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Calls for boycotting Chinese products amid standoff between India and China have failed to impress Ludhiana’s thriving bicycle industry, which says it will continue to import cheaper bicycle parts from the Communist country since it ensures them good profit.
“Import of Chinese bicycle parts is a necessity for us as they are much cheaper compared to what we manufacture in our factories. Their import is rather increasing every year irrespective of the relationship between both countries,” says Badish Jindal, president of Federation of Small Industries.
The bicycle industry in Ludhiana earlier imported only Chinese bicycle parts, but many players are now importing complete bicycles as well in hi-end segment, whose prices start from Rs 3,000 and go up in lakhs.
“Nearly 20 bicycle parts are imported from China, which include paddle, spokes, gear parts, steel valves, outer wire paddle, chain wheel etc., apart from hi-end bicycles which are not manufactured in India,” says Rajesh Bansal, joint secretary of Wholesale Cycle Dealers Association of Ludhiana. “As per rough estimates, the bicycle industry here imported bicycle and parts worth nearly Rs 600 crore from China in the last financial year. Three years back, this figure was not more than Rs 300 crore. Most of Ludhiana’s small industrialists have become mere traders. They stock imported goods and sell them. Every year, traders go to China to attend bicycle industry’s exhibition for which the government even provides 75% subsidy on air fare. I am against import of Chinese products and I don’t do any, but I cannot check everyone. It is business as usual for most of the industrialists irrespective of border tension,” Bansal says.
Charanjeet Singh Vishvkarma, president of United Cycles Parts Manufacturers’ Association, says, “After border tension, we have been appealing to industrialists not to purchase Chinese products, but we cannot force anyone. “
Bicycle Valley with Chinese firm
A Bicycle Valley is to come up in village Dhanansu of Ludhiana at a cost of Rs 100 crore where Hero Cycles has plans to start a unit in collaboration with a Chinese company to manufacture hi-end bicycles. Its foundation stone was laid at the fag end of SAD-BJP government by former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.