by 2022.

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