Motorcycle consumers of India are the subjects of this story (not US consumers of the "Indian" motorcycle brand). According to the "The Times of India", and in a story that has received wide coverage in several other media outlets , "The makers of America's cult machine Harley Davidson have urged India to relax its stringent emission norm regulations for motorcycles to ensure a smooth passage for the hulking 500cc+ bikes through the direct import route. In a presentation made through a video-conference between senior Indian and US government officials Harley Davidson argued that large bikes (with an engine size of over 500cc) could not comply with the stringent emission norms that India has for two-wheelers".
Apparently metropolitan air quality in India is pretty terrible; so the idea of granting emissions standard exemption is not trivial. (It would of course be the city dweller that could afford a luxury bike.)
Import duties and emissions standards that exclude Harley's can be viewed as protecting India-based manufacturers. On the other hand, we might think of India's uniform emission standards as driving motorcycle design beyond "Easy Rider", using eco=efficiency as a source of market appeal. Both forces are in play and perhaps equilibrium will be negotiated as a result. India, after all, is one of the largest growth markets in the world. This could be the start of taking two-wheeled transportation to the next level of efficiency.
Image via StrangeVehicles Apparently, many surplus WWII Harleys were once converted to such uses in India. Hence, the brand could have a polar image there: one as a noisy old-fashioned machine and the other from its legendary panache in US high-end markets.