The South Asia Channel

Micromax Overtakes Samsung in India; Pakistani Polio Guard Killed; DIA Nominee: Afghan Taliban Likely to Attack Cities

India Samsung loses top position to Micromax in India Micromax Informatics Ltd., an Indian handset maker, has overtaken Samsung Electronics Co., the South Korean company, for the first time in the quarter ending Dec. 31, to became the biggest smartphone brand in India, according to research firm Canalys on Wednesday (WSJ, Reuters, Bloomberg). Compared to ...

INDIA-ECONOMY-MICROMAX-CANVAS
Indian Bollywood actor Chitrangada Singh poses with the newly unveiled Micromax Canvas 4 smartphone in New Delhi on July 8, 2013.The new 5-inch Micromax Canvas 4 powerd by a Cortex A7 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, equipped with 13 megapixel rear camera, 1 GB RAM and an internal storage of 16 gigabytes will be available in Indian markets for Indian rupees 17999 (USD 294). AFP PHOTO/MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

India

Samsung loses top position to Micromax in India

Micromax Informatics Ltd., an Indian handset maker, has overtaken Samsung Electronics Co., the South Korean company, for the first time in the quarter ending Dec. 31, to became the biggest smartphone brand in India, according to research firm Canalys on Wednesday (WSJ, Reuters, Bloomberg). Compared to Samsung’s 20 percent, Micromax accounted for 22 percent of smartphones shipped in the last quarter. India accounts for the world’s third-largest smartphone market by the number of smartphones sold.

Rushabh Doshi, Canalys analyst, said: “Micromax has been quicker than its competitors to improve the appeal of devices, for example, by including a wide variety of local languages on its Unite phones… But vital to success is selling these handsets at low price points to appeal to the bulging mid-level income market in India” (BBC). Samsung disputed Canalys’ findings on Wednesday, and said in statement: “Samsung continues to be a clear leader in the Indian smartphones market. As per GfK data, which is based on actual sales, Samsung’s volume market share in the October-December 2014 quarter was 34.3% and the value market share was 35.8%” (Economic Times). GfK data relies on actual retail sales, compared to Canalys, which tracks shipment data.

Indian woman confronts molester on flight

A video of a 32-year-old Indian woman confronting her alleged molester while traveling on Indigo, an Indian airline carrier, from the western city of Mumbai to the eastern city of Bhubaneshwar went viral on Tuesday after receiving over 1.7 million views (Indian Express, Daily Mail, Times of India). The woman accused the 60-year-old male passenger of putting his hand through the seat gap to touch her. While the man covered his face and apologized, the woman said: “Now you’re feeling very ashamed… No, I am sorry, I am a girl, please forgive me that I was brave enough to travel alone” (NDTV). In a second video taken at the airport, the man is seen defending himself and saying: “Everybody makes mistakes. I made a mistake, a big mistake.” On landing in Bhubaneshwar, the man was arrested and later released on bail.

Indian comedy show taken off YouTube

The producers of AIB, an Indian stand-up comedy group, removed their “roast show” — similar to the U.S.-style roast shows where celebrities are insulted and abused — off YouTube after an intense row on social media, according to news reports on Tuesday (Economic Times, BBC, Indian Express). Filmmaker Karan Johar, along with AIB members, questioned Bollywood actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in front of four thousand people in the western city of Mumbai last month. Although the show got more than eight million views after it was uploaded on YouTube, several Twitter users and right-wing groups protested against the “porn show” and its “below the belt” jokes. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a regional political party, has asked the actors to apologize over the show. Also, the Maharashtra government has ordered an inquiry into the contents of the show. The controversy has resulted in several hashtags on Twitter, with critics using #AIBNationalShame and supporters using #WeStandByAIBknockout.

–Neeli Shah

Pakistan

Policeman killed while guarding polio vaccinators

On Wednesday, a policeman guarding polio vaccinators was shot and killed on the outskirts of Quetta (ET, Dawn). The policeman was not on duty at the time but was targeted during the break for prayer. Another police official stated: “He took a break to offer prayers and was returning to the Basic Health Unit when two armed men on a motorbike opened fire on him.” A child was injured in the attack and the attackers escaped.

Gunmen kill five customs officials

Early Wednesday morning, unidentified gunmen shot and killed five customs officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohat city (ET, Dawn). The gunmen attacked after midnight. Sohaib Ashraf, the district police chief in Kohat, told Agence France Press: “Three gunmen fired at the customs team indiscriminately. Four officials died on the spot and another succumbed to his injuries in hospital later.” Ashraf called the attack an act of terrorism.

Schools with poor security to be shut down

On Tuesday, Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho said that schools with inadequate security would be shut down (Dawn). Pechuho said that some schools had not complied with standard operating procedure regarding security and had put up disconnected security cameras just for show. The comments follow fire cracker blasts outside two Karachi schools on Tuesday.

Afghanistan

DIA nominee: Afghan Taliban likely to attack cities

During his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart the nominee to head the United States’ Defense Intelligence Agency testified that the Taliban were likely to conduct attacks in cities as Afghan security forces secured rural areas (Pajhwok). Lt. Gen. Stewart stated: “However, the Taliban, Al-Qaida, and their extremist allies will likely seek to exploit the reduced coalition presence by pressuring ANSF units in rural areas, conducting high-profile attacks in major population centers and expanding their safe havens.” He warned that the Taliban would be able to conduct high profile attacks in cities through 2018. On Wednesday, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security arrested two suicide attackers armed with motorcycles carrying explosives (TOLO News). The attackers reportedly confessed that they received their orders from Taliban commander Mawlawi Rohullah.

Four mines in Kandahar opened for bidding

Four mines in southern Kandahar have been opened to bidding for the rights to launch surveying and extraction despite security worries according to a report in Pajhwok Afghan News on Tuesday (Pajhwok). The mines include one zinc mine, one lead mine, and two talc mines. So far no company has yet made a bid. An official interviewed by Pajhwok Afghan News blamed the lack of activity on insecurity and a lack of experienced personnel.

Activists protest lack of women in cabinet

On Tuesday, dozens of female activists gathered in Kabul to protest the absence of women among the members of the cabinet confirmed so far (TOLO News). One third of the available cabinet seats have been filled with confirmed nominees so far after a long and contentious process. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah had previously agreed to reserve four cabinet seats for women, yet so far no women are among the confirmed cabinet members. Ghani only introduced three women nominees, two of whom were rejected on dual citizenship grounds and one of whom failed to pass a vote of confidence in Afghanistan’s legislature. Mahbooba Saraj, one of the activists at the protest, stated: “We participated widely in the elections and now we demand our right which is nine ministries.”

— David Sterman

Edited by Peter Bergen

MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

Neeli Shah is a Washington D.C.-based economics, law, and policy professional. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. @neelishah

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