Opinion Op Ed 30 Jul 2018 A wake-up call: What ...
The writer is an advocate practising in the Supreme Court. The views expressed here are personal.

A wake-up call: What China is up to in India

Published Jul 30, 2018, 1:56 am IST
Updated Jul 30, 2018, 1:56 am IST
China must be laughing all the way and enjoying the wrong course adopted by some Indians, whose love for foreigners & ‘phoren goods’ is now legendary.
India and China flags (Photo: PTI/File)
 India and China flags (Photo: PTI/File)

The parliamentary standing committee on commerce deserves the nation’s thanks for its exhaustive report on the “Impact of Chinese goods on Indian industry” that was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. I don’t have access to full report yet, but from the reports that have appeared in the media it is clear that the committee is spot on. It has diagnosed the shabby and stepmotherly treatment being given by Indians themselves to their own country — to their own men, material, manufacturing and management, and preferring a foreign country which is determined to trample on anyone and everyone, and in which India is undoubtedly a key target, being a potential long-time rival notwithstanding the fact that the Chinese economy is over four times bigger than India’s at this point.

China must be laughing all the way and enjoying the wrong course adopted by some Indians, whose love for foreigners and “phoren goods” is now legendary. Some Indians don’t seem to understand the term “national interest”. And I use the words “national interest” quite deliberately — this has nothing to do with any ideology or party line. Indians need to clearly understand that the whole idea of using pompous words like globalisation, liberalisation, privatisation, non-tariff regimes, ease-of-doing-business, free-trade-area, etc, are simply ways for stronger economies to bulldoze weaker ones — to penetrate their markets, capture their consumers, create a vassal state to feed them with cheap raw materials, bribe the selected few who matter, fool the majority and ultimately do exactly the opposite of what they profess to the world when it comes to protecting and raising barriers around their own economy from outsiders. The world, especially the West, is slowly realising it is being beaten by their own gameplan by China, in which India’s financial and economic head is now also under the Chinese guillotine.

 

India must first look after its own national economic interests — with special reference to its foreign trade imports at the moment. “Perform or perish” is a good mantra, but it needs a level playing field. It does not work when two countries, or two economies, are playing by different rules. People are refusing to learn lessons even from their own history. Consider what the standing committee report points out: “The (imported) Chinese products are certified and registered quite easily and faster by India’s Bureau of Indian Standards, while Indian products exported to China suffer delays and high fees for getting certified and registered (by China)”. What an irony! Suddenly the famously-inefficient Indian officials become efficient and clear the Chinese goods, while China’s hitherto efficient administration becomes inefficient when it comes to stopping or delaying Indian goods from entering the Chinese market! Will the external affairs ministry take up this matter with its Chinese counterparts and ensure Indian businesses do not get shortchanged?

When will India wake up to counter China’s perennial — to quote the words of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his November 7, 1950 letter to Jawaharlal Nehru — “perfidy” and “malevolence”? When will Indians take note of the Narendra Modi government’s public procurement order, issued in June 2017, as part of “Make in India”, to promote Indian manufacturing? The standing committee explicitly reports: “Even a year after the order, the preference for Chinese products by government agencies, public sector undertakings and state governments has not waned.” Are these organisations under the influence of some Chinese black magic or sorcery? Or is there something more than what meets the eye?

Consider the Indian Parliament’s anguish and agony: “The committee deprecates this situation. It finds it unfortunate that in the name of ease of doing business, we are more than willing to give market access to Chinese goods, which is destroying our manufacturing, while China is smartly protecting its industry from Indian competition.”

Will India wake up now? “Chinese bulk drugs, bicycles, toys, steel, solar panels, textiles, firecrackers... are pushing Indian manufacturers of these goods to the brink,” the report says. Or this: “The dumping of Chinese solar panels (alone) has led to a loss of nearly 200,000 jobs in India as half of its domestic industry capacity remains idle.” Is this the globalisation and liberalisation that we Indians have been looking for? To harm the country of 1.26 billion heads? At a time when crores of rupees are reportedly spent on lavish parties in the world of entertainment and elsewhere, we see the simultaneous loss of over two lakh jobs leading around 10 lakh people to adversity (if we take an average of five persons a family) in real life. To paraphrase Swami Vivekananda, when will India wake up from her “deep slumber”?

Today, virtually every major economy of the West, including Donald Trump’s America, are being proactive in taking trade, defence and technology-theft measures against opportunistic and unethical trade practices of the Chinese as they are spending money like nobody’s business. They are even trying to muffle all unfavourable reporting in the Indian press by offering hard cash to a few influential citizens. Their advertisements are now creeping into India’s English-language media, describing what a beautiful land and people they are, even though less than 5,000 Indians would know anything about their language, and even fewer about their history, culture and international practices. The Chinese are now hyperactive in eastern and northeastern India, with some of their nationals reportedly also involved in drug trafficking, as several had got caught in the eastern India a few days back. Are they trying to take revenge for the Opium War of 1839-1842 on India in the 21st century? Pakistan has already been successful in Punjab, from where the recruitment of soldiers has drastically decreased due to the rampant use of drugs among youth in the catchment areas of the Indian Army.

Today, every Indian should try to get hold of and study the parliamentary standing committee’s report in order to appreciate and understand what is likely to be in store for India if we fail to take care of our national interest. This is not about any ideology, the bottom line lies in the country’s economics. Lack of enough jobs is only part of the story: the demand-supply gap in India is an old issue. However, if you can’t even keep the existing number of jobs and lose two lakh jobs at a time of growth-without-jobs, we are all in for some serious trouble.

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