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Boycott Chinese goods: Will Swadeshi Diwali campaign be a game changer?

Over the years, Chinese firms have gained a near-monopoly over many Diwali products such as small blinking lights, also called `fairy lights', decorative items and statues. The campaign began on social media with people calling for the boycott of Chinese goods this Diwali

A year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a clarion call to all Indians to boycott Chinese goods during Diwali celebrations and instead opt for a Swadeshi Diwali by buying Indian products. The idea was borrowed by the RSS and Sangh Parivar-inspired organisations and efforts were made to make the drive a success. Perhaps because of the patriotic fervour kicked off by Uri attack and subsequent surgical strike, the year-old call for Swadeshi Diwali seems to have caught the imagination of India 2016 and picked momentum this year.

Social media has been buzzing with calls not to buy Chinese goods this Diwali. Several politicians too have urged people to buy Indian goods only, reported The Times of India (TOI).

The anger against China stems from the fact that it continues to support Pakistan despite all of its wrongdoings and refuses to support India’s cause in an international platform, especially at the United Nations. The PLA intrusion into Indian Territory at Leh and Ladakh time and again, too, is a factor.

According to a report in Hindustan Times (HT), a campaign to boycott Chinese lights and promote earthen diyas during Durga Puja and upcoming Diwali was slowly taking shape in Bengal.

“A group of youths and individuals, who believe in the saffron ideology, have initiated the campaign which includes sale of earthen diyas from villages, exhibitions, posters and hoardings. The campaign has already been started on social networking sites,” the HT report stated.

Politicians like BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Assam’s minister for health, education and finance Himanta Biswa Sarma have jumped in the bandwagon calling for a boycott of Chinese goods.

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Photo courtesy: India Today

The concept to boycott Chinese goods has been there for quite some time, but it came to limelight only after Narendra Modi became its promoter. Vidya Bharti Sanstha, an RSS wing, which runs more than 7,000 schools in India, is one such organization that has been promoting the concept of Swadeshi Diwali for some years now. Similarly, Bhartiya Vidya Mandir Trust, which runs four schools in Ludhiana, has also taken up the cause.

“In daily shaakha (classes of RSS), it has been made clear that all sewaks have to promote earthen lamps (diyas) for the benefit of our potters. All volunteers have been assigned schools to take up the matter,” an RSS worker said in an Indian Express report.

Over the years, Chinese firms have gained a near-monopoly over many Diwali products such as small blinking lights, also called `fairy lights’, decorative items and statues. The campaign began on social media with people calling for the boycott of Chinese goods this Diwali. These posts argued that the boycott would have a two-fold advantage -that of crippling the Chinese economy and promotion of `swadeshi’ products.

Though this is good news for our potters and cottage industries, many shopkeepers are a gloomy lot as they have stocked up Chinese goods that now have fewer buyers. According to the TOI report, some shopkeepers believe that stopping sales of Chinese products would lead families of over 2-3 lakh people to lose their source of income.

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