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Sonam Wangchuk is right. Time for India to hurt Chinese wallet and go Swadeshi

'Boycott China' is a recurring theme in India. But to make it a success, we will have to list all those things around us that are made in China.

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Engineer Sonam Wangchuk has hit the nail on the head by saying that if China has to be dealt with, then India needs to attack its economy. China understands the language of money very well. Wangchuk also said that while the Chinese attempts of incursion in Ladakh can be handled by the Army, the Chinese invasion in India can be dealt only with the cooperation of the general public.

Wangchuk says the Army will respond with bullets and common citizens will respond with their wallets. He also asked the people of India to push for Swadeshi items. The engineer-turned-innovator was the inspiration behind Aamir Khan’s character Rancho in the film 3 Idiots. He has been constantly tweeting about giving rejoinders to China and some celebrities like Milind Soman have also pledged to follow his advice. 

Also read: Lockdown flattened the wrong curve — GDP instead of Covid: Rajiv Bajaj tells Rahul Gandhi

‘Boycott China’ — a recurring theme 

The underlying sentiment is the one that keeps popping up in India owing to the attitude of the Chinese administration. During the 2017 Doklam standoff, too, an antagonistic atmosphere towards China had been created. Ramdev had spoken of boycotting Chinese goods. However, it is not easy to get rid of an addiction. India is now addicted to Chinese goods. From needles to clothes, from mobile phones to refrigerators – China has made a place for itself in every household. The addiction of using cheap Chinese goods is strengthening the dragon so much that it can glare at us unflinchingly. But it’s not just India, there is hardly any country in the world where ‘Made in China’ does not have a stranglehold. 

Besides China’s energy, its farsightedness and the hard work of its people, the role of China’s administrative system has to be acknowledged as well. In China, the thought process is that if people’s stomachs are full and their pockets have money, any musings of revolution will be nonexistent. There is no democracy there, so rules and regulations can be formulated and implemented without factoring in public opinion. There have been no major protests in China since the students’ movement at Tiananmen Square, which was crushed on 4 June 1989. Or it could be that the world did not care as China’s power and influence skyrocketed with its economic prosperity.

China has adopted the ruse of manufacturing goods at such low prices that industries in other countries are unable to compete. Keeping a tab on what is in demand in the market and delivering it in large numbers quickly and cheaply has become China’s forte.  

Whether it’s Diwali lights or Ganesha idol, your celebrations are unimaginable without Chinese products. Were festivals less joyous with brass water guns and earthen lamps? Were the air coolers and fans manufactured in India giving us less relief from the heat?

The biggest reason behind China has been able to establish its dominance in the daily-use goods market is that the Chinese government fully supports its industries. Be it labour laws or basic facilities like roads, electricity, water – not only did it spur industrial growth but many Indian companies also set base in China to produce goods. Be it Usha fans or Dr Reddy’s medicines — the list is long. 

Also read: A belligerent China can be just the catalyst India-Australia ties need

Hurdles at home

In India, governments changed but development was never on the agenda. When the talk of development started, there was some emphasis on ‘Make in India’, but that too received a blow owing to India’s five-year-plan mindset.

Owners of Indian companies who landed in Chinese cities such as Shanghai say that quality, relationships with local administrations and the abilities of the local employees have been key factors in making them successful in China.

The big Indian companies in China range from various sectors — from pharma, IT, energy, cement to packaging. Can we not build an infrastructure in India that stops Tata, Mahindra, Dr Reddy’s, Reliance and their likes from foraying into China?

India created special economic zones, but the rates of electricity and water and the rules and regulations of the local administrations did not allow them to flourish as much as they should have. Hurdles in land acquisition, environmental clearance, red tapism and the lack of quality infrastructure and connectivity, coupled with our socialist thinking, have prevented labour law reforms in India. 

Governments were never able to take tough decisions because they were against the interests of the workers and labour reforms have been mired in court proceedings. Promises such as single-window clearance have never been implemented on the ground. Take a look at India’s position in the Ease of Doing Business rankings – it has improved but India is still among the lower-rung nations.

India wants to attract international companies, which are shifting base from China in recent times. However, Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee doubts that it is a profitable deal – his argument is that China has such deep pockets that it will reduce the cost of production and it will be difficult to compete against that. 

But, with the growing sentiment of hostility against China around the world, it’s time now to take advantage and attract companies to the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The iron should be struck when it is hot – we should at least attempt to. 

Also read: Huawei continues 5G push in India with Covid-focused tech, despite anti-China sentiment

Going back to Swadeshi way of life

It will be difficult to ban companies or imports at the national level because the world operates under the ambit of global trade treaties. If China has to be defeated, then we will have to give up our addiction of cheap Chinese products. We will have to target China’s wallet. Starting from our soaps and toothpastes, we will have to get down to listing all those things around us that are made in China — and then make efforts to live our lives without them. We can replace them with organic, desi products and make ‘going local’ a part of our life principle.

Is it possible to leave the laptop on which you work or the mobile phone which you use? Has the time come to slowly adopt the Swadeshi way of life and stop depending on one country so that we can deal with the threat posed by China?

India’s trade deficit with China stood at $51.68 billion between January-November 2019. Bridging this trade gap alone is a matter of concern. There should be opposition to Chinese goods, which give China the strength to occupy the land of any country and spread neo-colonialism. India has already taught a lesson to the British rule by pinching its pockets. So why not adopt the same method today and revive the economy that has been battered by the coronavirus?

Sonam Wangchuk has sown the seeds of this movement in our minds, but it will be up to every Indian to implement this idea in their daily lives so that self-reliance and livelihoods can be safeguarded. The lives of labourers who have gone back to their villages have to be brought on track. They need a helping hand in earning their bread and butter and this cannot be done without strengthening the economy. The time has come to implement Quit India part two and go for ‘Made in India’. Covid-19 has given the country a second chance at becoming self-reliant. Are we ready?

Views are personal.

This article has been translated from Hindi. Read the original here.

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  1. The Indians are traitors and anti boycott will will prompt them to smuggle. Sad but true . They will sell their country for peanuts

  2. In the whole article or even the talk of Mr. Wangchuck I haven’t been able to find a real pathway to counter China. Do u even understand that we would be burying ourselves in time and cost let alone opportunity cost in trying to give up on easy products and search for desi alternatives. Moreover any business decision is not taken on sentiments. Why don’t u try not posting your videos on YouTube and patronise a desi video sharing website. Be an example. Please ask Ms Ila patnaik to speak on economic possibility of this task for the citizens imposed by the social media brigade of the country.

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