Power of festivals: By collective effort, the Elephant can tame the Dragon

How prudent buying choices during the ongoing festive season can make this happen and further boost the idea of Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

India spends lavishly during festivals. Data suggests that sectors across the spectrum see a rise in sales during this period. In certain sectors, sales during the months of September to November, account for 20-40 % of the annual sales. No doubt, the pandemic casted shadows over the market, however, a recent survey conducted by TRA Research, a Brand analytics company, has some figures to cheer about. The survey suggests that close to 65% of the consumers reflect a positive buying sentiment for Diwali-2020. Moreover, the festive stimulus rolled out by the central government for its employees is stated to increase spending, which in turn is expected to steer the economy.

Amidst all of these, there is something to worry. In 2018-19, Chinese export to India was a whooping US$70.32 billion as compared to Indian export of US$ 16.75 billion. India’s trade deficit with China thus stood at US$53.57 billion. India‟s imports from China in July have risen for the second straight month, although overall imports are still down by 24% from 2019. Owing to festivals, import figures for the months from August till date, ought to have increased further. One may argue that all of that may not be finished goods and can also be raw materials. Very well, let’s take the case of the smart phone market then. The share of Chinese brands in India’s smartphone market dropped to only 72% in the quarter ended June 30 as compared to a peak of 81% in the first three months of this year.

It thus becomes apposite to pose certain questions to buyers. Are we simply turning a blind eye to the scares of the Chinese virus, which are only cutting us deeper and deeper every passing day? Are we simply ignoring the fact that China, since our independence, has threatened our territorial integrity and sovereignty? Have we forgotten the supreme sacrifice of 20 of our army men at the Galwan valley? Are we ignorant of the fact that just two days back, the Chinese President Xi Jinping has given a clarion call to his troops to prepare for war? By buying Chinese goods, are we not filling China’s coffers? And finally, are we supporting China’s expansionist policy and dig our own graves?

Turning adversity into opportunity, Hon’ble Prime Minister’s call for an Atma Nirbhar Bharat is timely. The Government has already identified sectors where imports can be cut almost instantly. Plans are being laid down to increase domestic production and penalise unnecessary imports. In certain sectors, owing to several factors, instantly increasing domestic production shall be impossible. Therefore, until then, dependence on imported goods shall persist. However, in numerous sectors, goods made in India and imported goods are competing against each other. Huge advertisement backing is providing Chinese goods an advantage over its Indian counterparts. What weighs in favour of Indian goods is the pride of ‘Made in India’ a sentimental appeal to Indians. The ongoing festive season provides a perfect opportunity to further the idea of Atma Nirbharta (self-sustenance) and commit ourselves to the cause of our country.

That brings us to question of order of preference in buying goods. At the outset let us have some clarity, goods ‘Made in China’ are to be boycotted. The first preference ought to be given to goods which are manufactured in India by an Indian entity. The next in line shall be goods which are manufactured in India by a foreign entity. This has been deliberately placed up the order to promote the ‘Make in India’ campaign. However, goods manufactured in India by a Chinese entity are also to be boycotted. We cannot afford to share a piece of the pie with China and in the process, strengthen it. Next in line shall be goods which are manufactured abroad but are marketed/ sold in India by an Indian entity. Here too, if the goods are manufactured in China, they are to be boycotted. And as the last resort, goods manufactured abroad and sold by a foreign entity are to be preferred. Goods made in China and sold by a Chinese firm are the deadliest of all goods available. Avoid them!!

China is aware of the anti-China sentiments of Indians. It will thus prefer to work from behind the scenes. It has already acquired sizeable stakes in several Indian companies. Much alike the change in the FDI policy apprehending opportunistic Chinese takeover of Indian companies during the pandemic, the Government ought to think of ways to swiftly substitute Chinese investments in Indian companies without these companies bearing the brunt for such steps.

The pandemic has seen the unprecedented rise of the online shopping platforms. A recent survey conducted by Appsflyer suggests that, as compared to March-April, 2020, during May-June, 2020, there has been an 85% increase in the number of buying users on shopping apps in India. Further, there are reports to suggest that this year’s festive sales could see a 40% year-on-year jump. With platforms raining alluring offers, let not your temptation defeat the country‟s cause. Several online shopping platforms have mandated to mention the ‘Country of Origin’ of the products being sold by/through them. Although, there is some sort of hypocrisy in that, a bit of research before buying any product through online shopping platforms will only be in the country’s interest.

This festive season, our prudent choices of goods can actually make a difference.

Let’s make it!