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City residents are thronging the 30-year-old China Market in Bhadra Fort area to purchase cheap and affordable Chinese products, despite a social media campaign and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) call to boycott made in China items.
“China ka maal chal gaya toh chand tak nahin toh raat tak (If a Chinese product lasts, it’s forever or just till sunset),” says Shoaib Khan, one of the shopkeepersselling mobile phobe covers at China Market. Chinese products are in great demand because of their glitzy appearance and affordable rates, he says.
Deepak Mehta, an electronic storekeeper who has been doing business for the last six years, says, “Compared to India, China’s market reacts quickly and comes up with innovations. To match their pace in the competitive market, India will have to act quick.”
Nirmitsinh Vaghela, 25, a student of Mass Communication who thinks the call for boycott is too late. “All the stock from China has been imported and bought by retailers long ago. So now the loss would not be that of the China. If we stop buying that stock, it will be affect only our small retailers,” Vaghela says.
Shailja Tripathi, a homemaker from Navrangpura area of Ahmedabad, who has been shopping for Diwali from the China market for the last seven years, says, “Middle-class would certainly prefer this market because it is economical. If there will be a ban, this will affect them hard. The government has to keep this in mind before imposing any ban on Chinese products.”
But the current patriotic fervour has caught on N M Shaikh, a constable on duty at the Bhadra market, who firmly believes that people should stop promoting Chinese products. “India can make them much better than China. What we need to do now is promote sales of Indian products. Personally, I would never want to buy a ‘Made in China’ product, especially because of being in police force. I would buy only Indian products.”
Shopkeepers in China market are well aware that their wares have an immediate ‘expiry date’. Jay Mulchandani, who sells gift articles and electronic articls in this market, says, “People use more electrical items for illumination during Diwali. After Diwali is over, it doesn’t matter much if the product lasts or not. And even if it lasts one use, it is not a big loss for them. Chinese products are not good in quality but their affordable prices drive people into buying them.”
Pratik Raval, an electronics store owner, says that the “banning” should have happened five years ago because now it will not make a difference.
“I have been running a shop here for the last 25 years. From a hairpin to machines, everything is made in China. Because people prefer Chinese items. It will take years to cover the gap,” says Raval.
Maheshbhai, owner of a mobile accessories store, prefers Chinese products because he feels that they are more durable. Most popular are the Chinese lanterns, because they are more convenient than the traditional oil lamps. And those who still want to light a lamp, have the Chinese floating candles to choose from.