New Delhi: Amid the two-month-long stand-off with China at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to be ‘vocal for local’, BJP MPs have begun advocating and working towards ‘swadeshi’ products and ‘self-reliance’ in their constituencies.
Several BJP MPs have launched a campaign to make Indian festivals free of Chinese goods, while some others have begun promoting the manufacture of swadeshi items ranging from clay cups or kulhads to room fresheners.
After Modi’s call to be ‘vocal for local’, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had also talked about adopting indigenous products. Since then, the RSS’ economic body Swadeshi Jagran Manch has also launched a signature campaign to adopt and use indigenous products and boycott Chinese goods.
Competing with China through cottage and small industries
Santosh Pandey, BJP MP from Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, said he had been promoting cottage and small-scale industries, in order to provide a swadeshi alternative to Chinese goods.
“Clay cups are a major item in my area. I am appealing to the people to use more and more kulhads so the poor can get additional employment, and a market is created for local products,” Pandey said.
The MP pointed out that the use of kulhads has declined in the last few years, but now, local potters are being asked how their products can be promoted in local markets, and how they can get proper remuneration for their hard work.
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“Residents in my area make many types of artworks from bamboo. Bastar art is very famous in the country and abroad for this,” Pandey said.
Satya Pal Singh, MP for Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, and former Union minister, said after PM Modi’s call for an ‘aatmanirbhar’ or self-reliant India, his team has constituted 6,000 self-help groups of women in his constituency.
“Many small products ranging from handloom items to mosquito repellent and room fresheners are being locally manufactured. Instead of importing small products from abroad, we are insisting on using these local products,” Singh told ThePrint.
Meanwhile, Nishikant Dubey, BJP MP from Godda, Jharkhand, said: “We are working on intensive cultivation of silk cocoons and their processing in my parliamentary constituency, so that silk production is not dependent on threads imported from China and Korea.”
Dubey said he recently spoke to Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda in this regard. “He also agreed that cocoons should be cultivated on a large scale as a forest produce, which will reduce our dependence on imported silk threads,” he said.
Shankar Lalwani, the MP for Indore, Madhya Pradesh, added: “We are preparing one lakh indigenous rakhis with the help of women associated with 22 NGOs, so that market presence of Chinese-made rakhis can be challenged.
“In order to sell these rakhis, exclusive sales counters will also be established at different places in Indore. Plans are also being made to sell them online.”
Lalwani further said that though indigenous manufacturers will need some time to provide alternatives for Chinese goods, the feeling about boycotting Chinese goods is getting stronger in the hearts and minds of customers.
SJM calls for all-party support
Welcoming the BJP MPs’ initiatives, SJM co-convenor Ashwini Mahajan told ThePrint: “We are going to form committees at the state level as well as district levels. They will involve people from all sections of society, who will study about indigenous goods, and suggest to the government what more can be done in this direction.”
Mahajan added: “We will also attach the local MPs with the committees formed at the district level. We will urge MPs from all the political parties to join these committees. We have absolutely no problem with including anyone. We will cooperate with MPs across all political parties and will also seek their opinion on swadeshi. We will praise and appreciate any of the MPs who do exemplary work in this regard, irrespective of their political affiliation.”
Congress doesn’t need lessons in swadeshi
However, Congress’s leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the party didn’t need lessons from the BJP or RSS or SJM.
“The spirit of swadeshi was kindled in India for the first time by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress,” he said.
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