Not just Amazon doormat: Websites sell Indian flag, emblem as shoe, dog coat

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Amazon might have withdrawn Indian flag-themed doormats that angered foreign minister Sushma Swaraj but the online retail giant’s troubles appear far from over.

Amazon’s United States arm sells shoes and shoe lace metal hoops bearing a likeness to the Indian Tricolour.

The product described as “Chukka Canvas shoes”, priced at $43.99 (Rs 3,000 approximately), and shoe lace accessories ($4.49 or Rs 300) are available on Amazon from a Los Angeles-based company N.Y.L.A. The products were available on the website at the time of writing this article.

Swaraj had warned Amazon on Wednesday that India would stop issuing visas to the firm’s employees and rescind those already granted if the e-commerce firm didn’t withdraw all products insulting the national flag immediately.

Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately. /1

– Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 11, 2017

Disrespect to the national flag is a punishable offence in India and can attract three-year jail term and a fine or both, according to The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

Apart from Amazon, an American online retailer, Café Press, was also found also selling T-shirts for canines with the Indian national emblem imprinted on them. The product is listed as “Indian coat of arms seal dog t-shirt” and is priced at $19.99 (Rs 1362).

The State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005 makes the use of “the emblem for the purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design, except in such cases and under such conditions as may be prescribed,” a punishable offence.

However, like Amazon several e-tailers, including those in India, have been selling products imprinted with national flags of other countries, but has not triggered much protest.

The US-flag imprinted on doormats, undergarments, cushion covers and shoes are widely sold online, both in India and abroad, by Amazon and ebay among others.

According to the US flag code, it should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.

The Union Jack is also available on every conceivable product across stores in Great Britain. It is marketed as towels, doormats, even as thongs, undergarments and vests.