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ASHRAAFI MUSLIMS USING CASTEISM FOR OWN BENEFIT

Muslim thinker Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie says Pasmanda Muslims have always identified themselves with Hindu customs & traditions as they have co-existed with them for centuries now

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Representational image: Muslims offer Eid al-Adha prayers at the Jama Masjid

Social activist and Unani doctor, Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie, has ruffled many feathers among India’s Muslim community. He has become a marked man with his mother getting threatening phone calls about the safety of her outspoken son.

Hailing from a family of freedom fighters, who were closely aligned to the Congress, Fyzie has been often found supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is also the man who is putting the hitherto hidden problem of casteism among Muslims on the frontline of debate and discussions in India.

On the occasion of India’s 75th independence anniversary, India Narrative speaks with Fyzie about raging topics like Hindu-Muslim relations, social harmony, the Modi government’s relations with the minority community and why the Muslims do not discuss caste discrimination within the community as fervently as the Hindus discuss their own relationship with caste. Fyzie says that almost all Muslim bodies are undemocratic and represent the views of the miniscule upper caste Muslims.


Excerpts from the interview:

IN: We complete 75 years of independence. Where has Indian society reached in these decades?

Fyzie: Socially India has progressed. We have completed a satisfactory journey till now. I will say we have done better than average.

I say this because the political dispensation and the administration have tried to deliver social justice in the country. Efforts at eliminating social inequity were more pronounced among the Hindus than among the Muslims because even the Brahmins agreed that the upper castes have wronged the low castes. But the leaders among the Muslim community do not allow the low caste Muslims to break out of the social barriers because they deny caste and discrimination among Muslims.

I will say that people professing the ideologies of the Left, liberal and Muslim right wing did not allow the Muslims at the lowest socio-economic ladder to come up in the social hierarchy because of personal selfish gains.

I, as an Indian, as a Muslim and as an individual from a low socio-economic class would say that the country is on the right track in terms of uplifting the society. This is because government schemes have benefited low caste Muslims while schemes targeted at minorities have only benefited the upper caste Muslims because they garnered the gains from such schemes.

IN: You speak about caste-based fissures among Muslims. Can you elaborate about casteism in the community?

Fyzie: We look at this from the context of caste among the Hindus—which is largely-occupation based discrimination.

Among the Muslims the highest caste of people are the Ashraafs—which comprise the ruling classes in India who came from abroad. Here we also have the Rajputs who had converted as they too were the ruling class in India.

Next come the Ajlaaf—most of the working class of people comprising weavers, ironsmiths and artisans.

The lowest in the Muslim castes are Arjaals—sweepers, scavengers and those who work with leather.

Among these three castes in the Muslims, we have clubbed the Ajlaafs and the Arjaals together as the ‘Pasmanda’ Muslims. I call them ‘desaj samaj’ or indigenous Muslims. These are the Hindus from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), the SCs and STs who converted to Islam.

The Ashraafs—the upper caste Muslims say that casteism in the community seeped in from the Hindus. This is a widely-accepted view among the Left, the Hindus and everyone else. But I do not agree with this argument—I ask them that after having lived with the Hindus for centuries you only absorbed the vice of caste from the Hindus. Why did Muslims not absorb the positives—liberal values, secularism and harmony, from Hinduism? It is because the Muslims had their own discriminatory practices based on classes, races and sects as it spread from the Arab world.

IN: Do the Muslims in the other countries of the sub-continent also practice casteism, for example, in Pakistan and Bangladesh?

Fyzie: Both Pakistan and Bangladesh are basically India. Therefore, the caste issues that we see in India are to be found there also. However, in India, the constitution and government schemes have improved our social condition. In Pakistan, the Pasmanda Muslims are in a bad shape because the rulers treat them like slaves.

Pakistan is a heaven for the ruling Ashraaf Muslims while it is a hell for the Pasmanda Muslims.

We have to go back to the Arab world and the pre-Islamic tribes to understand casteism and discrimination among the Muslims. Though Prophet Mohammed tried to control racism related issues, he could only succeed partly.

