Days after Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj threatened Amazon to "never issue a visa" to its officials if it sold products insulting the Indian flag, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das lashed out at the e-commerce giant on Twitter, issuing a stern warning to the company saying, "indifference will be at your own peril."
In a series of Tweets on Sunday, Das warned Amazon to refrain from being flippant about Indian symbols and icons, following complaints of another controversial item -- flip flops -- going up on the site depicting Mahatma Gandhi.
"Amazon, better behave. Desist from being flippant about Indian symbols & icons. Indifference will be at your own peril," Das said in a tweet.
Amazon,better behave. Desist from being flippant about Indian symbols & icons. Indifference will be at your own peril.— Shaktikanta Das (@DasShaktikanta) January 15, 2017
He later added in another tweet that he "sometimes get touchy when icons are involved."
Remain committed to economic reforms,ease of doing business & open trade.Sometimes get touchy when our icons are involved.— Shaktikanta Das (@DasShaktikanta) January 15, 2017
In a third tweet, he said with a caveat: "Comment on Amazon was as a citizen of India as I felt strongly about it. Nothing more should be read into it."
Last week, India's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj received a complaint about doormats portraying the Indian flag being listed for sale on Amazon's Canada website, following online protests about the items.
Two days later Amazon's Canada portal removed the article with doormats depicting the Indian flag, and Amazon India Country Manager and VP Amait Agarwal wrote to the minister, saying the items had been promptly removed and explaining they had been listed by a third party seller. It also said its intention had not been to offend Indian sentiments.
However, another controversial item appeared to have gone up on the site -- foam rubber flip flops with Mahatma Gandhi's image costing $16.99 -- provoking the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to say on Saturday that the company should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments.
"As a follow up to the matter regarding the sale of doormats with the Indian flag on Amazon, our Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to convey to Amazon that while providing a platform for third party vendors, they should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments," said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
To be sure, the items in question aren't listed on Amazon India's site. India is one of the key markets for Amazon and the e-commerce giant has committed $5 billion to grow its business in India.
With agency inputs