Sonam Wangchuk, the Ladakhi engineer, innovator and education reformist, has called for #BoycottMadeInChina #SoftwareInAWeekHardwareInAYear via Twitter and YouTube and urged all Indians including his millions of followers to use their wallet power to hit the Chinese economy. This comes in a response to increased Chinese hostility on the Indo-China border and increasing Chinese incursions on the Indian territory in Ladakh.
Wangchuk advocates cooperation of the general public for economic boycott of Chinese products and services to complement the bullet power of the Indian army. Soon after his videos surfaced, various trends went viral encouraging Indians to uninstall Chinese apps from their mobile phones. Apps like ‘Remove China Apps’ that helped identify and uninstall Chinese origin mobile applications were downloaded in millions. There is rising debate over Wangchuk’s call with a large section of Indians relating with the emotion while another section of usual suspects mocking and abusing Wangchuk for his appeal.
The nationalistic idea is inspiring and natural given how China has always used its economic might to push their diplomatic assertion on sovereign foreign territories. However, India foremost needs to strengthen its manufacturing sector, which has been long ignored for the past 12-15 years, if we want to become self reliant and lead some economic leverage over enemy states. An economic movement like such, how-so-ever well motivated, cannot achieve its desired goals unless supported by a local industry which can produce quality products at competitive prices. Government initiatives such as Make In India and Atma Nirbhar Bharat have aimed at this issue precisely. While Make In India could not pick up the pace it aspired for, Atma Nirbhar Bharat will have its own challenges in the COVID and post-COVID era.
One might uninstall a few apps like Zoom and ShareIt and probably purchase a Samsung to avoid buying China-made Redmi or Oppo. How long could this work? Are we in a state to minimize our imports drastically? In an open market like India, Chinese hegemony can only be countered with multitude of made-in-India alternatives. Ultimately, prices guide the market share for a lot many products. The government will do its job of bringing out appropriate reforms and schemes giving ignition and opportunities to the industry. Few states like Uttar Pradesh have already taken major steps. Long term benefits are certain. The pressing question, however, still remains – how can we help, meanwhile?
Public sentiment is more powerful than ever in today’s politics. We have seen government policy-making influenced and decisions swayed based on popular public opinion. We have also witnessed governments bowing down to unjust opposition demands channeled via riots and protests. The mood of the public that is dominantly visible in the larger social space through social media trends, public debates, and news platforms can encourage or discourage any government action. Nobody wants to dampen their voter base.
In the coming days, when we can move beyond Coronavirus and the next wave of anti-government rioting, the anti-development poverty-loving lobbies would in high probability start pushing their agenda against industrial development in India. Narratives around the environment, labor laws, and the futility of important government projects are already being built for dissuading the government from pursuing its objective. Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh took the lead and barred its population from contributing towards J&K civil infrastructural projects. Remember, government expenditure on infrastructure is one of the biggest allures for the industry.
Do not fall for any such trap which undermines the importance of manufacturing boost in India. Do not pay any heed to any anti-development agenda. After all, there are many who benefit simply because their votebank remains poor. Look out for and beware of propaganda of all those who are still rooting for riots, strikes and bandhs in the country. On an individual’s part, one can simply try to prioritize local over foreign wherever feasible and affordable.