Jan 16, 2017
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Amazon’s sale of Gandhi flip-flops provokes national outcry

Jan 16, 2017

Amazon has provoked an outcry in India with the sale of flip-flops emblazoned with the face of Mahatma Gandhi, leading to calls for the sandal’s removal from the website and a strongly-worded response from the Secretary of Economic Affairs.

The flip-flops feature the face of independence icon Mahatma Gandhi - Amazon.com

The flip-flops, on sale at $16.99, feature the face of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. The sandals attracted attention on Twitter, with the Secretary of Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das tweeting that Amazon ‘(had) better behave’ and that the Seattle-based company must ‘desist from being flippant about Indian symbols & icons. Indifference will be at your own peril.’

The sandals, available from a third-party vendor, are still available on the website.

The outcry follows the recall of an Indian flag doormat sold on Amazon Canada last week, over which the rescindment of U.S employees' visas was threatened.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs concluded to NDTV at the time that Amazon ‘should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments.’

Amazon Country Manager for India, Amit Agarwal, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the firm’s Indian relationship, responding to the third-party sale of offensive items via the platform in a letter last week.

Third-party sellers prompted record-breaking sales on the platform last year, with seller numbers rising 70 per cent. Close to 50 percent of the units purchased on Amazon come from third-party vendors, according to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.

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