Guest article: Slow Down India

Harish Bijoor comments on highlights in the marketing world in 2011 and bets on a ‘Slow down India’ trend, that he would like to see emerge in 2012.

e4m by Harish Bijoor
Published: Jan 3, 2012 9:59 AM  | 7 min read
Guest article: Slow Down India

The year 2011 has wrapped up, wrapped up on a cold January morning and ready to be buried. It’s time to take stock of what went into it in marketing terms. What then were the trends that defined the calendar year 2011 in marketing and brand terms?
Here goes.

1. WATCH OUT! Activism is up: this is a trend that is going to define marketing and branding in the years to come. The Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement in India, and indeed across the Indian diaspora, has set a trend all in itself for the marketer to watch, and watch out for. Activism is in. At this point of time, activism is all about an anti-corruption movement aimed at the politician and bureaucrat class at large. Watch it spread to every terrain. Activism and consumer watch movements will now spread to corporate governance and there will be surveillance carried out on corporate corruption and corporate greed.

Watch it spread even wider in the coming years. Activism is a bug. A positive bug for sure. Watch activism spread in the terrain of wealth. Watch it become a movement that questions big wealth in the hands of a few versus no wealth in other hands at all. Activism in this space will question the possession of big cars versus small. Activism in this space will question every bit of flaunt. Activism

in this space will indulge in audits of rich personas - what they wear, what they eat, what they use as accessories and what they spend on a single meal even.

In the 2012, expect consumer activism movements to gain traction. The marketer better prepare for this with transparent mechanisms. You might as well expect an RTI kind of legislation in the space of the brands and businesses you run and manage. Ouch!
E-commerce is the silent market-maker: If in the year 2010, multi-level marketing firms such as Amway were the silent market makers who gained big volumes and big acceptance in Indian homes, in the year 2011, it was the e-commerce outfit on the prowl.

VC money flowed into the terrain like vodka and whisky on the New Year’s Eve, which we have just been through. Ideators and promoters of the e-commerce venture therefore, went berserk burning money on the track to consumer stardom. Big successes were noted in the terrain with outfits in the B2C commerce such as Flipkart, Home Shop 18, Yebhi, and their cousins in the C2C commerce such as eBay, trying every trick in the marketing book to reach out to distant markets -urban and rural alike.

Cash-on-delivery (COD) worked miracles for the category. The Indian, who largely distrusts credit card payments, found comfort- space in paying at the doorstep for orders placed on the Internet. It’s a different matter that as much as 16 per cent of all such orders are rejected at the door-step and the only guy who makes money on this entire transaction is the courier-agency, which makes money twice.

At the end of all this e-commerce evangelism at play, one big trend has emerged. India is today a level-playing field for all marketers. If you tie up with the right kind of e-commerce outfit, you will be able to reach distant markets, which you have ignored thus far. Distribution to rural markets is not such a big issue today for relatively higher value products such as microwave ovens, mobile phones and even cosmetics,just tie up with an e-commerce portal, sit back and enjoy.

This space saw the proliferation of group-buying sites as well, localized and globalised outfits even, like Snapdeal, Taggle, SoSasta and 94 others to be precise. Many even folded up as well. Quick exits, as the category has inherent inconsistencies, which are yet to be attended to.

Telecom confused - 2G to Where Ji?: If there is one consumer category that looked totally confused this year, it was telecom. Most of the biggies were still battling boardroom, parliamentary committee room and courtroom woes in the wake of the 2G spectrum allocation issues.

3G came in, but everything seemed tepid. Telecom-service-provider marketers continued their advertising binges and splurged on creatives that kept the interest alive. Handset makers found themselves in a tizzy with market-shares getting re-defined drastically this year. The biggies were no longer the biggies. The smaller ones were struggling to make their bottom lines look good, even as their top-lines boomed. The big issue at hand is sustainability. Telecom Darwinism is round the
corner guys. The big ones will win and the small ones will struggle to survive.

Mobile number portability came in, the DND register got activated, smart-phones were a rage, VAS gained traction, green-tech saw investments and rural mobility was looked at with little more keenness. And despite it all, the category remained tepid and trends in the category are a bit amorphous for the moment.

