While the Galwan clash has invoked calls to boycott Chinese goods at a time when the Centre is promoting the ‘Atamnirbhar Bharat’ programme, the sports goods manufacturing industry in Jalandhar, which is largely dependent on Chinese finished sports goods and raw material, said change can only come about on ground when the Indian government imposes ‘anti-dumping duty’ on finished sports goods from China and upgrade technology and infrastructure for this industry.
The government has recently slapped anti-dumping duty (see box) on certain steel items from China, Vietnam and South Korea to avoid dumping at lower prices and discourage unfair trade practices. India imports sportswear, table tennis balls, shuttlecocks, badminton and tennis racquets, gym equipment etc. from China.
Jalandhar’s sports industry — one of the largest in the country — is worth around Rs 1,700 crore, including Rs 400 crore export and Rs 1,300 crore domestic supply, out of which nearly Rs 300 crore worth finished goods and raw material comes from China.
While the Indian sports market is around worth Rs 8,000 crore, India imports sports goods worth around Rs 1,500 crore including Rs 1,000 crore from China itself.
“Moves like Atamnirbhar Bharat and ‘no to Chinese goods’ will not only give a fillip to the local Indian industry including sports but also stop the cheap imports from China in bulk. For that we need competitive technology, infrastructure and industry-friendly atmosphere like China in India. Raising slogans and burning Chinese goods during protests will not make India self-reliant,” said a trader dealing in table tennis goods, adding that even raw materials like several types of chemicals are also most easily available in the Chinese market.
“If government imposes high anti-dumping duty on finished sports goods from China, then traders dealing in sports goods will not purchase that heavy-duty finished product from China and will turn to Indian manufacturers,” said Ravinder Dheer, who is also the convener of the Khel Udhyog Sangh Sangharash Committee, Jalandhar, and a manufacturer of rubber sports, skates, bats and sportswear.
He added that imposing a duty on any imported item is in the hands of the government and if the government wants less import of anything, it can impose a heavy-duty on the same.
“Around 98 per cent gym items come from China because we cannot give them as good a finish as China due to lack of upgraded technology and machinery here,” said a trader of gym equipment in Basti Nau, a sports market hub of Jalandhar, dealing in various gym items.
India makes some of the best cricket bats and hockey sticks, which are exported to various countries. “This can happen for other sports goods too which we are importing from China. But getting Kashmiri willow to make bats is also a big task for the new manufacturers,” said bat makers.
“China is a huge supplier of sports goods around the world. If it stops supplying to India it barely make a difference, but if Indian sports markets become self-reliant it will boost the industry hugely,” said another spots goods manufacturer.
“Instead of spreading anti-China sentiment we need to give better quality sports goods to the end consumer, who will automatically go for Indian goods, in competitive price,” said another.
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