Friday, November 5, 2010

On Diwali business, China beats India

New Delhi: With the huge availability and growing demand of festive items made in China, local artisans are facing stiff competition to sell their products during this Diwali season. From fancy lights, lampshades, Ganesha and Laxmi idols to crackers and other such sundry items, the market is surging with Chinese products and consumers seem to be making a beeline to buy these attractive and cheap knick-knacks.

Conventional potters, who make products using a spinning wheel, seem to be worst-hit. Manohar Lal, a trader in South Delhi's Munirka area says he has seen the demand for his earthen diyas dipping year after year forcing him to create fancy and designer diyas for this Diwali to attract buyers.

"There was a time when my family used to start making Diwali products two to three months before the festival. People now are more interested in fancy and cheap lights from China," says Lal. According to traders, the popularity of China-made fancy lights is because of their cheap prices and the wide variety available.

A Chinese string of 100 tiny bulbs can be bought in the range of Rs 50 to Rs 70. Lights in the shape of pineapples, pomegranates, rice and net stars among others are seen to be popular among buyers.

Readymade rangolis that can be displayed on the floor or the wall are also available at affordable prices. Even though they are popular, not everybody is happy with the 'Made in China' products.

"The fancy lights from China have thin wires and they come out of holders easily. There are complaints of total failure of the product in some cases as well. So, I do not stock Chinese products at all," says Aman Khanna, a shop owner in Karol Bagh.

Shopkeepers say crackers from China produce more smoke and are also more dangerous for children. While the buyers are having a ball both in terms of cost and variety, the affected artisans are trying to devise ways to increase the sale of traditional goods.

"My business of fancy lights has been hit badly but I do not compromise on quality. Chinese lights are 'Rakhi Sawants' who will attract buyers only for some time. Once people know their truth, they will get back to us," says Rajender Kumar, a small businessman in the capital.

Experts say there is nothing much that can be done at the moment to help the small businessmen and the local artisans. "Chinese products are competing with domestic items in other countries also. A lot of artisans are suffering due to the competition. But, once you open up your economy, it's open to all. Artisans have to produce better goods than Chinese ones. Nothing else can be done," says Professor S K Jain who teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Source: Agencies Images: AP/Reuters
On Diwali business, China beats India

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