We have to understand that the Saudis, the Turks, the Iranians, and now the Afghans, have practiced discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity. What I am trying to say is that discrimination exists in Islam from ancient times. It is not entirely a Hindu import.

IN: Why is it that casteism among Muslims is not discussed by the community as it has been discussed and debated within the Hindus?

Fyzie: The Muslims do not want to discuss casteism in Islam. The Ashraafs—the Muslim upper castes, want to protect their turf. They feel that social justice in India will take the power out of their hands. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) does not hold elections because its luminaries fear that they will lose control. In fact, no Muslim organisation has democracy.

Even if the Muslims are a minority in India, the benefits go to a small section of upper caste Muslims. A low caste Muslim finds it easy to get admission to the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) but not in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) because the Muslim leaders have cornered the benefits for themselves.

That is why the low caste Muslims—the Pasmandas, do not want minority status. We do not want benefits based on our religious identity. We can only uplift ourselves through government schemes that provide us socio-economic benefits.

IN: You say that Indian society has made progress. We also have many Muslim activists and NGOs, so how is it possible that Muslims from the lowest classes and castes have not progressed?

Fyzie: No social reforms exist among the Muslims. There is no concept of social justice in the community because it is led by the upper caste Muslims. There is no discussion or acceptance of criticism in the community.

The NGOs are all run by the Ashraafs. They run such organisations under the garb of ideologies—Left, minority and some are run by Maulanas. Yeh sab log aapna varchasv banaye rakhna chahtein hain (They all want to maintain their hegemony).

When I contrast the situation with the Hindus, I find they realise the need for social reforms. That is why they accept the evil of casteism and debate its elimination. Indians have always been diverse for 5,000 years. They do not bother about the differences and have accepted diversity.

We feel that we are still being led by Mughal rulers. Would you believe that the low caste Muslims were not allowed to go to madrasas by the Mughal rulers. Similar examples of discrimination and racism against the low caste Muslims abound in times of Islamic rule.

IN: Is India becoming communal?

Fyzie: If the Hindus are becoming communal, they talk about it and then take steps to eliminate it. But then we also see that communalism among the Muslims is not discussed. The fact is that communalism among the Muslims is very strong.

For example, the Muslim League was formed much earlier than the Hindu Mahasabha.

My take is that if you want to finish off communalism from India, then you have to eliminate Muslim communalism first. The communal thinking among the Hindus will reduce on its own.

IN: Do you think India is becoming Islamophobic?

Fyzie: Regarding Islamophobia in India, the Ashraafs use Islamophobia as a tool. The moment you talk about social reforms and social justice among the Muslims, the upper caste Muslims begin alleging Islamophobia. If you ruffle the Muslim society by talking about reforms, the Muslim right wing immediately labels you Islamophobic.

These concepts are harming the Indian social fabric. The secular, Left and liberal establishments accept whatever is said by the upper caste Muslims.

There are Hindus who are communal but they are very less in number.

IN: The BJP government has been criticised over a number of policy decisions it has taken related to the Muslim community. What is your take on these?

Fyzie: I think the Modi government has taken steps to bring about reforms in the community.

Banning triple talaq has benefited the Pasmanda Muslims, particularly women. Divorce among the lower levels in the community brings shame not just to the woman but her family also. Divorce and remarriage are acceptable among the upper classes, but not among the people at the bottom of the hierarchy.

The elimination of Article 370 will benefit the Pasmanda Muslims. Certain castes or sections of Muslims like the Bakkerwals, the Gaddis and the Van Gujjars will be benefited. Till now all the political power in Kashmir was with the Ashraafs. The low caste Muslims did not enjoy the benefits of government schemes in Kashmir.

IN: Can there be truth and reconciliation among the Muslims and Hindus? How can we see religious harmony among the communities?

Fyzie: Jab aap Pasmanda samaj ko aage karanege tab aasani se Hinduon aur Mussalmano mein samjhota hoga (If you uplift the Pasmanda Muslims, harmony will happen automatically between the Hindus and Muslims).

