Netizens in India seem to have a meltdown on Twitter after news surfaced that Bharti Airtel awarded Rs 300 crore telecom infrastructure expansion contract to Chinese company Huawei.
The hashtag #ChiniLoverAirtel began trending on the social media platform on March 12. Many netizens are angry that Airel decided to give the contract to the Chinese firm nearly a year after the Galwan Valley clash between the Indian and Chinese military that saw nearly 20 Indian soldiers losing their lives.
It must be noted that while many netizens calling for a boycott against Airtel today, the news of the deal between Airtel and Huawei broke on March 6. Seems like the news of the deal reached these netizens nearly a week late. Most of these tweets are quite similar and most seem cut, copied and pasted.
What is the Airtel-Huawei deal that got these netizens riled up?
On March 6, news broke that Airtel awarded Rs 300 crore telecom infrastructure expansion contract to the embattled Chinese gear major Huawei.
According to reports, Airtel has already issued a procurement order (PO) to Huawei. A senior executive officer told news outlets that the value of the deal in concern is a big part of Airtel’s complete Capex budget when it comes to the non-radio network.
One must note that Huawei is running Airtel’s National Long Distance (NLD) network for a very long time. This NLD optical transport network is vital as it carries international traffic and inter-circle traffic.
With Airtel and other Indian telecommunication companies focusing more on the ‘Make in India’ initiative or opting for European vendors, this deal comes as a big respite for Huawei.
Indian telecommunication companies are ignoring Chinese firms following the Indian government’s concerns over cybersecurity. Out of many Chinese firms, Huawei has been hit the worse. An international ban on Huawei by the United States triggered bans against the Chinese firm in many countries. Following the border clashes, relationships have been strained between India and China. This rocky relationship between neighbouring countries is affecting Chinese companies.
However, in a recent report, India is likely to block mobile carriers from using Huawei’s telecom equipment under procurement rules that will activate in June. The Centre has instructed that after June 15, Indian carriers can only buy certain types of equipment from government-approved and trusted sources.
Last year, when the border dispute took place, Indians called for a boycott of several Chinese companies and products. One company that faced a boycott is Chinese mobile company Vivo.
Vivo is the title sponsor for the much-beloved Indian Premier League, a tournament followed closely by Indians. Following the border standoff, Vivo made a self-exit last year after fans were not happy. Fast forward to March 2021, Vivo is back as the IPL title sponsor for this year’s season. Vivo had won the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years – 2018 to 2022 – for a reported sum of Rs 2,190 crore. The sponsorship deal is worth Rs 440 crore per year and follow the terms and conditions of the old contract.
Although some fans were happy that Vivo was suspended last year, many asked why the BCCI did not terminate the contract completely. “If the ‘Exit Clause’ favours VIVO more, why should we terminate Rs 440 crore per year contract? We will only terminate if ‘Exit Clause’ favours us,” said a BCCI official last year.