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These Are The 5 Reasons Why Indian Smartphones Are Smarter

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By Rajaram Suresh:

The superiority of any technological design lies in its ability to bypass a cheaper duplicate and cement itself amidst cut-throat competition. Technology is no stranger to dethronement. But what makes it interesting is the déjà vu associated with its rise and fall. The world witnessed Samsung snatching the Smartphone market from Nokia. One can’t help but muse about the time when it was Samsung’s turn to pass the baton.

The advent of Indian smartphones wasn’t quite a prelude to what was to follow. However, names like Micromax, Karbonn, and Celkon, slithered into the market unnoticed, eventually springing serious threats to front-runners like Samsung, HTC, and Blackberry.

smartphones

What do they have in them that sway the masses in their favour?

‘Smart’ Marketing:
These companies have become a stellar example of the importance of marketing in sales. Their marketing strategy has been so successful that cricket matches have now become synonymous with mobile ads. They started out with the biggest sporting phenomenon in India — IPL. Thanks to sponsored strategic timeouts and other contests, viewers began identifying these bands subconsciously. After regularly sponsoring bilateral series’ involving India, roping in cricket stars, and occupying most of the ad-footage between overs, the face of say, a Virat Kohli, became synonymous with Celkon Mobiles. Creative visualizations involving glossy phones that splash the screens with colours, have become an instant hit with the masses, attributing to a sizeable portion of their sales.

It’s Cheap!
They set out to attack the root of the problem — pricing. No matter how cheap the phones are, there will always exist a poorer customer who has to settle for less. While branding was still given paramount importance in India, the Indian mobile companies entered by exploiting the sheer lure of intelligent pricing. He, who can’t shell 20,000 rupees for a phone, is oblivious to the concept of branding. His fascination lies in the Smartphone with a colour display, camera and internet — a fascination which was identified smartly and promptly. Samsung tried churning out cheaper models too, but it proved hard to beat the meagre price-to-specification ratio set by its Indian counterparts.

How often do we change phones?
Just like humans, technology evolves — and extremely fast. A decade ago, India would have mistook a 1GB RAM phone for a computer. The growth of technology since then has been exponential. Not surprisingly, people’s preferences evolve just as fast. Given the current rate of growth, a current model might no longer have the best specifications post a year and a half. If I’m changing my phone every year, what’s the point of shelling a fortune to buy them? It is this logic of the Indian middle-class that has always been tough to refute. Cheaper phones are just a way to reinforce their rationale.

Look-Alikes
Gone are the days when owning a huge, flashy Korean handset invited dirty looks from elitists. Today, slimmer and bigger smartphones are the automatic choice. With a large size, the complexity in cover design is comparatively brought down, rendering replication easier. One definitely can’t judge a smartphone by its cover, since most of them look alike from the outside. If how a phone looks reflects its worth, then it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish which phone is costly and which isn’t.

Specifications
The final nail in the coffin — when there are two phones which do the same things and look the same, why would a customer consider the costlier alternative? In a country where middle-class is the dominant buying strata, this question can’t be more sensible. For example, Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos and Micromax A116 both are Dual Sim phones with a 5’’ display, and running Jellybean, with an 8.0 MP camera and 1 GB RAM, but the latter is cheaper by over 6,000 rupees. While there is a difference in the feel of the handset, one couldn’t gauge the value of the model purely by sight.

While the premium laid on quality will continue to stand the test of time, successful sales of a product is a different ball-game altogether. A costlier phone is of a higher quality, but does it delve deep into the society, through numerous barriers, to reach its buyers? If a costly phone isn’t better, then what is? The ability of a company to tailor products for the consumer measures its success. After all, goods are produced in order to be purchased, and not the other way round.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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