Jeff Bezos may come across as the God of ecommerce, with a significant stronghold in India, but being depicted as Hindu god Vishnu on the latest cover of New York based business magazine, Fortune, hasn’t worked so well for the Amazon founder and CEO.
The January issue of the magazine’s international edition features a story about Amazon’s expansion in India. The cover piece, titled ‘Amazon Invades India’, talks about how Bezos “aims to conquer the next trillion-dollar market”. An illustration of the Amazon CEO striking a customary form of Vishnu can be seen on the cover.
This obviously hasn’t gone down well with the Hindu community who think the holy deity, sacred to Hindus, is trivialised, for a commercial purpose.
“Lord Vishnu is a highly revered major deity in Hinduism meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used indecorously or thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects,” Nevada-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed wrote in a statement emailed to Hindustan Times.
The issue became trending topic on social media too, as much social commentary, outrage and eventually jokes and memes followed.
HOW DARE they show Jeff Bezos as Lord Vishnu!?! Only Swapnil Joshi is allowed to be (many) Indian Gods.
— Akshar (@AksharPathak) January 13, 2016
The story has also drawn parallels with MS Dhoni who had also featured on a Business Standard cover, as the God of Deals and Lord Vishnu had been employed as the visual symbol.
Warrants Issued to MS Dhoni for this Business Today Cover. Will they issue to Jeff Bezos for the Fortune Cover? pic.twitter.com/uOjizFlAM9
— Sriram (@ChicGuy9) January 13, 2016
Jeff Bezos has been known to be pinning a lot of hopes on India, its second largest market after the USA and the expansion plans have been aggressive. Recently, according to report, Amazon emerged as the most visited ecommerce portal in India, beating local rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal. An email personally addressed by Bezos was sent to thank all the Amazon India customers.
In another statement, Amazon had also claimed to the largest marketplace in India by volumes.
Bezos himself has been known to have a quirky personality, and in a visit to India last year, had made for some interesting photo ops by striking a pose dressed up in traditional clothes, in an Indian truck, with the Amazon, Bangalore headquarters in the background.
If Jeff wants to win favour with the Indian market, first step would be to gauge and respect the culture and sentiments of the Indian public, who time and again have displayed their intolerance to the slightest provocation against Indian values and sentiments. Recently Amir Khan, brand ambassador of Snapdeal, inadvertently ended up costing the company through angry users downrating the app after his “anti nationalist” remarks. Similarly Zomato had to take down its porn campaign after a large section of the public found it in bad taste and anti Indian culture.
Update: Fortune has apologized for juxtaposing image of Amazon.com President Jeff Bezos as the likeness of Lord Vishnu over the cover of its January one international edition, which upset the Hindus. “The cover of Fortune’s January 2016 international edition featured an illustration of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as a Hindu deity. Neither the artist nor the editors of Fortune had any intention of parodying a particular deity or of offending members of the Hindu faith. It is clear that we erred and for that, we apologize.”, said Editor Alan Murray in a statement.