| NEW DELHI, March 30
NEW DELHI, March 30 India's reaction to an
Amazon.com website selling doormats resembling the
country's flag involved an unprecedented public and private
offensive against the U.S. company by Prime Minister Narendra
Modi's government, a document shows.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj publicly threatened in
January to rescind visas of Amazon employees if the doormats
were not removed from its Canadian website.
But a document seen by Reuters shows the government went
even further in private, asking its U.S. and Canadian embassies
to raise the matter "strongly" with Amazon's senior leadership.
India also escalated the matter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and
prompted a global audit by the company to "ensure that such
products are not listed on any of its other" websites around the
world, according to the document.
Amazon, which removed the products within 24 hours and
apologised to the government, declined to comment.
Much is at stake for Amazon in India, where it plans to
invest more than $5 billion as it takes on home-grown Flipkart
(IPO-FLPK.N) and Snapdeal for a bigger share of the internet
services market in the world's fastest growing major economy.
Amazon has now made Indian laws that govern the use of the
national flag and other emblems "an integral part of the global
compliance process," the document said, outlining the steps
Amazon and India have taken since the incident.
India's reaction underscores the risks governments run by
nationalist leaders are posing for businesses around the world.
U.S. President Donald Trump, for example, has also taken an
aggressive stance on Twitter against individual companies.
Last year, Modi presented a global leadership award to Bezos
at a U.S.-India Business Council summit in Washington.
Amazon told the government that it had strengthened its
in-house compliance units that monitor products sold by
third-party vendors on its websites, the document said.
"Amazon India has conveyed that it is fully committed to
respecting Indian laws and customs," the document said.
(Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Alexander Smith)