India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has threatened Amazon that the country will not issue visa to company officials if it does not stop selling doormats sporting the Indian tricolour on its platform in Canada.
The late evening tweetstorm on Wednesday by Swaraj came after a Twitter user sought action against Amazon for selling the doormats online.
“Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately,” the External Affairs minister said in her tweet. “If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier.”
An Amazon spokesperson said the company would revert on the issue soon.
The Twitter outrage that sparked Swaraj to go on the offensive against Amazon, caught on as a trend on the microblogging platform asking Indians to boycott the e-commerce platform and its app.
Previously, Twitter users from India had been outraged by Amazon’s US website selling doormats with figures of Hindu gods on them, resulting in a similar movement to boycott the US retailer’s India service. Amazon responded by taking down the listings from its website.
The latest development could pose a setback for Amazon in India, which has written a $5 billion cheque to score over local leader Flipkart. Sachin Bansal, the co-founder of Flipkart last month had raised concerns of Amazon indulging in capital dumping to win the Indian market unfairly and urged the government to introduce policies curbing this. He had sought the government to adopt the China model of protecting local firms of taking foreign money but boycotting foreign companies to dominate the market.
Amazon, like many other technology firms from the US, is expected to drive massive foreign direct investments in India as they look to sell their products and services to the country’s 1.3 billion people. Moreover, the government is wary of acting harshly against any large foreign technology investor as doing so could spook investors across the globe, a yardstick used by several of these firms for negotiating favourable deals.