Amazon’s (AMZN) sale of flip flops emblazoned with an image of independence icon Mahatma Gandhi has provoked anger in India and sent the company scrambling to remove the item from its virtual shelves.
And its the second time in less than a week that the e-commerce giant has kicked up a stink in India, the BBC reports.
Last Wednesday, Amazon pulled doormats resembling India’s tri-colored flag from its Canadian website in response to learning that they had caused offense. So much so, in fact, that the Indian government threatened to rescind Amazon employees’ visas should the company not “apologize unconditionally.”
Following the latest affront, NDTV quoted Vikas Swarup, spokesperson at India’s Ministry of Eternal Affairs, as saying, “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.”
India’s Secretary of Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das also weighed in, warning Amazon over Twitter that being indifferent to Indian symbols and icons would be “at your own peril.”
Although Amazon has not publicly responded to the flip-flop furor, the BBC reported that Amit Agarwal, Amazon India’s vice-president, told the country’s foreign minister that the doormats—which he said had been offered by a third-party seller—were not meant to cause offense.
Amazon is “committed to respecting Indian laws and customs,” Agarwal reportedly said in a statementIn December, Fortune’s Leena Rao detailed five things that could make Amazon stronger in 2017. Among them was a strong performance in India, where the company had recently invested $3 billion in service expansion.Amazon India is locked in competition over marketshare with the country’s largest online retailer Flipkart (FLIPKART).