A wild one for the vile!

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Sravanthi Challapalli

Chennai, July 1

SUCHARITA works late nights at a software firm on Chennai's Old Mahabalipuram Road but now feels safer getting back home to distant Porur, thanks to Wild to Wild, which nestles in her bag. A compact aerosol canister, which contains a mix of red chilli pepper extracts, she can aim it at her assailant if she 's accosted on lonely roads or buses. Chennai-based Butterfly Electricals and Electronics Pvt Ltd has launched three versions of this self-defence spray, commonly known as pepper spray. (Pepper spray is actually a well-known brand name in the West, and banned in quite a few States in the US.) When sprayed, it stuns the attacker by producing an immediate and severe burning sensation in the eyes, on the skin and inside the nose. It takes about 2-3 hours for the effects to wear off, says an instructional leaflet.

While no licence is required for its possession, uncalled-for use is a punishable offence under the law, says the company.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr V. Senthil Kumar, Marketing Manager, Butterfly Electricals, said half-a-second's burst is enough to destabilise the attacker. Awareness of this product has been on the rise in India and This is the first time such a product is being introduced in Tamil Nadu, he said, adding that other brands were available in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.

The company plans to market this like any other FMCG product, said the company's director, Mr V.M.G. Viswanathan.

Advertising in print will start in a week and in two months in the electronic media. According to Mr Senthil Kumar, in the one month since its launch, over 5,000 cans have been sold, he said.

The company imports oleoresin capsaicin, the main ingredient, from the US, but will soon procure it indigenously, Mr Senthil Kumar said.

Known for its pressure cookers and stoves, Butterfly diversified into manufacturing security systems for office and domestic use a little over a year ago. The spray is an extension into personal security, he said. Most of the customers have so far been women, though it is also ideal for shopkeepers, petrol pump owners, businesspeople, trekkers and those who party late, he added.

A few women Business Line spoke to said they would feel safer with the spray but also added they would use it only if it wasn't lethal or too expensive.

Wild to Wild has a `throw' of four feet and is a 55-ml basic low-emission model that costs Rs 299, while Rapid (55 ml) and Rapid Plus (80 ml) are high-emission products with child locks which cost Rs 499 and Rs 599. If the attacker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which increases the resistance to pain, the nozzle has to be kept pressed till he is incapacitated. The container empties out in 6-9 seconds when pressed continuously.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 2, 2005)
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