Brands nudge health: Brands continued to nudge the health bandwagon this year as well. Green tea became the biggest hit in political circles all over the country. Even government offices started
offering green tea to visitors. And if it was a special visitor, the 'babu' offered honey with it as well, drawn out from the upper drawer of his desk. Wow!

Big opportunities spotted by the product category of tea, the category of honey, the category of Oats and the services category of Yoga (for every avatar), meditation, gymnasiums and more. Wait for lots more of this in the years to come.

A de-branded India: India got de-branded badly this year. Despite robust numbers on the GDP growth rate (which itself got scaled down dramatically) and a large consumer market we remain, issues such as corruption catapulted the nation into an active mind set for the world audience. Corporate gurgles and noises of shifting investments to other parts of the world did its bit as well. Add to it, a one-step-forward and one-step-backward attitude of the government at large, as witnessed on the FDI issue, has India a bit on its back-foot.

In the face: Even as India as a country was a bit on the back-foot, Indians went places in the world scenario. 19 newly appointed CEOs of large-format global companies were Indians. Shahrukh Khan roped in Akon for 'Chamak Challo', Lady Gaga was in India for the F1 show, Paris Hilton launched her bags in India, Tom Cruise came cruising by for the Mission Impossible launch, Snoop Dog was spotted with Akshay Kumar and Sunny Leone was a porn-star Indians loved to watch on Bigg Boss. Bollywood went places. India went viral as well as ‘Kolaveri Di’ hit 19 Million plus Youtube downloads and 'Jalebi Bai' replaced Sheila and Munni of 2010 with a raunchier visual than even Vidya Balan of The Dirty Picture fame.

But what do I want to see as a big trend for 2012?

I would wager on the “slow-down India” movement. At this point of time, the working Indian is a bit too keyed up. There is just too much pressure in our living and working environment. Schools kids are pressurized to perform, college students are on a suicide spree, working adults are working their tails off to make ends meet.

The one big trend I would plan for would be a campaign to slow-down India. This trend will then have ‘slow-food’ outlets emerge in our metros, where you eat slowly and enjoy the value of every morsel. The ‘slow-down’ Indian movement could be one adopted by companies to incorporate in their brand themes as well. If Tata Tea’s campaign “Jaago India Jaago” was all about awake India today, Vodafone’s 2012 campaign could be a “Slow down India” campaign.

The slow-down movement is essential for India as we emerge as the capital of diabetes in the world, the capital of hypertension and a strong contender as a cholesterol capital in the world. And, as life-style diseases of every kind hit us and as corporate India experiences it all first hand, amid its own employees, this is an idea whose time has come!

Royalties welcome for this idea.

A Happy New Marketing year 2012 then! Slow down guys!
(Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.)

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War on wokeism: How can brands come out unscathed this Pride Month

Brands that want to be woke in their messaging, must be clear on the possible backlash and still stand their ground, say experts

By Tanzila Shaikh | Jun 7, 2023 9:07 AM   |   6 min read


It's June, the Pride Month, and brands are ready to paint themselves in rainbow colours and create advertisements centered around the LGBTQ+ community. While it is not uncommon to see brands talking about the rights of the community now, it was not the case always. Also, while it's true that a lot has changed in the country, for the good, when it comes to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, for many, a discussion about them is still a taboo. And brands acknowledging the rights of the community often have to face criticism and trolling on social media platforms; the most recent one being Starbucks, which had to face the wrath of netizens for its ‘It Starts With Your Name’ campaign.

So, is there a middle path for brands on this road? What could be the best way for companies to talk about the rights of the LGBTQ+ community without hurting the sentiments of their other customers?

The way out 

According to Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, wokeism is nothing but a progressive, liberal perspective on what constitutes a just society that embraces the diversity of race, religion, gender as well as sexual orientation. 

“I believe that true wokeism, as opposed to pretend wokeism, is not a passing fad, but an unstoppable force that despite stiff resistance from those unable or unwilling to accept change, will ultimately pave the way for the future of human civilization. Brands that are part of the leading wave of these changes will eventually succeed as they will be perceived as pioneers and thought leaders,” said Sinha, mentioning that he loved the Starbucks campaign and saluted their bravery.

