Pune’s bargain bazaar decides to go China-free: Tulshibaug traders unveil local produce plan
Three hundred shops and 300 registered hawkers make up this city shopping centre for bargain deals on every type of knick-knack, imported and otherwise; with cosmetics, toiletries, household and decorative items the fast moversUpdated: Jun 27, 2020, 16:50 IST
Tulshibaug market, one of the city’s oldest bargain bazaars, announced a “China-free” plan on Friday, a plan to not sell any made-in-China item.
Three hundred shops and 300 registered hawkers make up this city shopping centre for bargain deals on every type of knick-knack, imported and otherwise; with cosmetics, toiletries, household and decorative items the fast movers.
Tulshibaug exited lockdown last week, and against the backdrop of the China aggravation along the LAC in Ladakh, which resulted in the 20 Indian soldiers losing their lives, traders have decided to boycott all Chinese-made items.
“When the incident happened, and our soldiers were brutally killed, since that day there has been a lot of anger amongst all the shop owners and traders in Tulshibaug. So we decided to appeal to all shop owners to boycott Chinese goods - buying and selling - in the market. Thirty per cent to 35 per cent of ‘Made in China’ goods come into the Tulshibaug market every year,” said Nitin Pandit, secretary, Tulshibaug market shop owners association.
Pandit claims that the process of becoming a “China- free Tulshibaug” has begun, within some traders destroying their current made-in-China inventory.
The process to completely de-link from China is expected to take at least six months.
“Tulshibaug is known for its prices and varieties. There is demand for Chinese products. Due to lockdown, almost every trader is now facing a financial crisis as there was no business for three months. Despite this, traders who have stopped buying Chinese products are working on options for local production of goods which were coming in from China. For this, traders have approached manufacturers in Ulhasnagar and Gujarat.” Pandit added.
Pandit says the Tulshibaug market as a whole suffered a loss of at least Rs 40 crore during the 90+ days of lockdown.
“Some Chinese inventory already exists and some goods have already been dispatched from China, so it is not possible to immediately stop. We have appealed to traders that if possible, destroy the goods or return it to the distributors. As a last option sale will be allowed of current stock. All the traders have agreed, but it will not happen overnight. In the next six to eight months, Tulshibaug will be a China-free market,” Pandit said, adding, “On the association level we will help our traders in all possible ways to be self-dependent.”
Pandit estimates that a ballpark figure for the price differential between manufacturing in India and manufacturing in China will be between 35 per cent and 40 per cent.
That is a cost some traders are willing to bear.
Fifty-five-year-old Babu Navale, a shop owner at Tulshibaug, destroyed all his China goods.
Navale said: “There is lot of anger against China. Being a proud Indian I decided to stop selling and buying any kind of Chinese goods. I had several Chinese products in my shop like plastic bottles, utensils, laundry bags, mosquito-repellent rackets; around Rs 25,000 worth of goods. I threw it all in the garbage. I am ready to suffer a loss in business, but will never buy and sell Chinese products.”
Annually the total value of goods imported from China into the Tulshibaug market is between Rs 25 crore and Rs 30 crore, according to the Tulshibaug market shop owners association.