We have left behind those oil lamps that used to light up our Deepawali nights. I still cherish the most vivid memory of lighting competition between halls of residences at IIT, Kharagpur in late 50s. It used be with oil lamps. Now we use just few earthen lamps only for inside near the little home temple. My wife, Yamuna goes for 21 of them.
As desired by Yamuna after seeing the lighting arrangement being made at neighbour’s house, I also went to my electrical shop. The owner is young man. I have been buying all my routine requirements from him. He also arranges for regular maintenance of domestic electrical systems. I asked him to send his electrician with some 10 lighting strings for external decoration as well as one for the temple inside too. As usual, I queried about the source. “Uncle, everything in market this year is Chinese including ‘Ganesh and Lakshmi’ statues that we buy to worship on this day.”
There was nothing to be surprised. Chinese have invaded the Indian market in big way. Earlier it used to be through smuggling, now globalisation and free trade had opened the floodgate for these small little things too. However, I asked about the quality.
” It is fine, Sir. Moreover, you shall not find the Indian ones anywhere.”
“Will you guarantee about the quality?”
” Sir, That I can’t, but then none has complained.”
Gaurav, the owner sent his electrician a day before Dhanteras. He fixed up the lighting and went. The night after Dhanteras, it rained. In evening, I found some of the strings have gone dead. Next day, it was Deepawali. I tried to contact the electrician on his cell phone. He assured to come for a check in the morning. On the day of Deepawali, I contacted Gaurav too. First time he was busy in worship of Goddess Lakshmi. The second time, he did respond but just assured to send his electrician if he came. I knew he was telling a lie. By that time, Yamuna informed that even the one inside on temple has gone off. She was very angry and morose as she thought it to be inauspicious. I kept on trying for the electrician. He came. He tried. He failed to correct the trouble and left blaming the Chinese profusely for the poor quality. Yamuna as usual was very angry on me, as I was not cautious enough to ensure the quality of the purchase. It was in real bad taste. As found out later, Gaurav had many customers complaining on the Deepawali day. He closed his shop and left for home.
Who is at fault? The Indian SSIs can’t compete on price with the Chinese. It is easier for the unscrupulous Indian traders to get the Chinese stuffs in bulk, and get it packed here in individual plastic bags. They hardly bother about the quality. As I understand they never demand it. May be the trade itself is through illegally managed route. The same is the case with the fireworks from China that are available in plenty in market. The traders charge high prices, because they fix up the prices based on opportunity to sell at that price. I call it opportunity price. Who can control it? We can’t leave everything to the government.
India must find a way to assist the small manufacturers to produce all that are being brought in from China for our consumers. As our market itself is huge enough so it becomes quite a good commercially viable business objective to produce these things cheap in our country itself.
I lost my money on the purchase, but more importantly I felt miserable on this auspicious day with this incident because of the poor quality of the Chinese who wish to rule the world. I am sure I shall not be buying anything Chinese hereafter if I could afford.