Amazon's Mahatma Gandhi flip-flops prompt anger

Foreign ministry calls on US envoy to intervene with giant e-retailer as users decry sandal emblazoned with icon's face.

    This screenshot from Amazon's site shows the flip-flops in question [Amazon.com]
    This screenshot from Amazon's site shows the flip-flops in question [Amazon.com]

    Flip-flops bearing the face of India's independence icon Mahatma Gandhi for sale on Amazon triggered fresh outrage on Sunday, days after the e-retail giant was forced to stop selling Indian flag doormats.

    On Wednesday, India demanded Amazon apologise for selling "insulting" doormats featuring India's national flag, with Sushma Swaraj, Indian foreign minister, warning of tough action against the company.

    The flip-flops were still available to buy on Sunday morning, but a few hours later the offending sandals had disappeared from the site.

    On Saturday, the Indian foreign ministry said that the country's "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 spokesman Vikas Swarup.

    Several people left comments on the Customer Reviews board beneath the Amazon listing condemning the sale of the sandals. 

    "Try imagining your footwear featuring your own parents or grandparents & how comfortable would you be with that kind of a 'respect' & 'affection' shown to them," wrote Ramesh.

    "Shameless Amazon first it was Indian flag and now Mahatma Gandhi looks like Jeff Bezos is losing his mind," wrote an anonymous user.

    Bezos is Amazon's founder.

    The flip-flops, which cost $16.99, are described on the website as "professionally printed" and a product that "will look great and make someone smile".

    Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

    Amazon has made steady inroads in India, with plans to invest $5bn in the country since entering the cut-throat, rapidly growing e-commerce market in 2013.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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