We have to remember that the low caste Muslims have always identified themselves with Hindu customs and traditions because they have co-existed with the Hindus for ages. The Pasmanda Muslims will wear sarees, use sindur, and gift shringar during weddings—all of which are Hindu customs. But the high caste Muslims call these Hinduana (Hindu beliefs), therefore, gair-Islamic (non-Islamic).

This cultural discrimination has remained within the Islamic society because of Ashraafs.

Truth and reconciliation will happen if the Ashraafs are controlled. They still act as if they are the rulers, therefore, they look at us with the same mentality. When they go abroad, they give hate speeches against India and portray the Hindus in a negative light.

I think India has progressed well till now. In my opinion, the country has a bright future in terms of social progress and harmony between faiths. Meri rai mein 1947 se aab tak ka safar aacha hai (In my opinion, the journey from 1947 till now has been good).

I am optimistic about a bright future of India. Inshaallah!

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Threads surpasses 150M monthly active users, reveals mark Zuckerberg

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Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Threads, Meta’s text-based conversation app, boasts over 150 million monthly active users, positioning it as a competitor to Elon Musk’s X (formerly known as Twitter). The monthly active user count for Threads surged from around 100 million users in October last year to 130 million in February.

At an earnings meeting for Meta, Zuckerberg said: “[Threads] continues to be on the trajectory that I hope to see.” He said in July that he expected Threads to become the next billion-user social network in Meta’s apps suite which also includes Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. Since Threads’ launch last year, Meta has been working on creating a range of new features like a fully functional web application, keyword search, trending topics, edit button, voice posts, and the ability to support multiple accounts.

Additionally, the company has been boosting Threads’ posts on its video and photo-sharing platform, Instagram, in order to expand its social network .In March this year, Meta took a significant stride towards fulfilling its commitment to enhance interoperability for Threads. It started allowing users in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Japan to share their posts to the ‘fediverse’. The fediverse comprises decentralised social networks, such as Mastodon, that can interact with one another using the ActivityPub protocol.

The feature will be available to all users with public profiles above the age of 18 in these countries. Meta is testing a Threads API, aiming to empower creators, developers, and brands to construct their own distinctive integrations, efficiently manage their Threads presence, and distribute content to their communities. Meta’s API empowers developers to authenticate, publish posts, and retrieve their own content. Additionally, the company has recently introduced reply management capabilities, enabling users to access responses to their posts, configure reply settings, and conceal or reveal specific replies.

In a blog posted earlier this month, the company said, “Insights are one of our top requested features for the API, so we are making it possible for people to fetch key metrics for their posts, including the number of likes or views. We are also working on webhooks, which will allow developers to receive real-time notifications when certain events occur on the platform, such as a reply to a given post.” Meta said it is currently working with companies such as Grabyo, Hootsuite, Social News Desk, Sprinklr, Sprout Social, and Techmeme, with plans to make the API available by the end of June this year.

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PAUL JOHN NIRVANA BAGS GOLD MEDAL IN PRESTIGIOUS LONDON SPIRITS COMPETITION

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John Distilleries Ltd.’s Paul John single malt whiskey ‘Nirvana’ has been awarded “Gold” medal in the prestigious London Spirits Competition 2024. JDL’s two other offerings – Roulette London Dry Gin and Paul John XO Brandy – have also won ‘Silver’ medals. JDL is the only Indian company to have been awarded in three different categories – whiskey, gin and brandy. “We are honored to have been awarded at the London Spirits Competition. It is indeed a privilege to be appreciated for the quality of our products,” said JDL Chairman and Managing Director Mr. Paul P John.

JDL is one of the most awarded Indian companies internationally as it has bagged various prestigious awards in the events like the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the World Whiskey Awards and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The London Spirits Competition, organized by the Beverage Trade Network, aims to recognize and promote spirits brands that resonate with consumers and offer value for both trade buyers and end consumers.

Judging criteria include quality, value for money, and packaging appeal.

Paul John Nirvana

From the Goan shores of India, Paul John Nirvana is an unpeated expression bottled at an ABV of 40% and is created from Indian 6-row barley and matured in charred American oak casks.