Echoing the sentiment, N Chandramouli, CEO of TRA Research, believes that being woke is a state of being, one where the person is continuously conscious, aware and informed on societal prejudices. “A person or brand cannot be woke at times, and not during others. Backlashes, criticism for being woke happen in some cases, but it does not change the wokeness of the brand or person. Brands which include woke in their messaging, must be clear on the possible backlash, and still stand their ground,” he suggests.

Speaking on the readiness of the Indian audiences to accept these campaigns, Shruti Swaroop, diversity inclusion consultant, shares, “If we consider the readiness of the Indian audience to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community, it's important to recognize that social progress and acceptance of diverse identities is a gradual process, especially in a culturally diverse country like India. Achieving true inclusion may take considerable time and effort.”

Are brands on the right route?

Earlier last year, Dabur also came out with a campaign for its product Fem celebrating same sex love. The campaign was widely trolled for many reasons. Brands are trying to start a conversation around the topic but do they have what it takes to get the right messaging out? 

Nitin Pradhan, Creative Head, DDB Mudra, feels that spreading awareness around issues, whether related to gender, race or LGBTQ themes, needs more sensitivity and understanding than what we, as advertisers and marketers, exhibit. “In most cases, we miss the larger context in which campaigns operate. It’s not really about one campaign and its the response. It requires a deeper level of pre-existing trust and emotional connection between a brand and its core consumers for this kind of messaging to be accepted,” he explains.

“A big brand presumes that the connection exists but the relationship may be quite transactional. The virtual absence of true and unique brand personality and the growing dominance of performance marketing, suddenly followed by an ‘emotional’, PSA-like theme, makes people look at the whole piece with skepticism. No surprise then that it seems like tokenism. We need to ask if the brand has the rite of passage to say this. Does it go with the brand personality? Is there a brand personality? Is there a product or category connection? Why must every brand tick every social issue box in the calendar?”, he explained. 

Meanwhile, people hailing from the community feel that brands hijack the month and make the conversation around it only for marketing purposes and ignore it consistently throughout the year. 

Sinha notes that what people are able to see through is the difference between genuine commitment to a cause or an issue, as opposed to tokenism or lip service to it. “If brands simply jump onto the bandwagon for the fear of being left behind, then they will not only be doing the LGBTQIA community a huge disservice, but also to themselves,” he said.

However, presenting a different point of view here, Chandramouli adds, “I feel that highlighting issues faced by the LGBTQ community by those who are promoting their cause, only adds value and does not hijack the issue. The more people/brands that speak about it, the more awareness there will be.”

Speaking on the same, Nisha Sampath, Brand Consultant, and Founder, of Bright Angles Consulting, said, “The younger generation is smart to identify this and they won’t buy into it, so brands should work around resonating the conversation with the audience. Brands should see them as a different segment of the audience and that way they should connect with them.”She also said that brands should take initiatives more and do something for them instead of just talking about it. She said, “Brands should walk the talk.”

The future of gender inclusivity in marketing

The audiences are getting used to the conversation and opening their hearts for it by taking baby steps, however there is still a big chunk of people out there who may not agree.

We asked experts what is the future of woke marketing and gender inclusivity communication in the Indian scenario. 

According to Swaroop, “With continued advocacy, efforts and moving beyond performative gestures, woke marketing has the potential to significantly accelerate the process of achieving Inclusion in India.”

While on the other hand, Chandramouli said, “For us to uphold a society that champions inclusivity and shuns prejudices or oppression, it's imperative that a greater number of brands courageously engage in discourse on matters they hold dear, even if it exposes them to potential criticism.”

Sinha noted that we still have a long way to go. “I think we will begin to see more and more popular mainstream brands attempting to normalise the LGBTQIA community in their marketing campaigns as an effort to champion the cause of diversity and inclusivity.”

