The chorus of disgruntlement with our incumbent government(Why our anti-China narrative needs to shift from jingoism to pragmatism) has grown louder after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an all-party meeting that no Chinese troop transgressed the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). His statement elicited a barrage of criticism from all quarters.
India had lost 20 of her doughty soldiers(Why our anti-China narrative needs to shift from jingoism to pragmatism). The martyrs had shown profound valour to ward off their advancing Chinese counterparts. Why then the soldiers were killed if there was no occupation of Indian territory nor an attempt of incursion?
While this debate rages on and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has gone on a fire fighting mode, a parallel anti-China movement(Why our anti-China narrative needs to shift from jingoism to pragmatism) is gaining traction.
Social media is abuzz with posts of people or users spurning Chinese goods and overwhelmingly voting against China-made products(Why our anti-China narrative needs to shift from jingoism to pragmatism) in sundry surveys. But so much is the invasion of Chinese products into our factories and homes that it sounds unfeasible to disengage.
From steel to electronics and aluminium to urea, there is a preponderance of China-made goods everywhere. To substantiate, even bric-a-brac, trivial items like needles, candles and keyrings are imported from China.
Are we advocating zero imports from China? Can we gloat that it will paralyse the Dragon economy? Let’s pause. And, think minus prejudice. India’s share of overall exports from China(Why our anti-China narrative needs to shift from jingoism to pragmatism) is a measly three per cent.
How then can we think of destabilising China? And, spare a thought for our core manufacturing ecosystem, especially in steel and aluminium.
You will get to know their immense dependence on Chinese imports. A total ban on Chinese products is not the prescription that a good doctor will order. It threatens to snap our supply chain.
For starters, we have to build a massive manufacturing ecosystem. Step up the focus on import substitution. The Make in India chant has muted. ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ has to go beyond a frenzied hashtag campaign.
As Sonam Wangchuk, the crusader of ‘Boycott China’ movement points out, consistent imports from China has hollowed out our manufacturing base. This dependence needs to be supplanted with ‘self-reliance’.
India will again gain manufacturing prowess in the coming years if we take hard decisions to boycott Chinese products now.
Wangchuk said, “The movement to boycott China is like treating cancer, you will have some pain in the beginning but we will be free from the malady of Chinese dependency.”
One area where our government can intervene is denying China access to strategic markets like telecom, thus precluding the Chinese annexation into our living rooms. We need to give a strong-worded reply to China- both in rhetoric and practice.