India warns Amazon over alleged insults to flag

Published: January 12, 2017

NEW DELHI: (AMZN.O) removed doormats resembling the Indian tri-colour flag from its Canadian website on Wednesday, after an Indian government threat to rescind visas of the US company’s employees if they did not stop selling the product.

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“Amazon must tender unconditional apology,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter. “They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately.”

“If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official,” she added. “We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier.”

The doormat, sold by a third-party on Amazon’s Canadian portal, was taken down late on Wednesday.

“The item is no longer available for sale on the site,” a spokesperson for Amazon said in an email.

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Amazon’s portal in Canada sells doormats fashioned around other national flags, but under Indian law any desecration of its flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment.

Amazon’s official support account on Twitter had earlier responded to angry user comments on Twitter by saying the mats were not being sold on their Indian portal and the concerns had been escalated. Swaraj tweeted that she had asked the Indian High Commission in Canada to take up the issue with Amazon, after it was brought to her attention by a Twitter user from India’s financial capital of Mumbai.

Swaraj is a prolific user of the social media website and often responds to tweets directed at her.

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Amazon is making a huge bet on India and has vowed to invest more than $5 billion as it takes on home-grown Flipkart and Snapdeal for a bigger share of the world’s fastest growing internet services market.

In an event attended by premier Narendra Modi in Washington last year, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said India was the company’s fastest growing region.



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Reader Comments (13)

  • Fact is Fact
    Jan 12, 2017 - 9:56AM

    they dont have money to give food to their soldiers but have audacity to say this to amazonRecommend

  • Yogesh
    Jan 12, 2017 - 10:23AM

    There was no need to issue such warnings to a Fortune 500 company. The EAM should have expressed her concerns by sending message through her secretary. Posturing and all that might be good for her personal image but it sends wrong signs to these companies who are heavily investing in India.Recommend

  • A Pakistani
    Jan 12, 2017 - 10:51AM

    As usual, Indians being violent.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Jan 12, 2017 - 11:49AM

    @Fact is Fact:
    Not only they did threaten Amazon but Amazon removed the product too. Do you see the might now? Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 12, 2017 - 12:16PM

    Apart from those particular tri-colors, do the doormats being sold have the wheel of Ashoka on them ? If not, she nor her government have a case, as even the Republic of Ireland has those same colors on their flag and they are not whining about it !Recommend

  • joke ?
    Jan 12, 2017 - 12:31PM

    this is the country that forces all movies to play national anthem and people in cinema to stand to national anthem. nothing but satisfaction of false ego, where soldiers dnt have food to eat.Recommend

  • Indian_007
    Jan 12, 2017 - 12:57PM

    @Fact is Fact Maybe in your country you treat Chinese companies or American companies as god, I mean you don’t have an option. It is very rare Fortune 500 companies to invest in Pakistan. But in India we have many options, if Amazon says goodbye to India we have Flipkart and Snapdeal. India is a huge market so we have the might to dictate to any Fortune 500 company. Recommend

  • I am a Khan
    Jan 12, 2017 - 2:50PM

    fighting over the colour of doormats…shows the petty mindset of our neighbours..lolRecommend

  • doesnt matter
    Jan 13, 2017 - 12:20PM

    @I am a Khan:
    says the country that takes to the streets over cartoonsRecommend

  • Question
    Jan 13, 2017 - 4:10PM

    In other news, pakistan flag doormat is still available on amazon.Recommend

  • I am a Khan
    Jan 13, 2017 - 6:58PM

    @doesnt matter:
    wrong comparisons..yet again shows a petty mindset..lolRecommend

  • Huzur
    Jan 13, 2017 - 10:09PM

    @I am a Khan:
    Not petty but the right to expect decency in dealing with people.Will amazon produce doormats with its name..ask themRecommend

  • nishant
    Mar 31, 2017 - 12:48AM

    there are laws to use the indian flag.
    And the government has full rights to push companies to comply,

    maybe not in Pakistan where the 1989 mehran is still on sale, while in india the recent change in pollution norms has left the companies with unsold inventory, but the decision is unchallenged.
    Lets not even get started with the price of medicines in pak compared to india. Recommend

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