Chandigarh’s Diwali dampener: GST-hit Indian lights, crackers again fade in glow of Chinese products

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh
Oct 12, 2017 01:43 PM IST

Chandigarh shopkeepers say since Chinese products are not affected by GST, their rates have remained unchanged, unlike those made in India.

The government’s efforts to popularise home-grown brands has failed to influence people’s choice as Chinese crackers and decorative lights continue to find more buyers, courtesy their cheaper rates in comparison to their Indian counterparts.

Cheap and colourful, Chinese decorative lights and lamps are available in various designs at the Sector-18 electronics market in Chandigarh.(Karun Sharma/HT)
Cheap and colourful, Chinese decorative lights and lamps are available in various designs at the Sector-18 electronics market in Chandigarh.(Karun Sharma/HT)

With just a week left for Diwali, shopkeepers in the city are busy displaying the ‘Made in China’ variants at their shops. They say people are not boycotting Chinese products, adding that since the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has not impacted these products, they remain cheaper and in demand. These products are easily available in the markets of Sectors 18, 19, 22, 26, 25, among others. On an average, a 10-metre strip of Chinese LED decorative light costs Rs 50, while the ones manufactured in India are priced around Rs 600.

Better design, colour

Wide variety of designs and colours is another attraction that makes Chinese products outscore the Indians ones. Shopkeepers are making a good business. After all, its a festive season! Shopkeepers say the made in India products have been badly hit by the GST, making competition easier for the Chinese products. If you plan to light up your balcony using a made in India light strip, they say, you will need to shell out up to Rs 1,000.

They are cheaper too

Shopkeepers at Sector 18 Electricity Market say the prices of Chinese products have largely remained unchanged. However, the price of lights and crackers made in India have increased by Rs 40-Rs 50. Subhash Kumar, who runs a shop in this market, says, “A 10-metre strip of Chinese lights cost Rs 50. The same for the ones manufactured in India is between Rs 500 and Rs 600, depending on the variety.”

Quantity matters, not quality

Even though stalls of crackers are yet to be set up in markets like those in sector 22 and 19, they are available in the wholesale cracker market in Sector 42. Traders at the wholesale markets say Chines crackers are in greater demand because people prefer quantity over quality while buying crackers for Diwali.

‘None care for handmade products’

Bheem, a shopkeeper who sells handmade lamp shades and decorative lights in Sector 22 market, says, “We make these products ourselves, be it lights or paper lampshades. But nobody cares to buy traditional and handmade items for Diwali since Chinese products offer them more varieties and they are also cheaper. They pose a threat to our business.”

Ajay jagga, a city-based activist, echoes Bheem’s concerns. He has submitted a representation to deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi and has sought a ban on the sale of Chinese products, including lights and crackers in Chandigarh. He says police should set up helpline numbers or provide information about illegal sale and storage of foreign made fireworks in the city.

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