cross-border issues

Think before you fall for #BoycottChina. Breaking trade ties will hurt Indian business

The economic dependence between the neighbours has been increasing and India relies heavily on Chinese imports.

Even as India and Pakistan are at loggerheads over the militant raid on an Army base camp in Kashmir’s Uri and subsequent surgical strikes on September 28 by the Indian military on “terror launchpads” across the Line of Control, China once again blocked India’s bid at the United Nations to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

This was seen as China’s way of expressing tacit support to Pakistan, which India has blamed for the September 18 Uri attack that killed 19 soldiers, and which has denied India’s claims of surgical strikes. After China on October 1 stalled the process of declaring Azhar a terrorist, many Bharatiya Janata Party leaders called for a boycott of Chinese goods. Azhar, who is considered to be the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, is an accused in the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and the January terror raid on the Pathankot Air Force Station in Punjab.

China had also vetoed India's bid in March to have the UN label Azhar as a terrorist.

In a series of tweets on Monday, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said that buying Chinese goods was like giving “indirect support to a terrorist country” . However, he later deleted them and someone who identified himself as Pranjal posted from his Twitter account and claimed that he had posted the tweets without the BJP leader’s approval.

Many others, including Haryana Sports Minister Anil Vij, however, stood by the boycott, claiming that Chinese exports are hurting the Indian economy. Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also asked the people to avoid buying Chinese products for the ongoing Durga Puja festival. This sentiment found favour among social media users, who posted several tweets with the tag #BoycottChina.

Number game

The buzz also predictably trickled to instant-messaging application WhatsApp, with messages doing the rounds urging people to stop buying goods made in China and cut trade ties with the East Asian giant.

But like so many other messages circulated on WhatsApp, this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

India is heavily dependent on Chinese imports and any weakening of trade ties between the two countries will substantially hurt Indian businesses. China is India’s biggest trading partner, with the total value of imports and exports exceeding Rs 4.6 lakh crore. The US, which is next, barely touches the Rs 4 lakh crore mark in total trade.

As the chart above shows, India imports about seven times as many goods and services from China than it exports to it, in one of the world's biggest trade deficits between two nations.

These imports range from consumer electronics such as phones and laptops to nuclear machinery. Other major imports include plastic items, industrial goods, and vehicles.

So dependent is India on Chinese imports that even as India’s global trade shrank by almost 20% during 2011 to 2016 owing to a global slowdown, its imports from China grew by a healthy 11.5%.

Moreover, China is manufacturing hub for many global brands like Apple, whose products are the lifeline of big Indian retailers and traders.

Strong dependence

There has been a greater economic integration with as well as dependence on China ever since it replaced the US as India’s biggest trade partner. China signed trade pacts worth $10 billion last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited it.

A healthy trade relationship with China is a matter of life and death for India – literally. India is reliant on China for about 90% of the raw materials required for its pharmaceutical industry according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group.

“Any deterioration in relationship with China can potentially result in severe shortages in the supply of essential drugs to the country,” Bart Janssens, partner, Boston Consulting Group was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. "Additionally, China could easily increase prices of some of these drugs where it enjoys virtual monopoly."

Commentators have long been pointing out the need to shore up India’s manufacturing sector to boost Indian exports and balance trade with China so that it is not reliant on one country for multiple commodities.

The way ahead

Instead of a boycott, India should try to understand which Chinese products are actually essential. The assumption that Chinese imports are economically more competitive than homegrown products or those produced in other countries has also been challenged. A study carried out by SK Mohanty for the Reserve Bank of India in 2014 found that one-third of all products imported by India from China in 2012 were at relatively uncompetitive prices.

“The magnitude of uncompetitive bilateral imports from China increased from $6.3 billion in 2007 to US$ 8.4 billion in 2008, and further to US$ 9.7 billion in 2012,” the study noted. “Empirical evidences indicate that bilateral imports from China have been uncompetitive in several sectors including textiles and clothing, automotive, chemicals, etc.”

The study concluded that the neighbours have a strong potential to emerge as “efficient partners” in many sectors.

“India is likely to gain from its engagement with China, provided cautious approach needs to be pursued to restore long-term interest of India from its bilateral economic engagement,” it said.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.