Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has reportedly asked ecommerce giant Amazon to apologise for insulting the country’s National Flag. The demand came in after a Twitter user shared that the company’s Canadian unit was selling doormats bearing the likeness of the Indian flag.
Also, the company has been notified to withdraw all such products. In case of failure, she has threatened to stop issuing visas to the company’s employees and cancel those already granted.
If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 11, 2017
As stated by another foreign ministry official, “It is about a product that denigrates India and the minister’s efforts were to get that product removed immediately.”
Disrespect to the national flag is a punishable offence in India and involves a three-year jail term and a fine or both. However, it’s common in countries like the US and one can find their national flag printed on cups, t-shirts, towels, etc.
Recently, at the end of 2016, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy (then Head of Advertising and commerce platform) alleged Amazon of copying its moves. Also, in December 2016 only, Chennai-based edtech startup Flintobox filed a legal notice against Amazon. The company claimed that Amazon illegally used the former’s brand name as a keyword to drive traffic to its own website.
It seems that 2017 has started with a rollercoaster ride for Amazon. Although considered as a player with the heaviest war chest in terms of funding, the company has lately been struggling to position itself as a leader in the country.
[The development was reported by ET.]