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Why Tim Cook is bullish on the Indian middle class

At third place, Apple had 25 per cent market share in the third quarter (ending September 30) as it launched flagship iPhones XS and XS Max in India.

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Tim Cook

New Delhi, Nov 6 : Breaking his silence on Apple’s India presence, CEO Tim Cook admitted last week that his business was flat in the country in the fourth quarter amid weak currency trends. Cook, however, stressed he is still a big believer in the Indian middle class.

Essentially price-conscious, India, with 450 million users, is the fastest-growing smartphone market, just after China and the US, and has the potential to continue growing in double digits in the next couple of years.

According to industry analysts, Cook is aware of the immense potential in the country and would fully utilise the aspirational value of the brand as saturation sets in in the rest of the smartphone economies.

That day appears not too far when Apple, with its deep pockets, will unleash its energies as its own stores arrive and the company starts manufacturing new iPhones locally.

Cook’s optimism is underlined by the fact that Apple’s share in the premium segment is dipping as new players like China’s OnePlus appear on the scene in a market where South Korea’s Samsung had reigned supreme.

At third place, Apple had 25 per cent market share in the third quarter (ending September 30) as it launched flagship iPhones XS and XS Max in India.

According to Counterpoint Research, the new devices are unlikely to offset the high import duty owing to absence of local manufacturing as this made new iPhones expensive as compared to their pricing in other key countries.

“2018 is all set to be the first year for Apple in India when they will go through their first ever annual decline in India in terms of volume. We expect iPhone sales to be between 2-2.5 million as compared to more than three million last year,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint, told IANS.

There are multiple factors for this.

“First, the year started for Apple with multiple duty hikes on imported handsets. This led to an increase in iPhones prices as Apple is yet to assemble locally, barring a couple of models where volume contribution is low,” Pathak explained.

Additionally, said Pathak, Apple has streamlined its channel strategy in a bid to offer more stable pricing which had some short-term implications but can turn out positive for long term.

Cook expects that at some point, the Indian government will allow Apple to bring its stores into the country.

According to Pathak, Apple’s strategy of bringing in their own stores has been delayed.

“It means Apple needs to put in extra efforts to unleash more potential out of the India market and this is likely to happen. Once price stability comes in, a lot of things will eventually start settling in,” Pathak told IANS.

According to experts, India has a large untapped user base in Tier II and Tier III cities and beyond, and Cook is aware of the tremendous growth opportunity there.

According to Upasana Joshi, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India, the older models have done better for Apple in India than the recent launches, owing to price cuts and discounts offered on them, thus driving affordability.

“With the change in strategy for India market by focusing more on current line-up of models and phasing out the previous ones, it will further reduce the volumes for the brand as the larger proportion of its sales would move to high end,” Joshi told IANS.

Currently, said Joshi, it is important for any smartphone brand to establish surface-mount technology (SMT) type manufacturing facility to reduce the impact of duty hikes on imports and sustain with currency fluctuation which, according to Cook, are just “speed bumps”.

SMT is a method for producing electronic circuits in which the components are mounted or placed directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs).

“This is true especially for brands like Apple which have lower volume base as compared to Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo and OPPO who have set up such facilities locally.

“Also, introduction of a mid-end device or re-focusing on selling older models might help Apple regain its lost share in India in the coming quarters,” Joshi noted.

Apple is an aspirational brand and usually bought by those who have high spending power or can compromise on older generation phones for affordability.

“If Apple aims to target the Indian middle class, it will have to launch products which are a bit more pocket-friendly where consumers can still feel sense of the pride for ownership as they currently do with cheaper iPhones,” said Joshi.

Cook said that he is “a big believer in India, very bullish on the country and the people and our ability to do well there”.

The Apple chief may be looking to realign its India polices next year, creating an ecosystem for the large middle class which is inundated with cheaper Chinese premium smartphones and won’t mind spending some more for Apple devices produced locally.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at [email protected] )

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Once dreaded ‘queen of outlaws’ Phoolan now a ‘veerangana’

Phoolan Devi emerged as an icon for the Nishad community (boatmen) but after her brutal death in 2001, the community was not given adequate representation by political parties.

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phoolan devi Bandit Queen

Bandit queen-turned-politician Phoolan Devi has been conferred the title of ‘veerangana’ (a brave warrior) by the Eklavya Welfare Society in Jalaun district.

Phoolan’s native village Garha Ka Purwa is located in Jalaun district and the Eklavya Welfare Society represents the Nishad community to which Phoolan belonged.

“The title of Veerangna has been conferred on Phoolan Devi because she was a true warrior — she fought for her honour and later, for the welfare of the oppressed.

“She deserves her and the young generations need to be told about her contribution. We will soon install her statue here,” said Gopalm Nishad, a member of the Eklavya Welfare Society.

Phoolan Devi, a bandit in the ravines across Uttar Pradesh and present Chhattisgarh and also Madhya Pradesh, had hit the headlines when she massacred 22 Thakurs in Behmai in Kanpur in February 1981 to avenge her sexual exploitation by a Thakur gang led by Lala Ram and Sri Ram.

In 1994, then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh withdrew the cases against Phoolan and she contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from Mirzapur in 1996 on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

Phoolan Devi emerged as an icon for the Nishad community (boatmen) but after her brutal death in 2001, the community was not given adequate representation by political parties.

The Nishad community constitutes about 4.5 per cent of the state’s population and are known to be among the Most Backward Castes (MBC).