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Disney Star onboards 28 sponsors for ICC World Test Championship Final

15 sponsors come on board with Disney Star and 13 for Disney+ Hotstar

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 3:10 PM   |   3 min read

disney star

Disney Star, the official broadcaster for the ICC World Test Championship Final (WTC), has onboarded 15 sponsors and Disney+ Hotstar has roped in 13 sponsors across categories ahead of the much-awaited tournament that gets underway from June 7th – 11th, 2023.

Star Sports’ sponsors include Bajaj Allianz, LAYER'R SHOT, Pokerbaazi, MRF, Samco Securities, Jindal Panther Steel, Ultratech Cement, DBS Bank, Atomberg Technologies, Maruti Suzuki, Charged By Thums Up, Hero Motocorp, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Livguard Energy Technologies, Allied Blenders and Distilleries. In addition to the 15 sponsors, Star Sports has also onboarded 40 advertisers and over 45+ brands.

Baazi Games has come on board as the co-presenting sponsor and ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund is the co-power sponsor on Disney+ Hotstar. A legion of national and international brands like Bajaj Allianz, Scaler, Policy Bazaar, Paisa Bazaar, Club Mahindra, Coca Cola, HSBC, Maruti Suzuki, Uber, L’Oreal and Castrol have been signed as associate sponsors.

“The increasing curiosity surrounding the ICC World Test Championship Final between two cricket heavyweights is sure to generate excitement in the country. We have collaborated with advertisers from various domains, across Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar to help them achieve their desired business objectives through this marquee event. The response has been overwhelming so far, resulting in the sale of all key features well in advance. We are optimistic about delivering an exhilarating tournament experience to our valued advertisers,” said Ajit Varghese, Head of Network - Ad Sales at Disney Star.

"Excited to announce Atomberg’s broadcast sponsorship of the World Test Championship final. Cricket on television has been an integral part of our media mix over the last 2 years and played a big role in scaling up our reach and awareness metrics, ultimately helping the business grow from 25 cr/month to 100 cr/month. And contrary to popular belief, if you can incorporate cricket intelligently in the media mix, it is not prohibitively expensive," said Arindam Paul, Founding Member and Chief Business Officer - Atomberg Technologies.

’At ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund, we are dedicated to empowering investors with our comprehensive range of mutual fund products. Through Disney+ Hotstar, during the upcoming ICC World Test Championship, we recognize the immense opportunity to engage with our target audience via Connected TV and mobile. Our aim is to generate brand awareness and encourage people to invest into mutual funds. Our association with Disney+ Hotstar ensures a seamless fusion of cricket's exhilaration and the potential for financial growth,’’ said Abhijit Shah, Head of Marketing, Digital and Customer Experience, ICICI Prudential AMC.

The ICC World Test Championship Final will commence from June 7- 11th, 2023 and the tournament will be broadcasted live on Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.

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Maruti Suzuki appoints AdGlobal360 to run pan-India hyperlocal marketing

AGL has been handling dealer marketing for Maruti Suzuki in North, East and Central India

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 1:57 PM   |   2 min read


AdGlobal360 (AGL) has won the mandate for managing the PAN-India Hyperlocal Marketing of Maruti Suzuki India Limited.

Maruti Suzuki launched the hyperlocal marketing strategy in 2018 and since then AGL has been handling dealer marketing for North, East, and Central India while the other half was managed by another agency.

Deployed throughout Maruti Suzuki’s vast network of dealerships in multiple locations across the country, this hyperlocal marketing strategy has proved to be extremely effective in helping the OEM strengthen its digital presence, capturing the high purchase intent ‘near me’ searches, streamlining dealer lead management as well as customer journeys, and much more.

Sharing his opinion of this partnership, Shashank Srivastava, Sr. Executive Officer, Marketing & Sales, commented, “The contribution of hyperlocal marketing to our business is significant and digital leads from this program account for nearly 30% of our car sales. AdGlobal360’s are specialists in this and we are looking at a partnership that will collectively help us grow manifold. We look forward to their expertise in managing a program of this scale and delivering effectively on our expectations.”