Every expression of Paul John Whisky including Nirvana do not have any added flavours or colours. ‘Nirvana is an expression for those willing and keen to experience single malts, especially for the first time. Its exotic richness is sure to captivate whisky connoisseurs and amateurs equally.’ – Paul P John, Chairman. Soft aromas of caramel, bourbon and fruitcake, flavours of succulent vanilla and sweet honeycomb enhance the sublime and honeyed finish.

Nirvana ensures a captivating experience beyond the worldly realm. Created for those who seek greater heights and who enjoy creating their own path Nirvana was aptly named because it is an expression for those who discover happiness in their purpose of being. Paul John XO 100% Indian Grape Brandy Following the success of Paul John Whisky, Paul P John, Chairman of John Distilleries, ventured into the premium brandy segment with the release of

Paul John XO, a 100% Indian Grape Brandy

Paul John XO is made from the famed Ugni Blanc and the rich Bangalore purple grape. The brandy is matured in specially selected, medium toasted new French limousine oak barrels.

With gentle honeyed aromas, orange zest and a touch of herbs that enhance the tender raisin and sweet oak flavours, the exotic Paul John XO is matured and distilled in Goa. Paul John XO is bottled at 46% ABV and was released in October 2019 across select countries including USA, Europe, UK, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and India & many more.

Roulette Dry Gin

Roulette is a first choice for those who have a fresh take on life. People who love to experiment and are unafraid to try new things. Discover the perfect balance of versatility and flavour. With its juniper forward profile, it’s ideal for sipping or mixing. Whether you’re enjoying it neat or with a mixer, its refreshing and easy-going character shines through.

Roulette’s effervescent charm and juniper-rich taste elevates any occasion, be it before or after sunset. Roulette London Dry Gin uses all three types of distillation methods for extracting the botanical’s flavours. Our Gin production is further elevated by the exceptional Muller Pot Still, a masterpiece handcrafted and custom-made in Germany.

This 500 liter copper pot still is a small batch wonder and one of world’s finest. What sets it apart is its patented AROMAT technology that elevates our handcrafted liquid to extraordinary heights.

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Nepalese Tycoon Binod Chaudhary who sold ‘WaiWai’ plans to list India unit by 2026

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The firm, boasting a 28% share in the local instant noodles market and generating an annual revenue of 8 billion rupees ($96.2 million), is in preliminary talks regarding its listing plans. The aims is to achieve a 15% revenue growth this year.”

Nepalese billionaire Binod Chaudhary, who made his fortune selling instant noodles, is seeking to list his conglomerate Chaudhary Group’s India food unit by 2026. The Gurgaon-based firm, known for its Wai Wai brand of noodles that rivals market leader Maggi from Nestle Ltd. and ITC Ltd.’s Yippee, “would be ready to go for a sizable listing” in the next two years after rolling out new products and acquiring smaller firms in the noodle-related industry, Manvendra Shukla, global chief executive officer at CG Foods India Pvt., said in an interview. He didn’t share any other details. The listing plans for the firm, which has a 28 per cent share in the local instant noodles market and an annual revenue of Rs 8 billion ($96.2 million), are still in the early stages of discussion, he added. It aims to grow its revenue by 15 per cent this year.

CG Foods India’s initial public offering plans follow a rush among foodmakers, including packaged food products maker Gopal Snacks Ltd. and animal protein maker Mukka Proteins Ltd., that have gone public in the past year. The sector has seen the second-highest number of IPOs in India in the past 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. The mini-IPO boom is being fueled by investors attracted to India’s relative political stability and its status as the fastest-growing major economy amid the slowing pace of expansion in China.

The noodle maker, however, is not rushing to list and plans to bolster its market share and product portfolio first. The company is also looking to buy smaller companies that make seasonings, dips or ketchups, Shukla said.

