Sushma Swaraj well within her right to attack Amazon on national flag issue

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lashing out against Amazon for selling Indian national flag-emblazoned doormats on its Canada website has triggered extreme reactions on social media.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Updated: January 16, 2017 3:08 pm
sailors stranded, indian sailors stranded, indian sailors, sailors in uae, sailors in dubai, sushma swaraj sailors help, sailors sos, india news External Affairs Minster Sushma Swaraj. (File Photo)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lashing out against Amazon for selling Indian national flag-emblazoned doormats on its Canada website has triggered extreme reactions on social media. But, she did have a strong case to act in the manner that she did, even if it bypassed normally followed bureaucratic processes.

Swaraj’s warning to Amazon forced the e-tailer to remove the product from its list. Stark reactions were thrown at Swaraj along with allegations that she overdid the ‘threat’ and that too over social media. It is another matter that this same Twitter engagement has allowed greater interaction and quicker response time to citizens’ issues from government ministries. If the country is advancing, why can’t a minister choose how to run his/her ministry and reach out to millions of people?

WATCH VIDEO | After Sushma Swaraj, Economic Affairs Secretary Slams Amazon For Selling Indian Flag Doormats

Meanwhile, many people can dismiss Swaraj’s reaction by terming it hypernationalism. However, it is preposterous to think that any Indian will find it appropriate for someone to rub their shoes on their national flag–which was apparently being sold by a business house that  wants to expand in India. In the past there have been incidents where people have been forced to show their nationalism by court order or government decree like standing up for the national anthem in cinema halls. In such cases the orders were in fact harsh and unreasonable.

But, some institutions deserve respect and if a citizen, a foreign minister for that matter, is attacking a foreign entity for disrespecting our national flag then she would be well in her right to do so. Even if she were not a minister, a citizen can show outrage when a symbol of their national identity is run to the ground.

Granted that where the incident took place such instances may be within legal boundaries, but we can’t judge to what extent someone can go with our national flag based on foreign laws and their legal liberties.

Isn’t Amazon responsible for the products that are sold on its platform. It is common sense that anything involving another nation’s symbols and identities should be treated with sensitivity according to prevailing values and sentiments in the country in question.

Questions arise from some quarters that whether national flag, national anthem, and other such institutions are so weak or small that we have to defend them on each such incident? Are they maligned by an act by ill-informed or even ill-meaning individuals? The answer is no. That doesn’t mean it gives someone a free hand to take absolute liberties in such matters. The national flag, national anthem, the Constitution, all represent the spirit of sovereign India.

By such questions, people expose themselves to other arguments that whether it is right to do so? Is this validation of insult in our society? Or do we practice different standards in our own case and in the case of our country and its institutions.