Many who were part of a gathering to burn Chinese goods at Karol Bagh market on Monday have businesses that sell or rely on made-in-China products — though all of them claim they hope to change that going forward.
The protest was held by traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), led by its secretary general Praveen Khandelwal. Around 10 protesting traders were briefly detained by police.
Khandelwal (59), who had fought the 2008 assembly polls on a BJP ticket from Chandni Chowk, has a hardware and fittings shop in Karol Bagh. He claims he has not sold Chinese goods for four years, and that the body will push to end Chinese products when it comes to FMCG items, consumer durables, builder hardware, kitchen accessories and subsequently technological goods. “Ultimately Chinese will have to go,” he said.
But for Rajesh Verma (44), the Delhi vice-president of CAIT, Chinese products are a part and parcel of what he does. Verma said he sells boxes for packaging garments in Gandhi Nagar, and raw material such as paper, duplex and lamination material also comes from China — but he is ready to bear the losses. “Business is down due to Covid so this is also an opportunity to start mills that have been closed and manufacture raw material in India only,” he said.
Ashish Grover (48), Delhi general secretary of the organisation, runs a wholesale medicine business at Bhagirath Place. He said he does not buy Chinese products, but pharmaceutical companies he deals with do so. He said the Chinese business environment is more conducive because they give land at cheap rates and technological help, while in India there are bureaucratic hurdles for people trying to enter a business. “The government needs to make the model more conducive for traders,” he said.
Mahender Gupta, convenor of CAIT’s hotel division, owns a hotel in Karol Bagh and also runs an auto parts business there. He is also a BJP karyakarta.
“In hotels, we keep furniture and electronic goods made in China. But we have now vowed that we would not buy any Chinese product. In terms of auto parts, for the last 10 years, I have only been dealing in Indian products,” he said.
Gupta said he is in talks with several budget hotels in Karol Bagh to stop taking bookings from Chinese nationals.
Satender Wadhwa, Delhi general secretary of CAIT, owns stores selling wristwatches and garments. On whether his suppliers have China links, he said: “We will initiate dialogue with these companies and our suppliers and discourage them in dealing with China while also trying to persuade them to set up their manufacturing units in India.”
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