Social media has witnessed active campaigns seeking boycott of Chinese-made products this Diwali in India. The boycotts urge Indians to shun Chinese-made products and buy Indian made products instead. However, this unfeasible prospect of a boycott of Chinese goods has started hurting Indian retailers and wholesalers. In the light of recent tension between India and Pakistan, China has aligned itself openly with Pakistan drawing the ire of the common Indians. A large section has taken to social media and also spreading the call for boycott by word of mouth.
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Wholesalers in India’s largest wholesale market Sadar Bazaar have already claimed that they are seeing a drop of at least 20 per cent in Chinese made products and the Confederation of All India Traders recently predicted that the traders expect they will suffer at least 30 per cent loss due to the boycott of Chinese-made products. Also, boycotting Chinese-made products on Diwali is also not a solution as after that, and for every non-festive purchase, all products are in some way Chinese made.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed for greater business integration with China at the BRICS Summit even though the ‘corner Pakistan’ plan didn’t take off at the summit. It makes sense to push trade with China when you consider that early in 2016 India-China trade deficit was reported well above $44 billion. This is a grave concern for the Indian economy and to achieve a sustained balance of trade, both the countries had even signed a five-year cooperation agreement to achieve this balance.
India and China have shared a love-hate relationship since the mid 20th century. However, India’s boycott won’t even put a dent on the Chinese economy. It is, however, a self-blow. The need and promise of economic prosperity keeps the India-China and relation amicable, stable and somewhat peaceful.
Boycott of products at a time when long-term plans have not yet fully yielded results causes negative impact at home. Without suitable Indian alternatives, boycotting Chinese products hurts the earning of the Indian trader who has invested his money in them and now is unable to sell them off to earn the money back. If these boycotts are to take place, they need to be taken at the root. However, almost every product used in our daily life has some prominent element that is Chinese. This demand just proves to be unfeasible, impulsive and not well thought out.
India’s bilateral trade with the US – a country India has built close ties with – stood at $23 billion in 2015. However, bilateral trade between two hostile powers US and China stood at over $367 billion the same year. This shows that economic engagement needs to be discussed outside the absolute political and diplomatic space.