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Fancy 'Made in China' festive items pushing out local products

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

With huge availability and growing demand of festive items "Made in China", local artisans are facing stiff competition to sell their products during this Diwali season.

From fancy lights, lampshades, Ganesha and Laxmi idols to crackers and other such sundry items, the market is surging with Chinese products and consumers seem to be making a beeline to buy these attractive and cheap items.

Conventional potters, who make products using a spinning wheel seem to be worst-hit.

Manohar Lal, a trader in South Delhi's Munirka area says he has seen demand for his earthen diyas dipping year after year forcing him to create fancy and designer diyas for this Diwali to attract buyers.

"There was a time when my family used to start making Diwali products two to three months before festival. People now are more interested in fancy and cheap lights from China," says Lal.

According to traders, the popularity of China made fancy lights is their cheap prices and the wide variety available.

A Chinese string of 100 tiny bulbs can be bought in the range of Rs 50 to Rs 70. Lights in the shape of pineapples, pomegranates, rice and net stars among others are seen to be popular among buyers.

Sanjay Kumar, a wholesale dealer of fancy lights and gift items agrees that cheap Chinese materials sell like hot cakes and have caught the imagination of middle class shoppers.

"People use Chinese lights because they are very cheap and even the poor can afford to buy them and also they consume very little electricity," says Kumar.

Riding on the same features of variety and affordability, made in China crackers are also finding more and more takers this Diwali season.

"Chinese crackers are more colourful, produce more sound and have a lot of variety. And since they are cheap also, they score over their Indian counterparts and sell more," says Rahul Singh, a wholesale dealer of crackers.

China made light-weight idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses made of polystone are finding more buyers than those made out of Indian clay.

"Hindu deities like Saraswati, Laxmi and Ganesh have been fitted in decorative items and fancy lights and that is why they catch the attention of the buyer instantly," says Sanjay Kumar.

Readymade Rangolis that can be displayed on the floor or the wall are also available at affordable prices.

Even though they are popular, not everybody is happy with the 'Made in China' products.

"The fancy lights from China have thin wires and they come out of holders easily. There are complaints of total failure of the product as well in some cases as well. So, I do not stock Chinese products at all," says Aman Khanna, a shop owner in Karol Bagh.

Shopkeepers say crackers from China produce more smoke and are also more dangerous for children.

While the buyers are having a ball both in terms of cost and variety, the affected artisans are trying to devise ways to increase the sale of  traditional goods.

"My business of fancy lights has been hit badly but I do not compromise on quality. Chinese lights are 'Rakhi Sawants' who will attract buyers only for some time. Once people know their truth, they will get back to us," says Rajender Kumar, a small businessman in the capital.

Experts say there is nothing much that can be done at the moment to help the small businessmen and the local artisans.

"Chinese products are competing with domestic items in other countries also. A lot of artisans are suffering due to the competition. But, once you open up your economy, it's open to all. Artisans have to produce better goods than Chinese ones. Nothing else can be done," says Prof S K Jain who teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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First Published: Wed, November 03 2010. 12:33 IST