New Delhi: A call to boycott Chinese goods has started after the clash at Ladakh's Galwan Valley between Indian and Chinese troops, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed on Monday evening. The all-India traders' body -- the Confederation of All India Traders or CAIT -- has called for a boycott and appealed to celebrities including Amitabh Bachhan, Akshay Kumar, Mahender Singh Dhoni, and Sachin Tendulkar, to stop endorsing Chinese products under its "Bhartiya Saaman - Hamara Abhiman" campaign.
The traders' body -- which claims to represent 7 crore traders and 40,000 trade associations -- has released a list of items, which it said can be boycotted. As part of the campaign it would not just motivate traders to not sell Chinese goods, but also urge consumers to buy indigenous products, it said.
"At a time when China's army in the most clandestine manner has committed a ''barbaric attack'' on the Indian army at Ladakh border, the heart of every Indian is filled with deep anguish, resentment and abhorrence against the atrocities of the Chinese and their persistent attitude of antagonism towards India and to be a part of solidarity," read CAIT's open letter to celebrities, reported news agency ANI.
The government, too, is seen as driving the sentiment against Chinese products. Yesterday, government sources said the Department of Telecom is set to "firmly tell" the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd not to use Chinese equipment in its 4G upgradation in view of security issues.
Sources said the department has also decided to rework the tender in this regard. The government is also considering asking private operators to reduce their dependence on equipment made by Chinese firms.
Amid protests, Chinese handset maker Oppo has cancelled the livestream launch of its flagship 5G smartphone in the country.
But at Sadar Bazar – the country's biggest wholesale market located at the heart of Delhi -- traders question what will replace the goods that are being boycotted. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's high-powered Make in India campaign, high excise duties and red-tapism have stunted the growth of local manufacturing.
"We also want to say goodbye to Chinese products. We boycotted several products during Holi, but it is harder to do it on a larger scale," Rajender Sharma, the general secretary of the market's Traders' Association told NDTV.
"The government needs to reduce excise duties, encourage small scale manufacturing industries, reduce red tapism," he added.
For the last couple of years, most traders have stayed away from the colourful and cheap water guns made in China during holi.
Chinese firecrackers have also failed to make much headway during Diwali, due to the Supreme Court ban on crackers following environmental concerns. But the sale of gift items, fancy lights, electrical gadgets kitchenware and appliances, also saw a dip, which traders attributed to the questionable quality of Chinese goods.
CAIT's Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said the organisation has been holding periodic campaign for Chinese goods boycott, as a result of which imports from China have dropped from $76 billion in 2017-18 to $70 billion at present.
The traders' body has set a target of reducing Chinese imports by around Rs 1 lakh crore by December 2021.
The clash at Ladakh's Galwan Valley area took place on Monday evening as an Indian patrol party tried to remove a Chinese tent. The fight started after the Chinese soldiers targeted Colonel BL Santosh Babu, who was commanding the patrol party. Both sides were armed with batons and rods with nails. Several soldiers fell into the river during the clash.
(With inputs from agencies)
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