‘Not Replicated’ Chaudhary Group launched the Wai Wai noodle four decades ago in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, and has since grown to become India’s third-largest brand. Wai Wai is known for its preseasoned noodle — it comes with a layer of spice in addition to the seasoning pouches in the packet — which means it can also be munched on as a snack without cooking it. “We have something which is not replicated yet in the market,” Shukla said. CG Foods India currently has seven plants across the country, with Nepal and India contributing over 80 per cent to the group’s food sales. The firm expects to add production lines as volumes continue to grow in India where sales of snacks and soft drinks almost tripled over the past decade in India, exceeding 30 billion dollars. It launched two flavors last month, including a spicier variant called Dynamite, inspired by the Korean cuisine. More products are in the pipeline, including healthier noodle options, according to Shukla.

“It is a flavor battle,” he said.

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Summer Sizzles, Sales Rise, Indian Consumer Firms Gear Up

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Blue Star intensifies its product offerings with a plethora of new home air conditioner models, targeting a remarkable 25% revenue boost in the air conditioning segment, led by Managing Director B. Thiagarajan.

As temperatures soar across India, consumer goods companies are gearing up for what promises to be an exceptionally hot summer. With forecasts predicting an increase in heatwave days, reaching temperatures of at least 40 degrees Celsius in the plains, from April through June, businesses are seizing the opportunity to meet the rising demand for cooling solutions.

Blue Star, a leading appliances maker, has launched a myriad of new home air conditioner models to cater to the anticipated surge in demand. Managing Director B. Thiagarajan aims for a substantial 25% revenue growth from the air conditioning segment, a significant jump from last year’s 5%.

Similarly, renowned ice cream brand Baskin Robbins is rolling out 20 new products in India ahead of the scorching summer months.

Analysts foresee a substantial impact on consumer discretionary spending, particularly on products like air conditioners, fans, refrigerators, and cooling appliances. This surge in demand is expected to reflect robust growth numbers for the first quarter of the fiscal year for companies operating in this sector.

Traditionally, less than 10% of Indian households own air conditioners, but the combination of the hotter summer forecast and new product launches is expected to drive up this figure. Many first-time buyers are entering the market, driven by the desire for temperature-controlled comfort, particularly in light of the extreme temperatures experienced in various parts of the country.

Advertising expenditure is also on the rise, with companies like Blue Star and Baskin Robbins significantly increasing their budgets to capitalize on the heightened demand. Television and online advertising are key avenues for reaching consumers during this period.

Beyond manufacturers, delivery and service providers are also experiencing a surge in demand. Grocery delivery apps like Zepto, Swiggy, and Zomato’s Blinkit are witnessing increased orders for hydrating fruits, beverages, and ice creams as consumers seek relief from the heat.

With the summer months typically leading to increased beer consumption, breweries are gearing up for heightened production and distribution challenges. Carlsberg India’s Managing Director Nilesh Patel highlights the need for careful planning to meet the rising demand.

While the harsh weather may drive up vegetable prices and potentially curtail outdoor spending, analysts anticipate that consumers will continue to indulge in small luxuries like cold beverages and ice cream to find relief from the heat.

Overall, Indian consumer goods companies are bracing themselves for a lucrative summer season, with both manufacturers and service providers working tirelessly to meet the heightened demand for cooling products and refreshments.

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Aerospace parts maker JJG Aero raises $12 mn to hike capacity

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Bengaluru-based aerospace components manufacturer, JJG Aero, has secured USD 12 million (Rs100 crore) in inaugural funding from CX Partners which will be used primarily to increase its new facility’s manufacturing capacity, further vertical integration and other corporate initiatives.

Established in 2008, JJG Aero specializes in manufacturing build-to-print high-precision machined components, with in-house special process finishing capabilities. The funding comes at a time when the aerospace supply chain is facing all-time high demand from aircraft manufacturers, which legacy vendors in the Western world are struggling to meet. The global geopolitical issues, economic stability and Government support make India ideally placed to benefit from this deal.

