Micromax calls itself a leading consumer electronics company in India with a special connection to youth. According to me, the company just crossed a line to cash in on the anti-China sentiment making rounds in India.
Micromax recently sent out a media kit for its new “In” series of smartphones. Promoting the lineup as a “bonafide Indian choice,” the kit boasts the tagline “Aao Karein Cheeni Kum.” In India, the word “Cheeni” is used for sugar as well as “Chinese.” With this tagline, Micromax basically sent out the message – Come let’s reduce the Chinese.
Such Racist, Much Wow
Now that I have your attention, it’s not funny. India and China have been in a border conflict for months now, resulting in both countries taking economic hits and suffering a loss of lives. India even banned a bunch of Chinese apps, labeling them as security threats. Thanks to the border tensions and polarized citizens, an anti-China sentiment has been brewing in the country.
While it’s one thing for politicians and the angry common man, a company must hold on to some decency, no matter how much it can profit by letting go of it. Micromax’s In series is a completely Indian phone, says the company, and we get it. However, it’s absolutely wrong to cash in on the sentiments of agitated Indians.
The whole media kit and tweets are built around the new Micromax In Mobile series. We don’t know much about the phone, except that the phones in this lineup are made in India, or at least assembled here. For the uninitiated, Micromax started off in India by importing phones from China, branding them with their logo, and selling them to the Indian audience.
The gig didn’t last long and Micromax vanished from the market, till we heard about the company again. This time, the Indian government chose it as one of the Indian tech companies to receive special incentives under the PLI scheme. It’s safe to say that the Micromax In mobile series is the company’s push to contribute to the total goal of domestic production worth $17 billion.
Micromax, You’re Not Alone!
Sadly so. It’s not just Micromax that is trying to push a product to the Indian audience. The recent PubG ban was also followed by an Indian alternative, FAU-G. The game’s recently released teaser featured a showdown between Indian and Chinese troops, with Indian troops emerging victorious.
While it makes no sense to compare PubG and FAU-G, the latter looks like a story campaign designed to push a narrative. The narrative is again cashing in on anti-China sentiment. All of this feels like companies are trying to make money off the conflict.
It’s good to make in India. If the Indian manufacturing industry is taking this initiative seriously, the market is literally immeasurable. However, there are certain lines that must not be crossed. In the recent past, there were instances where people from North-East India faced racism because of the anti-China outlook and an extremely polarized viewpoint of some Indians.
Race And Tech
If you look at any successful tech company today, you’ll see that its success includes throwing racism out the window. Google, Microsoft, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, name it and there are people of all races and countries contributing to it. This is so because technology doesn’t belong to one person or country.
An iPhone designed in California is manufactured in China and assembled in India. Users see it as an iPhone because it performs and delivers. Even if Micromax has achieved a completely Indian-manufacture and assembled smartphone, the way it’s trying to sell it is dangerous and includes a degree of manipulation of the Indian audience’s sentiment.
In the last few months, China has been blamed for COVID-19 and racist remarks have been made by the general public as well as Presidents of powerful countries. China’s government should be blamed if it’s at fault, but it’s not the fault of the Chinese people, and certainly, companies like Micromax have no right to make such a comment.
I wish my best to the Indian technology scenario. In the end, the sentiments may let some companies sell a few extra units, but the quality, performance, and user-experience of those units would matter in the long run. Let’s hope companies remember that.