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Ban on India’s daughter: Why UK and the rest of the world need to clean up their dirt first

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Rape case (1)

By Harshmeet Singh

Global headlines have centred around India in the past one week, owing to the Government’s ban on BBC documentary, India’s Daughter. Significantly, majority of foreign media has merrily bashed the Indian society by concluding that most Indian men agree to what Mukesh Singh (one of the convicts of the Nirbhaya gang rape case) and his lawyers think about women.

Is the International reaction called for?

One of the most scathing attacks on Indian men came from Kuwait Times which ran a story titled ‘Rapist’s views reflect those of many in India – Indian men ‘blame women for rape’. For Kuwait, a country famous for minimal women rights, a country with no laws against sexual harassment or domestic violence, such comments do not stand true to its self made image.

How do the developed nations fare?

7th March 2015, Leeds – ‘An 18 year old woman raped and ‘left of dead’ in Leeds assault’

8th March 2015, Oxfordshire – The defence lawyer of the gang of five men accused of subjecting six schoolgirls to ‘horrific’ sexual abuse said that the girls came forward because ‘it’s better to be a victim than a slag’.

A number of similar stories make headlines in national UK newspapers every single day. According to credible factual data, developed countries make up for majority of the rape cases recorded against women around the world. 1 in every 6 women faces a rape attempt in the perennial world power, USA. In UK, a government report released in 2013 stated that 1 in 5 women above the age of 16 was subjected to some form of sexual abuse.

Is India alone?

The menace of rape and violence against women exists worldwide and making India the lone scapegoat isn’t going to solve the problem. In Mexico, on an average, six women are murdered each day. So despicable is Mexico’s situation that the UN termed it as ‘femicide’ in the country. In 2006, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl was raped and killed by five U.S. soldiers near Al-Mahmudiyah town, Iraq. To destroy any evidence, she was shot in her head and the soldiers set the lower part of her body on fire. Known as the country exhibiting the best ‘gender equality’ stats in the world, Sweden holds the dubious distinction of recording the highest number of rape cases in Europe. The ‘sick’ thinking of men behind such crimes exists everywhere in the world, including India.

Can India get away?

India can’t breathe easy by terming it as a one-off incident and arguing that similar cases happen at other places too. ‘India’s daughter’ was much more than just about another rape case in the country. If it included the rapist’s point of view, it also brought forth the unprecedented unity shown by the youth across the country to come out on the streets and demand their rights. Never before had the world witnessed so many people on the streets without a single leader, all protesting peacefully, demanding what is fundamentally theirs, a right to a dignified life.

The rising emotions of people in India are entirely justified. The thought of the juvenile convict (said to be the most violent) getting released in December this year is in itself scary. It certainly calls for revamping of criminal laws in the country. The five convicts are a part of the same society where our next generation will grow. Isn’t worth asking ourselves, where did we go wrong.

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Hero Cycles to Grow 60% by 2022 and UK Will Help It

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

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Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to
Hero Cycle to grow by expanding in uk, wikimedia commons

As India’s iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new “Insync” brand, the worlds biggest bicycle manufacturer aims to grow by over 60 per cent over the next four years, says Sreeram Venkateswaran, head of the companys UK operations.

He said that from a $800-850 million company (across all its businesses, including automotive), it is poised to become $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion company by 2022, with Europe and bicycles being an “extremely important component” of that growth story.

Sreeram told IANS in an interview that with the launch of the Insync brand, the company not only aims to penetrate the mid-premium segment of the European market but also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

In 2015, Hero Cycles had acquired the UK’s Avocet Sports to expand its footprint into Europe and Sreeram was appointed Avocet CEO. Last year, the company opened a global design centre in Manchester to design bicycles of global standards. The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.

Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to “get out of the well called India” if it had to transform itself into a strong global player from “value perspective” from being one of the largest manufacturers from a “volume perspective”.

The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.
Cycling, Representational image- Pexels

“Just from the figures perspective, India does about 17 million bicycles a year and the total value is $1 billion. UK does about 2.75 million bicycles a year and the business is worth about $2 billion to $2.1 billion. Europe does about 21 million bicycles and the business is about $12 billion,” he said.

At the same time, the company’s Europe and UK plans are in sync with its growth plans in India, Sreeram said.

With India’s medium- to high-end cycling segment growing at about 25-27 per cent over the last one-and-a-half years, Hero Cycles plans to optimise the Insync brand models for the Indian market and then take them back home.

“Also, having the ownership of Firefox in India, which is clearly the market leader in the mid to high-end bikes, we are well poised to garner a disproportionate share of the growth as the market starts to grow,” he said.

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

“UK happens to be in a very nice cusp of market development. It’s about three to four years behind mainland Europe and it’s about three to four or five ahead of the Indian development cycle.

As Indias iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new "Insync" brand
Hero Cycles to expand in UK, pexels

“What it does from a business perspective is that while usually a bike range has shelf life of one year, a facility in Manchester gives me an opportunity to extend that shelf life to three to four years,” Sreeram said.

“So any investment I make into design and development of bicycles here in this facility has actually four times the value that can be extracted compared to any other company which is solely based out of Europe or the UK and selling only in this market. That’s a huge advantage,” Sreeram said.

Also Read: Indian Art Forms in International Festivals Through Sands of Culture Series

The facility in the UK and designing bikes for the European market make it necessary for the company to also keep updating the design and manufacturing team back home in India to bring it at par with what is required by a European customer, he added.

“So they start looking at quality from not what a guy in Latur would want but as what a guy in Luxemburg will want. That’s the difference we have to create even from a quality perspective.

“These are the kinds of things that are slowly getting imbibed in the entire manufacturing chain which makes us a much more robust and stronger company,” he added. (IANS)