Some Are Not Happy With Sushma Swaraj’s Warning To Amazon On Indian Tricolour Doormats

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2:29 pm 12 Jan, 2017

On January 11, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj issued a stern warning to global e-commerce giant Amazon not to sell doormats with the design of the Indian tricolour on them.

Swaraj told Amazon that the visas of the company’s officials will be rescinded and no more shall be issued if the company did not stop offering the doormats for sale on its portal.

It is not clear since when has Amazon’s international portals been selling the doormat. The matter was reported by TopYaps on January 5 following some users pointing it out on social media.



Amazon has reportedly complied.


But what is surprising is the reaction of the some social media users. They found the warning issued by the EAM to Amazon unnecessary.

Here are some Twitter comments condemning the “threat”:


And this Reddit thread took things to another level by labelling the minster’s warning as a “pedestrian outburst”.

However, there were other voices which approved and appreciated Swaraj’s move:


This Twitter user, for instance, made a very astute observation:


Yes, like we wrote earlier, it is neither illegal nor culturally offensive when the design of the national flag of US or any of its states is used for a doormat. Indians, however, have a very emotional attachment with the tricolour.


Unlike the US, which got its “independence” from the British in 1776, India achieved its independence only 70 years ago. Also, the current US flag is seen more as a unifying symbol rather than a symbol of freedom. The Stars and Stripes, as the US flag is known, became a symbol of American nationalism against secessionism of the Confederates. In India, the flag is both the symbol of unification and independence.

Alos, the US soldiers sacrifice their lives under the flag but the nature of war is different. India defends its territories from external aggression and terrorists. The US invades other countries to “maintain peace”. So the sentiments associated with the two flags will be different.

And it is not that there are no laws governing the use of the US flag.

Section 8 of the US Flag Code stipulates: “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”, and “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform”.

Section 3 of the Flag Code defines “the flag” as anything “by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag of the United States of America”. This means that the doormat with the design of the US national flag is a flag if a US citizen sees it as such.

There are other rules governing how it should be displayed and treated.


Protesters burning the US national flag in US. StartThinkingStraight

In the US, however, the law is not enforced because it would conflict with the Right to Freedom of Speech – a hypocritical law which allows the freedom of burning the US flag on US soil and its removal from US universities if a bunch of non-Americans “feel offended” by it.

Whether or not Swaraj did the right thing by telling off Amazon on Twitter is another subject. But there is no doubt that a strong warning had to be issued. What is important is that this debate should not replace the Indian way of looking at the national flag with the overly liberal manner in which the US national flag is treated by myopic liberals of that country.

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