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Tricolour on doormat row: Amazon regrets ‘offending’ Indian sentiments

Following a stern message by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the sale of doormats depicting the tricolour, Amazon on Thursday expressed regret for “offending” Indian sentiments and informed her about the removal of the product from its Canadian website.

In a letter to Swaraj, Vice President and Country Manager of Amazon India Amit Agarwal said, “I am writing in connection with the products that carried the Indian flag, as referred to in your tweet…

“Amazon India is committed to respecting Indian laws and customs. To the extent that these items offered by a third-party seller in Canada offended Indian sensibilities, Amazon regrets the same. At no time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments.”

He also said Amazon remains steadfastly committed to India, as evident by CEO Jeff Bezos’ announcement last year of the company’s plans to invest USD 5 billion in India.

Screenshot of Amazon Canada’s website

VALUE RELATIONSHIP WITH INDIAN GOVT: AMAZON

“We value immensely our relationship with the Indian government, the country’s entrepreneurs and innovators, and most importantly our Indian customers and employees,” Agarwal said.

On Wednesday, after she had received a complaint about Amazon Canada selling doormats depicting the Indian flag on its site, Swaraj reacted sharply and asked the e-retailer to withdraw the products and tender an unconditional apology, failing which no official of Amazon will be granted Indian visa and the ones issued earlier will also be rescinded.

The minister had also asked the Indian Embassy to take up the matter with Amazon Canada.

OFFENSIVE ARTICLE REMOVED AFTER PROTESTS

After strong protests, the e-retail giant on Thursday removed the offensive article from its Canadian website. In a series of tweets, Swaraj had expressed her anger at the sale of such an offensive doormat by Amazon, which is seeking a big presence in India. “Amazon must tender an 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,” Swaraj had said in her tweets.


Tweeting Agarwal’s response to Swaraj, the MEA Spokesperson said, “In response to EAM @SushmaSwaraj’s tweet, @amazon writes to her, expresses regret at hurting Indian sensibilities, pulls offending item.” .

THIRD-PARTY SELLER LISTED THESE PRODUCTS

In his letter, Agarwal also explained that a third-party seller, not Amazon, had listed these products for sale in Canada.

“These products were not available in India. After learning of the products’ listing, we immediately removed them from the Canadian website and implemented measures to ensure that these products could not be sold on any of our other marketplaces or websites,” he further said.

Agarwal also offered to meet Swaraj to discuss the issue and Amazon’s broader relationship with India.

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