The festival of Rakshabandhan is going to be celebrated on 3rd August this year. While everyone is preparing for the festival in their own way, there is an anti-Chinese sentiment that is gripping the market. In the last few years, China-made Rakhis and other products essential for the festival like Thaali, gifts etc. have captured a significant share in the market.
Gujarat: Shopkeepers in Ahmedabad claim that demand for Chinese made rakhis has fallen this #RakshaBandhan festival. A shopkeeper says, “All of us are hurt by China’s actions. Customers who come here are willing to pay a little bit more for Indian products instead of Chinese.” pic.twitter.com/9CDKUYpDta— ANI (@ANI) July 20, 2020
Amid the backdrop of the faceoff between China and India in Galwan, the anti-Chinese sentiment among buyers and sellers have started to show its effect as the demand of locally produced Rakhis etc. have increased. In a report, ANI mentioned that buyers are showing interest in local products. Quoting a shopkeeper in Ahmedabad, the news agency said that buyers are willing to pay a higher price for Indian products instead of Chinese.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan and “Vocal for Local”
PM Modi’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan in which he asked the citizens of India to become “Vocal for Local” products is playing an essential role in increasing local production of different products and services. Starting from Saawan, there will be a long festival season in India, and several festivals including Rakshabandhan, Navratri, Janmashtmi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Vijay Dashmi, Diwali and many others will be celebrated. In all these festivals, local artists, as well as The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), are working extensively to promote India-made products.
Swadeshi Rakhi initiative by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi
On 16th July, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi started an initiative to promote “Swadeshi Rakhi.” She said that Rakshabandhan is a festival of sisters and this initiative is for the sisters and by the sisters. “Today, China does a business of Rs. 400 crore on the festival of Raksha Bandhan. If we, the people of India, pledge to buy Rakhi made by our sisters, it will create numerous opportunities as well as support for these workers,” she added.
Over one lakh Rakhis made by self-help groups in Madhya Pradesh
Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Indore Shankar Lalwani has recently announced that he is arranging one lakh indigenous Rakhis with the help of NGOs for Rakshabandhan. He said, “After PM Modi’s appeal to make India self-reliant, we are constructing one lakh indigenous Rakhis with the help of women associated with 22 NGOs of the city so that the local market I can challenge the Chinese as well as the Chinese as well.” The amount collected by selling these Rakhis will be distributed among the NGOs that prepared the Rakhis.
Traditional Rakhis by Tribal artists in Jharkhand
Tribal artists at Kalamandir in Jamshedpur are using traditional items to make Rakhis and other products for Rakshabandhan. Amitabh Ghosh, Convener Kalamandir, said that the Rakhis are of high-quality. They are made using traditional methods and will be available at an affordable price so that they can become a well-worthy alternative for the Chinese Rakhis. He said, “People are calling it Swadeshi rakhi, Jharkhandi rakhi, but I call them traditional rakhis. But it remains to be seen whether the shopkeepers will sell these over the Chinese ones. If we are able to provide a good product at cheap rates, the market will not look towards Chinese made rachis.”
The artists of Kalamandir also prepared masks and used the traditional patterns and material to sell during Covid-19 pandemic. They are trying to use less plastic to ensure there is no environmental impact of their products. These Rakhis are being promoted on the social media platform and getting a good response. Till date, they have prepared more than 11,000 Rakhis.
Rajasthan’s bid for “Vocal for Local”
Various artists and NGOs in Rajasthan have started manufacturing ‘desi’ Rakhis and gifts for Rakshabandhan. An NGO Sparsh Sansthan from Banswara is among the top producers of Rakhis in Rajasthan this year. Swati Jain, the founder of the NGO, said, “On this Raksha Bandan day, all sisters will pledge to use India made goods and shall boycott China-made goods while tying rakhis on their brothers’ wrists.”
Shrigopesh Panchgayvashala and Research Centre is also helping in reducing the market share of China during the Rakshabandhan. Himani, who is among the team that is making Rakhis at the centre said, “Following the ‘Vocal for Local’ call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are making rakhis which can be sown in pots or gardens after their use.” They have placed a Tulsi seen in the Rakhi and it will be a much better alternative to the plastic-based Chinese Rakhis that pose a threat to the environment.
NGOs and local administrations in almost every state are encouraging local artists to make Rakhis and gift items for Rakshabandhan and other upcoming festivals.