Minister Sushma Swaraj Threatens Amazon With Visa Ban Over Indian Flag Doormat; Product Removed Within 12 Hours!


DoorMat Indian Flag

Fact 1: Amazon sells more than 350 million products on their platform

Fact 2: Ecommerce entity providing a marketplace will not exercise ownership over the inventory (FDI Guidelines for ecommerce portals, notified by Ministry of Commerce)

Fact 3: Insult to National Flag carries a prison term of 3 years

The thin line between diplomacy, patriotism and business was blurred yesterday when India’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sushma Swaraj threatened Amazon with visa ban over few derogatory doormats carrying Indian flag was found on Amazon Canada’s website.

The threat was real, as it was directed towards to issuing of visa to Amazon’s officials.

And the result was instant, as the product listings were removed within 12 hours of the issue of threat. But the manner this was executed left a bad taste because the so-called visa threats were issued by a Minister, on Twitter.

Sushma Swaraj Went Ballistic Over Insult To National Flag

After a tweet by Atul Bhobe (who has 20 followers on Twitter), wherein he had shared images of doormats with Indian flags on it, Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj went ballistic with anger and nationalistic emotions.

She sent out three strongly worded tweets to Amazon, wherein she not only asked to remove those listing immediately, but also threatened them with visa ban if they fail to remove them.

She also demanded unconditional apology from Amazon for approving these listings.

The last tweet regarding visa threat was liked by 15,000 users, and retweeted 8300 times.

Amazon Removed The Listings Within 12 Hours

Today morning, less than 12 hours after the tweets, Amazon Canada removed these listings from their portal.

Although there has been no apology or a statement from Amazon till now, the instant removal of the listings clearly showcased that the visa threat worked fine with them.

As per TOI, “A spokesman for Amazon based at its headquarters in Seattle contacted The Washington Post to say that the doormat was no longer for sale on its website.”

Nationalistic Fervor Gone Overboard?

As per Indian constitution, any insult to the National Flag carries an imprisonment upto 3 years. Ofcourse, the imprinting of India’s national flag on doormats was derogatory, and cheap stunt to insult our respect and pride.

However, a Minister’s reaction on a social media portal, threatening with visa ban seems a bit too extreme and uncalled for.

First of all, the product listed was on a Canadian portal, and listed by a seller named XLYL who is from China. Hence, threatening Amazon and Amazon India’s officials with a visa ban, over a product listed by a Chinese on a Canadian portal seems irrational, atleast from a diplomatic point of view.

This issue could have resolved with a simple call by a diplomat to Canadian embassy and Amazon’s office in Canada. Moreover, as per India’s FDI policy, the ecommerce portal cannot exercise any control over the inventory. This means that Ministry of Commerce recognizes the fact that any product sold by a seller cannot be legally linked with the platform on which its being sold. Hence, completely blaming Amazon for this ‘insult to National Flag’ is wrong.

On the other hand, Amazon should be more sensible, even if they sell more than 350 million SKUs on their platform, all over the world. India’s national flag is a sensitive issue of our pride, respect and presence, and they should avoid hurting the emotions.

Do let us know your views on this topic, by commenting right here.

1 Comment
  1. Mud says

    Stupid bullshitt. I am an Indian, I have got more than TWENTY PERCENT discount on Amazon when buying things, sometimes more, *not to mention* excellent customer service! They have done more for me than Sushma Swaraj or her stupid flag ever has!

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