Seems Amazon is up for yet another controversy a few days after the e-commerce giant apologised for the sale of Indian flag-themed doormats after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s tough warning to the company. This time, on its US portal, Amazon has put up flip flops with Mahatma Gandhi’s face on it.
Some Twitter users have highlighted the issue and also tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ministry of External Affairs and Ms Swaraj. Describing the ‘Gandhi flip flops’ as pair of “foam rubber flip flops”, the slippers cost $16.99 or about Rs. 1,200.
Ministry of External affairs, not directly commenting on the slippers issue, on Saturday issued a statement saying “Amazon should respect Indian sentiments”.
“As a follow up to the matter regarding the sale of doormats with the Indian flag on Amazon, our Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to convey to Amazon that while providing a platform for third party vendors, they should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
Soon after, India threatened to not give visas to Amazon official if the company did not withdraw the Indian flag-themed doormat from its Canadian platform, the website removed the article from the online marketplace, and issued an apology on Thursday.
“Amazon India is committed to respecting Indian laws and customs. To the extent that these items offered by a third-party seller in Canada offended Indian sensibilities, Amazon regrets the same. At no time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments,” Amazon India Vice-President Amit Agarwal wrote to Ms Swaraj.
On Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj had said in tweets that Amazon must “apologise unconditionally” and withdraw all products insulting the flag. “If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier,” she said in strong tweet after a Twitter user sent her a screen-grab of doormats featuring the flag on sale on Amazon Canada.
Under India’s law, any desecration of the flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment.
Amazon has vowed to invest more than $5 billion in India.