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India-China faceoff spells boon for local artisans

The ongoing tension between India and China is not without good effects. It has opened up business opportunities for lakhs of local artisans and craftsmen—all in the unorganized sector—as Indians shun Chinese goods and embrace the ‘vocal for local’ mantra.

Turnover for the traders only during the festive season—beginning the festival of Rakshabandhan till December—is estimated at Rs 60,000 crore. Till recently, over two-thirds of this went into the Chinese kitty, the Confederation of All India Traders (Cait) said. However, the picture is different this year as Indian craft workers, primarily women and women self-help groups (SHGs), have been engaged to fill the huge gap.

Sample this. Typically, India sources about Rs 500 crore worth Ganesha idols every year from China only on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. This year, since Chinese imports for such items came to a near halt, the local idol makers have hugely benefitted.

“We have not sourced any item related to the festive season from China this year, as we are promoting our own artisans. This has proved to be beneficial for thousands of local craftsmen. Our endeavor is to primarily engage women and women’s SHGs for this,” Cait secretary general Praveen Khandelwal told www.indianarrative.com.

Besides, the festive season demand is showing signs of pick-up, notwithstanding the shocking 23.9 per cent contraction in the economy in the first quarter of the current financial year. According to Cait, there could be a jump of about 10 per cent in festive consumption owing to the pent-up demand. Pent-up demand refers to a situation when consumption after remaining subdued for a period of time shows a sudden pick up.

The artisans have been directed to keep their profit margins low to ensure competitiveness, Khandelwal added. “Though the overall demand is weak, Indians increase their purchases during the festive period and with competitive pricing, we are hoping to see a 10-15 per cent rise in consumption during these months,” he said.

Economists and analysts also said that the worst is over even as India is likely to clock a GDP contraction for the current financial year.

“We have had an economic contraction but things will pick up as we go along. The worst is behind us. There are signs of demand picking up,” said an analyst who is not authorized to speak to the media.

Meanwhile Assocham secretary general Deepak Sood has underlined the need for injecting urgent booster steps to revive demand. He also said that goods and services tax rates across all product category must be brought down to boost woo consumers during the festive season..