Friday, April 29, 2005

Made in China

How the times have changed. It was Hindi Chini bhai bhai at one time. Then we lapsed into a mistrust of China which has since become a latent mistrust. Somewhere along the way, we began to admire China for its economic prowess and manufacturing skills. We have moved from the neighbourhood smuggler for "phoren maal" (foreign stuff) usually imported from the Middle East or the Far East. China has brought "phoren maal" at our doorstep (though I am not entirely sure, how). A few years back, I saw a Ganesha idol "Made in China". The ultimate symbol of India, now imported from China. Its now Hindi Chini buy buy.

I suspect that some of the so called Chinese stuff is actually Indian, with a "Made in China" printed on it. "Made in China" has created 3 levels of phoren maal in India.

The Made in China brand is "aspirational" for those who want "phoren" stuff. And it is usually cheap, so they dont bother too much with the quality. At this level it is shades, 5o Rupee radios and the odd phone.

Made in China at the middle level is infra dig. Shopkeepers themselves say "Thats Made in China, won't be durable. You are better off buying a Made in India piece (actually!!)." They are usually right since, for pricier things, Indian makes score over Chinese makes. Here it is stuff like a good phone, kitchen equipment or a portable music player.

And at the top level, even if its all Made in China, you can be sure its brought from Italy or US (from the source) with a brand name (perhaps even a guarantee)! Items in this category are cameras, cordless phones etc.

At whichever level, Made in China is here to stay. True there is "Unique to India" stuff which are still best made in India, but otherwise we are way behind in manufacturing. Not for skill, not for productivity, not for learnability, but for the fact that our infrastructure simply does not support a good factory. Produce as you might, can you ship it out on time? Can you even reach it out to the port in time?

3 comments:

Kaps said...

I guess the "Made in China" is here to stay...right from plastic ware to cheap electronics and also the replicas of Indian gods. I read last year that during the Durga pooja, lot of idols are being imported from China and sold in Kolkata.

Sukuji said...

A general impression is created that whatever made in China is inferior in quality. The fact however is that Indian importers prefer to buy the cheapest of the cheapest item from China and are willing to compromise on the quality for the sake of price. An importer from the US or Europe also buy from the same Chinese supplier and receive better quality products.

Neelakantan said...

Sukuji, you are on the money on this one. To think that China is only inferior is a case of sour grapes.