As Indian PM Narendra Modi replaced Gandhi’s face on Khadi calendar of 2017, the US e-commerce giant Amazon has gone a step ahead to sell slippers with Gandhi face on them, ridiculing the face of India.
Called ‘Gandhi flip flops’, Amazon describes them as “foam rubber flip flops” with Gandhi face and priced $16.99 (Rs.1,200). This is the second time Amazon is trying to deface Indian icon after its earlier bid to sell doormats with the Indian flag Tricolour on them.
After a stern warning from Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Amazon took down all products disrespecting the Tricolour from its Canadian website. But within a week Gandhi flip flops have appeared on its US website selling beach slippers with Gandhi’s face printed on them “professionally.”
When the Indian media flashed the news, the page was removed but the name of Gandhi flip flops remains and a quote by Gandhi was imprinted on them instead of his face. The new tagline reads: “Live as if you were going to die tomorrow” on the left slipper and on the right slipper, it reads: “Live as if you were to live forever”. The second message has Gandhi name next to it.
The US Amazon also sports Dalai Lama slippers with his quotes:”If you want others happy, practice compassion” and “If you want to be happy, practice compassion” with Dalai Lama name on the right side slipper. The company Musewear may be getting free publicity from the idiotic disrespect given to Indians and Tibetans but Amazon gets the flak finally.
In fact, Amazon, which is capturing the Indian market as second biggest e-commerce retailer in its apology to the External Affairs Ministry last week said, “After learning of the product’s 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 marketplace or websites.”
The Indian government has asked its Ambassador in Washington to sensitize Amazon and Amazon is likely to come under flak in India too once the issue gets wider attention among its trusted buyers online.
National respect is something that has been accorded to Mahatma Gandhi for his decades-long struggle for India’s freedom through non-violence and Modi should know that respect comes from people’s conviction, not by imposition.