Polls opened Thursday in the first phase of India’s general elections, seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.
A festive spirit prevailed as men and women in colorful clothes made their way to heavily guarded voting stations in large numbers.
Voters in 18 Indian states and two Union Territories are casting ballots Thursday, the first day of a seven-phase election staggered over six weeks in the country of 1.3 billion people.
The election is the world’s largest democratic exercise. Modi supporters say the tea seller’s son from Gujarat state has improved the nation’s standing. But critics say his party’s Hindu nationalism has aggravated religious tensions in India.
Thursday’s voting is important for the BJP as it had won only 32 of 91 seats in the previous 2014 elections. It is seeking to improve its tally this time.
About 900 million people are eligible to cast ballots in about a million polling stations across India. They will decide 543 seats in India’s lower house of Parliament.
Voting concludes May 19 and counting is scheduled for May 23.
Modi came to power in 2014 and the party invoked its Hindu nationalist roots before the elections, with Modi at the forefront against the threat of Pakistan, India’s Muslim-majority archrival. Hindus comprise about 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people.
After cementing its position across four key business verticals — camera, home printers, office printers and commercial printing solutions — Canon India is now ramping up its effort to top the growing healthcare imaging and security surveillance market in the country, a top company official said here on Wednesday.
After grabbing a substantial share in the Indian market in the professional printing segment which has been among the fastest growing verticals for Canon in India, the company now eyes diagnostic imaging market which is witnessing a tremendous growth with new super-specialty hospitals and diagnostic centres being opened at a fast pace, including in the tier II and II towns.
“In 2020, our key focus areas will be medical and security verticals in India. There have been a strong demand in the field of diagnostic imaging like MRIs, CT scans and X rays in the recent past which, we think, is an important segment for us in this country going forward,” Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon India, told IANS.
Although India will be the youngest country in the world by 2020 with a median age of 29 years, the number of elderly people is likely to increase significantly after that, according to the “State of Elderly in India” report.
By 2021, the elderly population will reach 143 million.
According to market research firm Mordor Intelligence, the increase in life expectancy over the years has resulted in an increase in the population of the elderly. Hence, the growing geriatric population is expected to augment the demand for diagnostic imaging equipment.
The global medical imaging market was approximately $34 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around $48.6 billion by 2025, according to Zion Market Research, and the of a huge patient pool and rise in the number of hospitals and diagnostic centres in India, Japan and China are anticipated to fuel the medical imaging market in the Asia Pacific.
“Today, if you go to a hospital and take a picture of your chest, that needs to be printed on a film. We propose to print that on a paper. This is my economical and environmental-friendly vision,” said a beaming Kobayashi on the sidelines of the launch of its flagship camera EOS-1D X Mark III.
According to him, security is another big area to focus on.
“Security surveillance camera systems have come of age and at Canon, we are aiming to make a revolution in this area soon,” said the executive.
Canon’s business in India is divided between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) verticals.
The B2C category includes camera and home printers while B2B includes commercial printers and sales to corporates and MSMEs.
Canon India also showcased EOS-1D X Mark III – the flagship product from the Canon EOS range, featuring latest advancements and innovations in digital imaging technology.
“On the camera front, India offers great opportunities in segments like wedding, wildlife, sports and media. One great observation is that the demand for high-end cameras is also coming from smaller Indian towns and we are excited about this,” said C. Sukumaran, Director, Consumer Systems Products and Imaging Communication Products, Canon India.
Priced at Rs 575,995 (taxes included) for the body, including 512GB CF Express Card and Reader, the EOS-1D X Mark III will be available mid-February onwards at select retail outlets across the country.
The EOS-1D X Mark III offers an unmatched continuous shooting speed up to 16fps with viewfinder shooting. It houses a newly developed 20.1MP Full Frame CMOS sensor.
“The newly developed algorithms in the camera enable not just eye detect and face detect autofocus but also head detect autofocus. This allows highly precise autofocus and tracking even in challenging conditions and with multiple and rapidly moving subjects,” informed Sukumaran.