Speaking on the win, Rakesh Yadav, CEO-AdGlobal360, said, “This is more than a win for us, since we were already managing half of Hyperlocal Marketing for MSIL. This is a validation of our expertise and the value we bring to our partners, MSIL and the Dealers. It is our promise that with our continuous investments in understanding Indian Consumers through our Sei-katsu-sha philosophy, we will keep getting better and deliver better outcomes.”

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King's Kachi Ghani Pure Mustard Oil highlights promise of purity in new TVC

The ad aims to reinforce the brand's position as the preferred choice for consumers who appreciate genuine taste and quality.

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 1:36 PM   |   2 min read


Adani Wilmar Limited (AWL) has unveiled a new TV commercial for its King's Kachi Ghani pure mustard oil. The objective of this TVC is to emphasize the exceptional pungency and purity of the product, highlighting its distinct flavour. By doing so, the company aims to reinforce the brand's position as the preferred choice for consumers who appreciate genuine taste and quality.

The captivating TV commercial showcases the story of a charismatic and respected individual, symbolizing a heroic figure, who is deeply moved by the product's pungency ("Jaanch") and purity. The video playfully captures the deep connection between food, family, and the immense satisfaction derived from using the finest mustard oil in traditional Indian cooking.

Sanjay Adesara, Head of Marketing, Adani Wilmar Ltd, commented on the latest TVC launch campaign, stating that “Kachi Ghani, also known as "Sarson ka Tel", is an indigenous oil to India, being extensively consumed in the northern and eastern regions of the country. Due to its inherent properties and colour, mustard oil can be easily mixed with other oils, a practice that is widespread throughout the nation. Unfortunately, this leads to the sale of adulterated products by local players at significantly discounted prices. Adani Wilmar, committed to fostering a healthy and prosperous nation, aims to counter these local adulterated brands by offering quality products at affordable prices through its King's range.

The King's Kachi Ghani Mustard Oil TV commercial celebrates the authentic flavors of India and reinforces the product's core attributes of pungency and purity, enhancing the taste and elevating the culinary experience of every Indian dish prepared. We understand the importance of preserving age-old flavours, and our product serves as an appealing choice to discourage consumers from opting for adulterated, unbranded oils, promoting the use of quality and genuine ingredients in every Indian household."

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Pitch CMO Summit is coming back for a power-packed Delhi edition

To be held on 14th June, 2023, from 10am onwards

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 1:45 PM   |   2 min read

Pitch CMO Summit

exchange4media Group is coming back with the Delhi edition of its flagship property - Pitch CMO Summit. The upcoming edition of the conference will be held on the 14th of June  2023 from 10 am onwards at The Leela Ambience, Gurugram. The conference is Co-Powered By Times Network while Zoom is the Co-Gold Partner, Kantar and Radio City are the Associate Partners. The Co-partner for the summit is Teads while Spotify is the Celebratory Partner. Lemma is the lounge Partner for the summit.

Pitch CMO Summit 2023 - Delhi Edition brings India's most reputed brands and their top management to interact and share insights on their game-changing success stories under one roof.

The theme of this edition of the conference is ‘Reimagining Purpose In A Tech-Enabled World’.

Brand purpose is the reason for a company's existence as it has the power to establish an emotional connection with its customers, leading to increased brand loyalty, advocacy, and profitability. While price, product, and customer experience are key attributes in consumer consideration, a well-defined purpose can be the critical differentiator while making the final purchase decision. With the rapid advancement of technology, digitization has become essential for businesses to stay competitive in today's digital age. It has become crucial for companies to seamlessly assimilate and blend in their brand purpose with evolving technology, particularly in their 360-degree marketing initiatives. At the Pitch CMO Summit 2023 – Delhi Edition, we look at how brands are ‘Reimagining Purpose In A Tech-enabled world’.

The line-up and agenda of the Pitch CMO Summit Mumbai are power-packed. Stay tuned as we reveal speaker details soon!

The conference will be followed by the award felicitation ceremony of The Pitch Marketing 30 under 30 list - an initiative from the exchange4media group to identify and shine a spotlight on the most promising young marketers and the crème de la crème among young game-changers under the age of 30.

