With coronavirus claiming more than 2,000 lives across the world, with a vast majority of these deaths reported in China, till Wednesday, effects of the epidemic can now be seen in Jharkhand as well. Until some time ago, Chinese products were preferred over their desi counterparts because they are cheaper. However, people in Bokaro and Jamshedpur have now started boycotting Chinese products and cuisine in fear of the virus.
In Bokaro, traders said demand for electronics, cosmetics, toys, mobile phones and anything Chinese have dipped. “People are so scared that they are not even touching Chinese items at shops,” said Rahul Kumar, a toy-seller at City Centre Market. He added, “People fear that the virus might have entered the products and travelled from China and can spread to their homes if they buy them. This is bizarre.” A cosmetics shop owner, Kiran Kumari, said, “Chinese cosmetics were in vogue among women. However, ever since the Coronavirus outbreak, people have even stopped trying them out from the samples we have.”
Unverified WhatsApp forwards asking people to stop buying Chinese items have added to the traders’ woes. Ahead of Holi, shopkeepers have switched over to country-made products when China-made pichkaris and colours are far cheaper. Rajesh Sao, a vendor said, “This year, we have only ordered pichkaris that are manufactured in India.”
Speaking to TOI, owner of West Inn Hotel, a city-based multi-cuisine restaurant known for its Chinese dishes, said, “Some customers are avoiding Chinese food. Many patrons are asking us if we use Chinese spices and ingredients in our dishes.”
President of Bokaro Chamber of Commerce and Industries Sanjay Baid said, “The outbreak of the virus has affected retail and wholesale markets of Chinese products. Residents have become conscious while purchasing goods and they avoid Chinese items. In a way, it’s good because indigenous products have got a push.”
In Jamshedpur, demand for Chinese electronics and mobile phone accessories has fallen. Sheikh Akbar, a Bistupur-based shopkeeper, said, “Not only has the demand for Chinese items fallen, the quantity of the products coming in from the country has also dipped. We can’t sell the products at cheaper rates as we would run into loses.” Akhil Tandi, manager of restaurant Chinese Inn, said, “Sale of Chinese dishes has dipped drastically in the last three weeks and customers because of fear of the virus.”
Secretary of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Suresh Sonthalia admitted that there has been a fall in demand for Chinese items. “The government should examine whether import of goods from China or Chinese goods imported from other countries pose a threat to the health of people. If the fears are baseless, steps should be taken to educate people.”―Times of India