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‘I Won’t Boycott Chinese Products And This Doesn’t Make Me Any Less Nationalist’

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By Apurva Mayank:

This Diwali I will not boycott Chinese products and this does not make me any less nationalist. I want my country’s economy to grow. I want India to walk towards the path of growth and development. Having said that, I do not see the boycott of Chinese products in any way to be a rational approach that will benefit our nation. The social media is flooded with images and posts asking Indian citizens to boycott Chinese products. A point which should be remembered is that the boycott was initiated when China opposed the United Nations (UN) ban on JeM Chief Masood Azhar.

Calling a boycott of Chinese products is neither a good nor a bad decision, it is just stupid.

Why We Should Not Boycott Chinese Products:

  1. It’s too late to boycott. Money is already with the Chinese manufacturers and if these products are not sold in the market just due to a boycott, it will be a tremendous loss for the traders and will eventually be a loss for the Indian economy.

  2. Chinese products are cheap when compared to Indian products. A boycott of Chinese goods is not going to make Indian products cheap and competitive. It will remove competition instead and Indian businesses will have a monopoly. It could even lead to bad products, goods and services. Public Sectors Undertakings of the Indian government before liberalisation is a classic example of it.

  3. As they are cheap, they are easy to purchase. Remember, people in India may not be able to buy expensive jute bags. Chinese poly-bags might be a much better alternative. The middle class of Indian society will not have problems with the boycott. However, if there is a lack of availability of Chinese products, poor people will have to sacrifice the most.

  4. There will not be any government support to the boycott for two reasons. Firstly, it will be against the protocols of the World Trade Organisation. The costs for which may be heavy to bear for the Indian government. Secondly, Indian government’s developmental plans also depend on Chinese products. For example. in the field of solar power generation.

  5. China is the king of manufacturing. The chances are extremely low that a modern commercial gadget or device does not have a single component that is not made in China. Till what extent are we going to boycott Chinese goods? Obviously, there will only be a level till which the middle class won’t mind a boycott. No boycott of Xiaomi products but boycott for Diwali lights.

A boycott is not the solution and saying that boycott will shield the domestic industry and provide it with opportunity and time to flourish is not even possible now. However, this technique has been tried in the past, before the adoption of the New Economic Policy. It had failed utterly then. Many Indian players, during that time, just enjoyed the monopoly and provided the citizens with bad goods and services. Chinese products are important for healthy competition. If it is unhealthy in any way, the government has the power to check it. Just like it did in the case of steel import.

Instead of a boycott, supporting Indian businesses so that they can compete at the international level is the need of the hour. Imparting skill development, which is taken up by the government, to even generating awareness about the schemes and policies among fellow Indians is needed. Do not boycott Chinese products but help people in small enterprises. Understand how they can efficiently use electricity. By replacing old bulbs with LED lights. This will make the cost of the product come down. Do not boycott Chinese products but promote people like Arunachalam Muruganantham. He is a social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu. He started selling low-cost sanitary pads and generated awareness about traditional unhygienic practices in rural India. Do not boycott Chinese products but promote financial inclusion programmes and schemes such as Bank Sakhi and projects like Kudumbashree to reduce poverty and increase the purchasing power of poor Indians.

I will not boycott Chinese products this Diwali. Perhaps even many in many more Diwalis to come. For me, this boycott is not the solution to the problem. I would rather help Indian businesses by making them more effective, efficient and competitive. Maybe, in the near future, there will be a Diwali when we do not have to even think of boycotting Chinese products as Indian products will be our first choice in every aspect.

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Image source: Martin Abegglen/ Flickr

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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