NEW DELHI: A fresh Indian graduate and his friends have designed a necklace to help women in Delhi feel “safer”.
Named after its intended purpose, Safer is a pendant that has an SOS button on the back to help alert friends and family when the wearer is in danger. When the button is pressed, the device will call and message chosen contacts of the wearer’s location.
Galvanised by the outcry of the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus, Paras Batra, a trained engineer based in Delhi, decided to help solve that problem through what he and his college buddies at that time knew best: Technology.
“I went to my friends and said: ‘We are in the third year of our college, we have no liabilities right now, the government has put in so much money into our education, we are practically paying no fee, so why don’t we give it back?'” said an enthusiastic Batra. “And the only thing that we know is tech, so what if this problem can be tackled.”
After leaving university in 2015, he and his friends followed through with their vision.
Safer runs on a rechargeable battery and consumes very little energy. It pairs with almost any smart phone and can also navigate to the nearest hospital or police station using the device’s supplementary app.
According to a report, the Delhi police received a distress call every nine minutes on average from a woman in 2016.
“Some parts of Delhi are unsafe even during the day. There is no point discussing women’s safety,” said Riya Rehlan, a college student.
While security of women and the scrutiny of sexual violence has increased in India, Muskaan Pradhan – who frequently travels by Delhi’s notoriously unsafe public transport – mirrors Rehlan’s scepticism.
“The police are not doing a very good job,” she said. “I’ve actually seen policemen harassing women.”
Accolades have been pouring in fast for the young entrepreneurs of Safer, even from the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
“We didn’t expect such a positive response,” he said. “So many users have come back to us and thanked us for making their lives easier. That is what we cherish the most.”
Batra admitted that at present the jewellery – which is price at around US$30 – may not be as accessible as they hoped. He said they plan to drive the production costs down, as well as prices, substantially as demand continues to grow.
“It’s all about the numbers,” he said. “We have already been able to bring the costs down substantially. It will come down further within the next year.”
The company has managed to grow at twice its expected rate in just over two years and manages to sell around 500 pieces of their “smart jewellery” weekly.