Blocking China economically, some say, could be India’s ‘Kalidasa moment’. China has entered too deep into India’s business and life. Even cricket, which we, as a country, are so proud of, is primarily sponsored by China- and its products - today.
Let us admit that China is cleverer than us. They started their economic reforms at least a decade before India and today has gained an unassailable position both in trade and in political clout. They adopted all the market ‘tricks’ of capitalism to boost their economy, in spite of being a communist country. They are building the new ‘silk routes’ through Tibet, Afghanistan and the Middle East to reach the European market. They have created roads and laid the railway lines. They have ‘captured’ trade- wise, almost entire Africa, Australia and the Latin America. The sea routes are also under their control. They lord over the South China Sea, in spite of the US and Indian naval patrolling. They have made friends with Sri Lanka and the Maldives to rule over the rest of the Indian Ocean.
Let us not underestimate China. A few bonfires of Chinese goods will not drive out China nor make India less dependent on Chinese products. From dolls to drugs China is everywhere. Solar cells, organic chemicals, transmission equipment, personal computers, electric motors and generators, plastic articles, telephone sets, electronic IC circuits, fertilisers, machinery and mechanical appliances – all come from China. Indians export to China electric transformers, iron ores, copper ores, salt, sulphur, cement, polymers, adhesives, cyclic hydrocarbons, vegetable fats and oils, cotton, fish, and petroleum oils. Official figures show that in 2019-20, India sent goods worth 15.5 billion dollars to China covering 3284 categories of products while China shipped goods worth 62.4 billion dollars covering 6809 product categories.
No amount of patriotism can wish away such a big trade partner in one day. The 1962 war has shown that ‘Hindi-Chini bhai bhai’ is not the right slogan. Being ‘atmanirbhar’ will be the right step forward, not the dialogues on a ‘swing’. To be self-reliant will take time. The first flush of Chinese goods in the 1960s was of bad quality and the consumers rightly rejected it. But China has learnt ‘quality control’ the hard way and that is the reason why the country has gained the confidence of becoming the ‘factory’ or the manufacturing hub of almost products of the world. It is no easy task to manufacture goods of Apple, Sony, Volvo and Mercedes Benz. Now that Japan, the US, Sweden, France, and Germany want to leave China as their manufacturing hub, it is not because China has dropped in their quality of product but because the countries think China has let them down on COVID-19.
India’s ‘taking it easy’ in business is not the right approach towards self-reliance. ‘Atmanirvarta’ in making one’s own goods will come only with rigorous attention to quality. The aggression shown by the Chinese in the borders has become part of their nature today. That aggression was applied to manufacturing quality products too. And that’s why they could become world leaders in manufacturing. Let us take one example. Officially, after the Galwan fight, Indian defence sources said three Indian soldiers had died and several more were injured. The fight was during the night. The next day the sources announced 20 deaths. The 17 injured soldiers simply froze to death. While sources said one could hear the Chinese activities across the border with helicopters, apparently flying their injured for treatment. We are tightening up our vigil across the border in Ladakh and other places now. The treaty is being amended so that the soldiers could carry firearms during patrolling. They fought the Galwan battle with clubs and sticks – like cavemen – even though the two countries are nuclear powers. Our ‘casual approach’ to life has to change if it wants to be atmanirbhar in business and life.