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The year Chinese smartphone players dominated Indian market

India this year surpassed the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world after China.

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Smartphone. Pixabay
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There are nearly 650 million mobile phone users in India — and over 300 million of them have a smartphone. For these users, Chinese players became the first choice this year as they launched devices with compelling features, thus dominating the budget and mid-range price segment in the country.
Chinese vendors captured 49 per cent of the Indian mobile phone handset market in the first quarter of 2017 — with a 180 per cent (year-on-year) revenue growth — threatening to wipe out domestic players from the overall handset segment.
Among the top Chinese brands, Xiaomi witnessed the biggest growth this year.
With a market share of 23.5 per cent and having shipped 9.2 million smartphones in the third quarter this year, Xiaomi became the fastest-growing smartphone brand with a growth rate of nearly 300 per cent (year-on-year) in the third quarter this year.
According to IDC, Samsung had 23.5 per cent market share in India, similar to Xiaomi, the Lenovo-Motorola combine was at 9 per cent, Vivo at 8.5 per cent and OPPO at 7.9 per cent.
For Xiaomi, its Redmi Note 4 device that was launched in January at Rs 9,999 for the base model (2GB RAM and 32GB onboard storage) proved to be a game-changer and its best-selling smartphone too. The company shipped approximately four million units of the device in this quarter, said IDC.
Chinese brands like Huawei (which sells its youth-centric sub-brand Honor in India), Vivo, Motorola (a Lenovo brand) and OPPO’s performance remained strong and contributed to more than half of the total smartphone shipments in the country.
Aiming to push its position up in the highly competitive Indian market, Honor launched flagship products at “unbeatable prices”, like the highly-successful Honor 8 Pro (Rs 29,999) and Honor 7X (starting at Rs 12,999).
Only one-fourth of India's population uses smartphones, thus making the country an attractive destination
Only one-fourth of India’s population uses smartphones, thus making the country an attractive destination
 Vivo and OPPO’s aggressive marketing spends also paid them hefty dividends. With smartphone growth nearing saturation in metros, Chinese players were also busy building their base in tier II and III cities.
When it comes to manufacturing in India, Xiaomi announced its third plant in the country based out of Noida and the first facility for power banks in partnership with Hipad Technology.
Spread across 230,000 square feet, the Noida unit is a dedicated facility for Xiaomi power banks where the Mi Power Bank 2i will be assembled. The company already has two smartphone manufacturing plants in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, where more than 95 per cent of its smartphones sold in India are assembled locally.
Meanwhile, South Korean giant Samsung also announced that it would invest Rs 4,915 crore in expanding its Noida manufacturing plant to double the production capacity of both mobile phones and consumer electronics.
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board approved OPPO’s request to open single-brand retail stores in the country. With this decision, OPPO became the first smartphone company to get this opportunity in India.
The Chinese players also handled the post-demonetisation ripples well with high decibel marketing, increased credit line to distributors and efficient channel management.
Global vendors, led by Samsung, were able to withstand the aggressive Chinese players post-demonetisation owing to their good distributor coverage and penetration in the Indian market.
Aiming to gain a further foothold in the offline smartphone market, Xiaomi opened its first “Mi Home” store in Bengaluru in May and plans to add 100 such stores in the next two years.
Similarly, Lenovo-owned Motorola opened six “Moto Hubs” in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai and plans to open 50 more by the end of this year.
Huawei’s sub-brand Honor announced opening four more exclusive service centres in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Guwahati. Its service centres are already operating in 17 cities.
India this year surpassed the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world after China. Yet, according to Counterpoint Research, only one-fourth of India’s population uses smartphones, thus making the country an attractive destination for Chinese players in the mobile ecosystem. IANS
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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)