External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday criticized Amazon Canada for selling doormats featuring the Indian flag on them.
Addressing the Indian High Commission in Canada, Ms. Swaraj asked the Commission officials to take up the issue with the Amazon office.
“Amazon must tender unconditional apology. 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. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier,” the Minister tweeted.
Swaraj did not stop at that, however, and demanded an unconditional apology from the tech giant, along with an assurance that it will withdraw all products featured on its site that insult the Indian national flag. She also tweeted to the Indian Embassy in Canada, directing them to take the matter up with Amazon officials at the “highest level”.
The matter had drawn flak from the Indian community abroad even before it was brought to Swaraj’s notice. A petition on change.org, terming the product as a “clear insult to more than 1.25 billion Indians living across the world”, is already up with over 2,800 supporters on it at the time of writing this report. The petition claims that a similar product was also available on amazon.com, which was taken down after the outrage started. However, amazon.ca still has the product listed.
The manufacturer of the product, XLYL, has several designs available, which are also listed on retailer’s site. The ad describes it as “personalized durable machine-washable indoor/outdoor door mat with durable heat-resistant non-woven fabric top, sized in 23.6″(L) x 15.7″(W). Dry wet feet, grab dirt, dust and grime”.
The comments section under the product, which is priced at 35.99 Canadian dollars (CDN), also sees several one-star ratings and complaints from angry Indians.
“A lot of people have lost their lives fighting for my country’s flag. There are other countries flags that are also used as a doormat and I’m surprised to see no one reacting to that. I’m proud Indian and this is an insult to my country and all the soldiers that fight for my country. Please don’t be ignorant. Take it down ASAP!”, reads one of the comments on the page.
Another Amazon user said that all such products featuring national flags of any country should be taken down as they are disrespectful. “Amazon should respect all national flags. National flags are not meant to be under foot or to be put on doormats. Astonishing to see such an approach. I appeal to reject such marketing acts,” the comment reads.
A simple search on the website reveals that flags of various countries including the US, Canada and Pakistan are all available as designs on doormats.