India and China both got independence back and forth. India got freedom on 15, August 1947 whereas China got it on 1, October 1949 through the famous Chinese revolution of 1949. Economically, both countries were running parallel to each other for almost the next 30 years until 1980. After that China emerged as a global manufacturing hub in the 1990s and was able to mitigate poverty by enabling 85% of its population to earn a minimum of $1.9 a day. Even now China is the leading global hub in manufacturing on a variety of high quality, cost- effective products. The Chinese manufacturing industry has almost achieved a monopoly in various fields like cargo ships, agriculture machines, solar panels, high-speed rail systems, and chemicals used to make medicines across the world. So the question is, how China has achieved this? Why is China a global superpower and we are still a developing country albeit both of us got independence in the span of just two year? The reason is right after their independence their focus was on their people. How they can invigorate their unskilled human capital to support the state. So in order to achieve it, China opened ample vocational institutions to provide practical and skill-based training and therefore this is one of the reasons which made China incredibly utilize its human resource for the state service.
India’s dependence on China
India shares a massive trading partnership with China as the bilateral trade between India and China stood at $92.68 billion in the year 2019 compared to $95.7 billion in 2018. out of all India’s imports, 15% is imported from China worth $75 billion whereas out of all exports only 5% which is of cost $18 billion is exported to China. Clearly, India’s import of Chinese products is more than the export of Indian products to China during the year 2018 the trade deficit between India and China was around $56.8 billion. India mostly exports goods which are cost- effective, energy-saving, and labour-saving, e.g. cotton, rice, diamonds, jewellery, yarn, and low-end engineering products like petrochemicals. On the contrary, China’s export to India vehemently relies on manufactured goods like parts of the automobiles, solar panels, and raw materials for producing medicines. Hence, the picture in front of us is clear that it is immensely tough for India to boycott the Chinese products as they are well established and have dug deep roots in our markets.
Following instances are enough to show the dependency of India on Chinese products:
- Approximately 30% of the automobile components used in India come from China & any kind of gap will hit the automobile industry in India and so is with the toy market in India which is also comprehensively preponderated by China.
- India has the third-largest pharmaceutical industry in the world, however 90% of raw materials to produce medicine in India come from China. Recently during the COVID-19 lockdown, India was supplying hydroxychloroquine medicine across the world for manufacturing this drug more than 80% of raw material comes from China and we have seen the manufacturers in India were severely affected as China had increased the cost of raw material from Rs 7000 per Kg to Rs 20000 per kg.
- Not only raw materials but around 80% of medical equipment used in India are manufactured in China and similarly, around 50% of the cycle manufactured in India their manufacturing components also come from China.
- The middle-class families with an average income ponderously depend on cheap Chinese goods be it the electronic industry or mobile industry China is firmly rooted in our markets. Chinese mobile giants like Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo have 66% of hold in the smartphone market in India. Similarly, Huawei routers are massively used in India.
- Furthermore, vital start-ups in India like Flipkart, Paytm, Zomato, Ola, Big Basket, Byju, Delhivery, Dream 11, Hike, MakeMyTrip, Oyo, Paytm Mall, PolicyBazaar, Quikr, Rivigo, Snapdeal, Swiggy have extensive Chinese investment where Chinese companies hold stakes and earn massive profit out of it.
Let’s traverse the possibilities of truncating reliance on Chinese goods
It is evident that we cannot simply forbid Chinese products as we are massively dependent on many essential commodities. Nonetheless, In such a situation, we should not give up and find opportunities to move forward and we must take it as a challenge to set our path for a Self- Reliant India or in other words Atma Nirbhar Bharat. We need to bring out the untapped potential in all of us then we would be able to know what all we can do. Recently in Jashpur village of Chhattisgarh, an entrepreneur with the help of local tribal women’s self-help group(SHG) has made a hand sanitizer by using yellow-coloured Mahua flowers. It is a hand sanitizer liquid with alcohol distilled with these Mahua flowers as its key ingredients. Hand sanitizers are in huge demand because of coronavirus and these groups of women took it as an opportunity to commence their journey of Atma Nirbharta. Another great example of such self-reliance was shown by the textile industry of India. When everything was closed, some people were still working, one of them is textile industry workers, these workers stitched more than 4 lacs of personal protective equipment(PPE) kit and face masks. If they can do and set the example of self-reliance, then why
can’t we. Likewise, there are many more examples of such audacity which set the path for a self-reliant India.
Similarly, there are a few steps that may be considered to curtail dependence on Chinese products:
- It is a wake-up call for the chemical industry in India that these drug manufacturers must explore other outlets for importing key ingredients for medicines, e.g. South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and western countries could be the best alternatives to China.
- Many companies are relocating from China hence it is a golden opportunity for India to attract foreign and domestic investors to invest in India and set up manufacturing in India. India is already going to have the biggest manufacturing unit in the world of Samsung company in Noida.
- The government must identify other non-essential commodities like firecrackers and must halt their import to India.
Boycott China or banning Chinese products in India is easy to say but practically it is pretty difficult to implement. If India will curb the import from China then we will be left with either expensive alternatives from any other country or we will have substandard subtle Indian alternatives and we also can’t stop Chinese funding because it will increase unemployment.
China because of its effective manufacturing capacity is able to dominate not only Indian but the world market hence prohibiting Chinese products will immensely affect the middle-class population in India and it is not at all feasible because our economy is under stress and staggering.
India still needs to strive incessantly towards self-sufficiency by investing more in research and development & other government organizations like DRDO, BHEL, etc. and have to build capacity behind the government campaigns like “Make in India’, “Skill India”, “Digital India”,” Start-up India” etc.
Hence, to become a self-reliant country we first have to make ourselves capable of manufacturing goods indigenously to procure the local demands, and then we may take a call to embargo Chinese products in Indian markets.
Nonetheless, revolutions start with small steps and time has come for India to plan, prepare, and commence a considered mass movement towards Atma Nirbharta or Self Reliance.
By – Shaashwata Audichya