After the India-China face-off in Ladakh, many Indians have called for a boycott of Chinese goods and several Indian leaders have suggested ways to block investment and increase tariffs for the northern neighbour. The demand to ban Chinese products and phone applications started after the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the campaign swiftly gathered momentum across the country when news emerged of the violence in the Galwan Valley, where soldiers fought in hand-to-hand combat, with stones and clubs wrapped in barbed wire reportedly used as weapons by the Chinese. This deadly border clash left 20 Indian soldiers died and 76 got injured. The number of casualties on the Chinese side is yet to be confirmed.
At Kolkata’s Terreti Bazaar — a wholesale market of electrical items and lighting, which also has food stalls —almost everything on the shelves, like electronics and lights, is made in China. But traders and businessmen of this market now do not want to sell Chinese products.
However, even if they don’t want to, they have to clear the stocks to earn their livelihood and not incur a huge loss. Businessmen from many districts come here, but the key trade is of the Chinese lights that are available at this market at cheap prices. Just around Durga Puja and Diwali, it becomes difficult to even enter the market as it gets extremely crowded.
Chandeliers and many other kinds of lights for decorating houses are sold here at cheap rates. So, buyers usually prefer Chinese lights, but after the border violence they have started asking for Indian ones. According to a trader, "The lights that are imported from China are cheaper than the ones manufactured in India. Due to this price difference, people choose to buy Chinese lights."
The traders of this market will have to face huge losses if sales of Chinese products stop immediately. Just before lockdown was the last time goods were imported from China. After that, the market was closed for the past 2 months. The traders are worried as the campaign to boycott Chinese products is picking up momentum. "We don’t want to sell Chinese products but need to clear the stock that we have already purchased or else we will face a huge loss," said one of them.
Traders are also keeping India-made lights and products at their shops. One of them said, "If lights like these are manufactured in India, why will we depend of Chinese lights then? We want that lights like these get made here in India so that we can sell them to our customers."