The Nishad community has a sizeable population in about 40 assembly segments. Since the past one decade, they are trying to be included in the Scheduled Caste’s category but their demand has been caught in legal hassles.

An attempt was made to install Phoolan’s statue in Gorakhpur in 2016 but the attempt was foiled by the district administration that claimed that requisite permission for same had not been obtained.

The issue had revived an intense caste war between OBCs and MBCs in Uttar Pradesh.

Last year, Phoolan’s mother, Moola Devi, 90, who still lives in the village in abject poverty, had released the Chambal Manifesto on the eve of Lok Sabha elections to press for development of the Chambal region.

The 4-page manifesto was a compilation of the demands for the region which included the formation of the Chambal Commission for a scientific study of the issues and challenges faced by the people living in Chambal region along with solutions.

More than 40 years after she picked up the gun and turned into a bandit, following a dispute over four bighas of land with her cousin Maya Din, Phoolan Devi’s family in her native village in Jalaun district is still waiting to reclaim that elusive piece of land.

Meanwhile, the land that was initially owned by Phoolan’s father, Devi Din Mallah, and after his death, it still eludes her mother Moola Devi as the rightful owner.

Maya Din, son of late Devi Din’s elder brother allegedly grabbed the plot and did not allow Phoolan’s mother to till the land. Maya Din claimed the land was passed on to him as legacy.

Moola Devi said, “My daughter Phoolan fought with Maya Din for this land. Maya Din and his men ridiculed her and hurled abuses at her. She got together some girls from the village and staged a dharna on the land. The village elders tried to remove her from the land but failed. Then Maya Din hurled a brick at her and she fell unconscious. After this, she became a ‘baaghi’ (rebel).”

It is said that Maya Din ‘sold’ her off to Lal Ram and Shri Ram — heads of a Thakur gang of dacoits — who not only raped her but also held her captive.

A few years later, Phoolan Devi fell in love with another dacoit Vikram Mallah, who was later killed by the Lala Ram and Shri Ram gang.

To avenge the wrong done to her by the Thakur gang, Phoolan Devi gradually built up her own gang and the rest, as they say, is history.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Theme, Date and history of the day

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It is celebrated on December 3 all around the world. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

IDPD mobilizes support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, promotes awareness-raising about disability issues and draws attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.

UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are motivated to support IDPD by collaborating with organizations for people with disabilities to arrange events and activities.

International Day of People with Disability: Theme

The theme for IDPwD 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

Every year the UN announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability. The annual theme provides an overarching focus on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

This has been occurring since 1992 when the General Assembly announced 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons.

National Disability Strategy 2010–2020

In Australia, the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 commits all governments to a nationwide approach aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, their families and carers.

The Strategy’s ten-year national framework for reform concentrates on better inclusion for people with disabilities and seeks to create a society that enables people with disabilities to fulfill their potential as equal citizens.

On the 2012 International Day of People with Disability, the United Kingdom government introduced mandatory work for disabled people who received welfare benefits in order to “Improve disabled peoples chances of getting work by mandatory employment”.

A program is also launched on December 3 across India to serve the differently-able community of the country as an initiative called Accessible India Campaign under the Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

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BJP leaders brainstorm for second day, say govt ready for talks with farmers

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam.

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Farmers on Protest

Eager to break the deadlock with famers who are agitating for scrapping the new farm laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership held meetings for a second consecutive day on Monday and sent out the message that the Union government is ready for talks.

Union home minister Amit Shah met Union minister for agriculture, NS Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam. A senior party functionary said, “The message from the top is clear that the laws are not anti-farmers and that the farmers are being misled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that laws will offer better opportunity for the farmers.”

The functionary said the government is ready to sit across the table and discuss the new laws and “address whatever concerns” the farmers have.

Speaking in Varanasi, the PM on Monday said the laws have given farmers new options and legal protection. He lashed out at the opposition for “misleading” the farmers and said earlier decisions of government were opposed now rumours have become the basis for opposition and propaganda is being served even though the laws favour the farmers.

The party has also opted for a cautious, measured response to the agitation. Even though it is pinning the blame on the opposition for provoking the protest, it is taking care not to rile the farmers. “The farmers are innocent. They are being misled by those with vested interests. The laws have barely been implemented and their impact is yet to be ascertained, so how can people rush to call these anti-farmers,” said Rajkuamr Chahar, head of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha.

He said the Punjab unit of the Morcha has been communicating with the farmers’ representatives and has relayed the government’s willingness to address their concerns.

On Monday, even as the party tried to diffuse the anger against the bills, its ally the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) joined the chorus for the rollback of the laws. Rajasthan lawmaker and RLP chief, Hanuman Beniwal, shot off a letter to Shah, seeking the reversal of the laws.

“….In view of the countrywide sentiment in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement, the recently introduced three bills related to agriculture should be immediately withdrawn. (The Centre must) implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and immediately hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi,” he said.

The BJP, however, played down the ally’s demand. Its national spokesperson on economic issues, Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “We assure all, including our NDA partners that farmers’ well-being and welfare are in our heart. Large scale market reforms are needed and that has always been the consensus.”

He went on to add that while the BJP opposes misgivings about the APMC mandis being dismantled and MSP being withdrawn, the opposition is politicizing the issue along with the Arhtiyas (commission agents) and middleman.

“We have offered all the basic facilities to farmers, drinking water, toilets, shelters and medical facilities. They have been given permission to protest and also been invited for dialogue. We are open for all discussions on the merits or demerits of the three bills. If farmers have certain serious concerns, we are ready to listen to them,” he said.

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