Among the marketing initiatives that accompany every Independence Day in India, Xiaomi’s tie up with non-profit Teach for India could be one of the smartest.

The Chinese brand continues to lead the smartphone market in India with a 29.4% market share in Q2 according to figures from IDC, although shipments plunged by almost half year on year – in line with the market generally as the country was under lockdown.

But the future is uncertain given the ongoing tensions between India and China, which have led to the Indian government banning many Chinese apps. The removal of WeChat and TikTok grabbed the headlines but Xiaomi’s Mi Browser Pro and Mi Community were also victims and these are seen as integral to the company’s ecosystem strategy for sales.

Xiaomi India managing director Manu Jain has argued that in many respects it is an Indian brand, since, over the six years it’s been in the country, it’s set up R&D and manufacturing facilities, unlike some US and India brands whose products are made in China.

“There’s no other smartphone company in the country that sources 65% of components locally,” he told CNBC recently.

Accordingly, Xiaomi has been promoting its ‘Made in India’ campaign as a counter to the calls to ‘Boycott China’ – and the partnership with Teach for India ties in with that, says Mint.

This initiative will see Xiaomi donate 2,500 new smartphones, worth ₹2 crore, to children from communities that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. “We partnered with TFI to identify vulnerable communities who do not have access to mobile phones so that their learning is not interrupted,” explained Xiaomi India COO Muralikrishnan.

“This is just the beginning of our commitment to the country,” he told the Times of India.

It’s the sort of grassroots approach that should help it weather the current storm that threatens to reshape the tech landscape in India. The latest on that is that TikTok owner Bytedance is reported to be seeking to strike a deal with Reliance Jio that would allow the video app to continue to operate in the country.

Sourced from Times of India, Mint, IDC, CNBC, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff