Beating China.

It is great feeling when what you think is ratified by someone well known and popular. They articulate it so well. Using the right words and emphasis. A tweet by Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) is pretty apt:

“Either the whole WORLD is FOOLISH or WE are SMARTER than the REST to believe that a global pandemic like #COVID that has emerged as a major threat to lives, economies & material progress across the globe could be turned into our advantage and catapult India to top of the world.”

A narrative is being built that – now is our time. In fact in the pre-covid world too, when Trump was bombarding China with trade sanctions, there too similar thoughts were floated. That this is it. China is in trouble and the world is moving away from it and this is our time.

I’m not a China supporter. But I don’t like being lied to. And the government thinks that people our idiots and they will believe any drivel. When the government tells me that when China is in trouble then that is the time that we will gain, that trade and industries in China will grow four legs and trek across the Himalayas to India, then I consider that the government is not doing its duty.

Trade and development are never a zero-sum game. If China versus India is 1-0 yesterday, it is not going to be 0-1 tomorrow. The game is always one better. So if China makes something and presents to the world, we should be able to do the same one better in terms of cost and quality. Are we at present capable of doing this?

Go to any indian market (not particularly malls), you’ll see shops stacked with all things Chinese. Utensils, devi/devtas (idols and pictures of Indian Gods), chappals (slippers, shoes), diwali patakas (fireworks), rang, gulal, pichkaari (Holi colours and water guns) et al. The shops are stacked with China made reasonably priced materials. And the quality and finish is not bad at all. Even in electronics, like Mobile Phones, Fridge, T.V., Laptops, the Chinese made stuff are pretty good and very affordable. If India wants to beat the Chinese, it’s here. Can we in India make similar stuff and compete with the Chinese in cost and quality?

How are we going to counter the chinese at this level? Is policy rejigs in India sufficient? What about capabilities? Whatever is happening now – Trump’s China trade sanctions and China borne COVID, does present opportunities for India. Can we capitalize on this advantage? There are many banks, institutions in India with huge money ready to invest. But where is the uptake?

History tells us the world has never been happy with China. Still they have ventured to Chinese shores and tried to trade with them by hook or by crook. In modern times the world has climbed on each others shoulders to curry favours from the Chinese. India should realise that whenever the world takes India’s name, it’s as a sidekick to China and not as a counter.

I’m pessimistic because our government is lying to us and think us to be fools. They think nationalism will solve issues. Our PM has given a new slogan – Be vocal for local. In another words, don’t buy Chinese goods. There are many Whatsapp groups too floating this idea. Last Holi I was bombarded with messages not to buy Chinese Holi products. What else is there. And why tell me? If the government has guts, stop importing it.

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