I have vivid memory of my teenage son returning with his teammates from the USA after participating in a competition held at NASA, Florida. He arrived clutching his hand bag to his chest as the belt of the bag had snapped due to overstuffing. It was touching to see small gift items and knick-knacks for everyone in the family tumbling out of his bag, but what intrigued me was that all the souvenirs – stuffed toys, fridge magnets, mugs and other sundry stuff from NASA centre, Disney Land and Universal Studios had one thing in common – made in China label.
A decade and half later, the countries were different but the label on the souvenirs remained the same. This I discovered on a holiday trip to Europe a couple of years ago. I picked up small models of Eiffel tower from France; key chains of trade mark wind mills from Holland and replica of the famous cow-bells from Switzerland without realizing all these were sourced from China, none manufactured in the European nations. Here I can’t help recalling my Australia shopping experience. On my visit to my son in Australia, I bought small gift items for family and friends. While unpacking my stuff back home in India I realized, though not a shock this time, that the affordable stuff I grabbed happened to be made in China. However, I was pleasantly surprised to notice ‘Made in India’ tag on a set of three fragrant candles that I carried all the way from Sydney. An unforgettable emotional moment for me!
The fact is China has captured the market for hundreds of small knick-knacks, toys, gift items all across the world by supplying at a price and quality which is unbeatable. Today Chinese dominance is not just limited to low end goods, but having made huge strides in technology China has become a ‘manufacturing hub’, ‘factory’ to the world playing a crucial role in global supply chain. Indian market, too, is flooded with Chinese goods. Even our festive purchases for Diwali and other festivals have been hijacked by Chinese products. Not only low value consumer goods but mobile phones, television sets, computers and many other electronic and electrical gadgets besides critical inputs are being sourced from China.
But how can our business including trade with China be the same when there is tension at the border? There is a sense of outrage against China after twenty of our brave-hearts were brutally killed by Chinese in Galwan valley on June 15. Boycott China is viral today, but sadly, our actions belie our feelings. Despite popular anger against Chinese transgression, Indian consumers continue to make a beeline for Chinese mobile sets with expensive smart phone models getting sold within no time.
Our patriotism must be reflected in action. Mere chest-thumping, ‘boycott China’ slogans on the social media won’t help. All of this is empty rhetoric unless, we, the consumers use our ‘wallet power’ to demonstrate our love for the country. It is time to say ‘Bye-Bye’ to Chinese and ‘Buy-Buy’ Indian products.
(Published Times of India.indiatimes.com on August 27, 2020)