The company has spent a decade in building best-in-class capabilities, processes, compliance standards, and customer relationships and obtaining requisite approvals and certifications, and we are now in the right place to grow rapidly. Anuj Jhunjhunwala, CEO, JJG Aero sees the company’s strengths and value proposition enabling them to emerge as a key player in the aerospace ecosystem. “India has emerged as an attractive destination for sourcing components and parts by global leaders and we are excited to be selected by so many marquee clients as a strategic growth vendor” says Jhunjhunwala. This investment will enable JJG Aero not only to continue on its growth path through capacity addition but also to upgrade the quality of earnings by focusing on higher value-added components.

Vivek Chhachhi, Managing Partner, CX Partners also notes that with its foray into the manufacture of aero-engine components, JJG Aero is well-positioned to capitalize on these opportunities and further solidify its presence in the market.

From simple 2-axis to complex 5-axis machining, JJG Aero offers a wide range of manufacturing services, complemented by over 30 NADCAP-approved special processes, including electroplating, anodizing, paint, and NDT. Moreover, the company provides assembly, testing, and other value-added services to its esteemed client base.

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Tesla eyes India market as Elon Musk makes bold AI prediction

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In a recent X Spaces session with Nicolai Tangen, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management, Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized the importance of electric vehicles (EVs) in India, stating that it’s a natural progression for every country to embrace them. Musk highlighted India’s status as the most populous country globally and stressed that electric cars should be accessible to Indian consumers like they are in other parts of the world.

Musk’s comments coincide with Tesla’s intensified efforts to expand its presence in the Indian market. Sources reveal that the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat have extended enticing land offers to Tesla for the establishment of a cutting-edge EV manufacturing plant. The proposed investment for this venture ranges between USD 2 billion to USD 3 billion, demonstrating Tesla’s commitment to both domestic and international markets.

This move aligns with India’s new EV policy, which aims to attract investments from global EV manufacturers and promote the adoption of advanced EV technology among Indian consumers. The policy emphasizes the importance of domestic value addition (DVA) and sets specific localization targets for manufacturers establishing operations in India.

To incentivize investment, the government has introduced measures such as customs duty exemptions and import quotas for EVs based on the level of investment made by manufacturers. These initiatives aim to position India as a preferred destination for EV manufacturing and contribute to the country’s Make in India initiative.

In anticipation of these developments, Tesla plans to dispatch a team of experts to explore suitable locations across India for the proposed manufacturing facility. Musk’s previous statement about visiting India in 2024 further underscores the company’s eagerness to enter the Indian market and collaborate with local stakeholders.

Tesla’s expansion into India represents a significant step forward in the global EV landscape and underscores the company’s commitment to sustainable transportation solutions. With India poised to become a key market for electric vehicles, Tesla’s entry is expected to drive innovation and accelerate the adoption of EVs in the country.

As the electric vehicle market continues to evolve, Tesla’s entry into India holds the potential to reshape the automotive industry and contribute to India’s transition towards a greener and more sustainable future.

Tesla’s entry into the Indian market not only signifies a pivotal moment for the country’s automotive industry but also presents an opportunity for Tesla to capitalize on India’s growing demand for electric vehicles. With the Indian government’s focus on promoting clean energy initiatives and reducing carbon emissions, Tesla’s electric vehicles align perfectly with India’s sustainable development goals.

Moreover, Tesla’s presence in India is expected to stimulate job creation and economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The establishment of a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant will not only provide employment opportunities for local residents but also foster the development of ancillary industries and supply chains.

In addition to manufacturing, Tesla’s entry into India is poised to catalyze advancements in EV infrastructure and technology. As Tesla vehicles become more accessible to Indian consumers, there will be a corresponding need for charging infrastructure and support services. This presents opportunities for collaboration with local businesses and government agencies to build a robust EV ecosystem.

Furthermore, Tesla’s entry into India could spur competition and innovation in the domestic automotive market, encouraging other manufacturers to invest in electric vehicle technology. This competition could lead to advancements in battery technology, vehicle performance, and affordability, ultimately benefiting consumers.

Overall, Tesla’s decision to establish a manufacturing presence in India reflects the country’s growing importance in the global automotive industry and underscores India’s potential as a key market for electric vehicles. As Tesla’s footprint expands across the country, its impact on India’s economy, environment, and technological landscape is expected to be profound.

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