Amazon may have invested more than $5 billion in India over the last two years, but the company has felt the wrath of one government official following the discovery of doormats depicting the Indian flag on Amazon Canada.
India's external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, sent out a tweet yesterday asking the Indian High Commission in Canada to take up the issue with Amazon at the highest level. A later post stated that the retail giant "must tender unconditional apology" and immediately withdraw all products "insulting our national flag" from its Canadian site.
Indian High Commission in Canada : This is unacceptable. Please take this up with Amazon at the highest level. https://t.co/L4yI3gLk3h--- Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 11, 2017
Swaraj threatened to refuse an Indian visa to any Amazon official and rescind visas that had previously been issued if the company didn't take action.
Doormats showing flags from other countries, including the US and the UK, were also available from third-party sellers Mayers Flag Doormats and XLYL. Indian law prohibits any desecration of its flag - anyone who does so faces fines and imprisonment.
Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately. /1--- Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 11, 2017
The Indian mats were removed yesterday. "The item is no longer for sale on the site," said an Amazon spokesperson.
It's not too surprising to see Amazon get rid of the offending item so quickly. It continues to battle against local companies Flipkart and Snapdeal in the world's fastest growing internet services market. And last year, CEO Jeff Bezos said Amazon is growing faster in India than in any other region.
Swaraj has 7 million followers on Twitter and has previously used the platform to organize an operation to rescue Indians detained in Iraq.