For more details, please check out the microsite:

To attend the summit, register here (

For any queries regarding RSVP, get in touch with

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Matthew Hayden is the new brand ambassador of CEAT

The Australian cricket great will be seen in 'CEAT Timeout', a series centred on cricket conversations between Hayden and Gavaskar

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 12:47 PM   |   2 min read


Tyre manufacturer CEAT has announced former Australian cricketer and renowned commentator, Matthew Hayden, as its new brand ambassador. As part of this association, CEAT has launched an engaging four-part talk show series titled "CEAT Timeout," featuring Hayden as the host in conversation with Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar.  

The "CEAT Timeout" series showcases the insightful and engaging conversations between Hayden and Gavaskar, covering various aspects of cricket, including their personal experiences, opinions on the current state of the game, and predictions for the upcoming World Test Championship. 

Lakshmi Narayanan B, Chief Marketing Officer, CEAT Limited said, “We are excited about this partnership with Matthew Hayden, a true icon in the world of cricket. The “CEAT Timeout” series is an engaging talk show that is packed with expert analysis, predictions and interesting strategies of our cricketers for the upcoming World Test Championship. Matthew Hayden’s passion for the sport and his ability to connect with fans make him the perfect choice to host these series. We believe that this collaboration will not only strengthen our brand's association with cricket but also provide our audience with unique and entertaining content.” 

The talk show series serves as a precursor to the highly anticipated World Test Championship finals, contested by India and Australia, beginning June 7, 2023. The first two episodes of "CEAT Timeout with Matthew Hayden and Sunil Gavaskar " have been released and can be viewed at the following links on CEAT’s Youtube channel. 

The remaining two episodes are scheduled for release today, June 6, 2023 ensuring that cricket enthusiasts have plenty of engaging content to enjoy before the World Test Championship kicks off.


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Team India describes the feeling of donning the nation's jersey in new adidas campaign

The campaign by Fundamental, featuring India's top cricketers, has been released to mark the launch of Team India's new jersey

By exchange4media Staff | Jun 6, 2023 12:25 PM   |   3 min read

team india

For both, the players and the fans, the India jersey is imbued with meaning, stature and a tempestuous mixture of emotions. It's a labyrinth of overwhelming sentiments, that span from madness to respect and from love to rage. So complex is this gamut of feelings, they are almost impossible to describe. That’s the thread the agency pulled at. While it may be impossible to describe all that one feels for the India jersey, once you’ve donned it, it makes you feel just one thing – impossible is nothing. 

Sunil Gupta, Senior Director, Brand adidas India, said, “We are thrilled to have worked with Fundamental on this campaign. At adidas, we put our athletes and consumers at the heart of everything we do. Through this campaign, we aim to bring alive the emotions that both players and fans feel after wearing this jersey. Our goal is to democratise the jersey culture by giving every cricket fan a chance to “Own Your Stripes.” 

Pallavi Chakravarti, Founder & CCO, Fundamental, said, “This was a thrilling campaign to make. After all, few things are bigger in stature than introducing the new adidas India cricket kit to the country. There is not one Indian out there to which this campaign will not speak - so we just had to make sure we hit the right note.” 

Mounting the campaign was quite an undertaking with a unique set of limitations. The players were available for a very short time and in very controlled environments. To extract the right emotion from them and still leave time to get all the expansive static and digital pieces right for this 360 campaign proved to be a task that needed surgical precision from a production standpoint. When it came to shooting with fans, the team had to be very careful about where and when they shot and how much they exposed the jersey, as ensuring the jersey design didn’t leak was paramount. 

Sachin Kotre - the director and Lensflare Films - the production house, deployed multiple crews which fanned around the city shooting as much as possible, so that the team had enough material to play around with on the edit table. The sitar–inspired track tops off a film that captures the very essence of what the team jersey means to the players, to the fans and indeed the country. 

For the partnership announcer released a short while ago, produced by Airvision Films, Fundamental dipped into the well of the team’s incredible, unexpected and often unbelievable moments of success over the years. Almost all of which were considered unattainable but India went ahead and pulled them off anyway. Truly espousing the belief of – impossible is nothing.

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