Made in China

Back in the 1960s, we had a lot of stuff from USA — not expensive dollar priced things but items of daily use like plastic items used in the kitchen, nail cutters and the like. We were all agog at being able to use stuff from the US. Strangely though, the objects were very flimsy and broke easily making us wonder if even the Americans made substandard stuff! Till one day we found the fine print on the ‘phoren maal’ — it read: ‘Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association’ (USA) 😀  Some enterprising businessmen of the said suburb of Mumbai had come together to create a tag that would get them business and the consumers the satisfaction of being able to buy ‘imported’ stuff for their daily use, all at an affordable price!

Our craze for imported items might have only reduced slightly. I still remember the Burma Bazaar in Chennai, where you could buy  electronic goods that were highly priced in the Indian open market, at cheap rates — never mind the fact that the said items would not last long or if it did, would not find a spare part when it conked off. Once you left the shop with the said item, the shopkeeper would not recognise either you or his own merchandise.

Today though, these markets selling grey goods have lost their sheen, thanks to the China Bazaar items that are flooding the markets. The variety of the goods is mind-boggling.  I used to buy pet jars to store provisions and stuff in the kitchen and one day when I went shopping for them, I found some unbranded ones, neatly packed in threes and priced at less than half of the regular brand I bought. Not one to miss a bargain, I picked up a couple of the packs, wondering how they could be so cheap. Mind you, those were the days when Chinese items were still not sold openly as they are now, since they were reputed to be of poor quality. The shopkeeper simply said that they were ‘local’ made!

When I opened the jars at home, I saw some writing in Chinese on the insides of the lids! The jars were not so sturdy as the PET jars of Indian companies and lost their shape and shine in a few months and had to be given away to the maid. Since then I have become wiser and ask the shopkeepers if they are made in China and they sheepishly nod their heads. Needless to say, I steer clear of them!

These low-priced items have created a market of their own and people ask for Chinese items when they can’t afford the same from the branded Indian market. They probably trust a Chinese product of dubious quality to buying a similar unbranded local product. Needless to say, these items don’t last the month out and cost much more due to the repeat purchases one has to make. One product in question is the CFL bulb, which costs Rs. 30 when it is of Chinese or ‘local’ make but costs five times more when you buy the branded one.

So the equation works in reverse today: Many small Indian manufacturers — who would never be able to compete in the open market with branded items —  are dumping their ware as Chinese and getting away with it! Reminds me of the Made in USA items of my childhood!

Since most Chinese items don’t carry a brand name or if they do, do not say where they are made, it is easy for these small Indian manufacturers to get away. One tends to believe this claim since we can get everything from pooja lamps to images of gods which are ostensibly made in China! These low priced items typically carry no manufacturer’s details but sometimes have instructions weirdly worded that are supposedly literally translated from Chinese!

Far from being items of snob value for being ‘imported’ like their Western counterparts of yore, the Chinese products are considered infra-dig by the knowledgeable Indians. They would rather own a tube light made by say, Anchor or Bajaj than go for a cheap nameless one. And this is a great morale booster for us Indians who hasten to say that such-and-such product is of Indian make, lest someone thought it was Chinese!

But wait! It is not just the low cost and flimsy stuff that the Chinese are making. It would appear that almost every big manufacturer worth his salt has shifted his base to the land of the pandas! , for being ‘imported’,But when I looked at the back of the pack, I found the legend ‘Made in China’ winking at me!  Why dolls, even such electronic items like DVD players, iPods, mobile phones and such are all coming out of China, with well known Western brand names. So today, willy-nilly we all end up using some Chinese made product in our daily lives.

Is this a silent economic take over or what?

33 comments

  1. tweedlethumb · · Reply

    the toxic elements are not exclusive to Chinese products…but it’s irrelevant..and it doesn’t require so much of discussion..my attention has shifted wholly towards the other article..the one dealing with corruption.

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    1. Good. So when can we expect a post from you in reaction, so that I can link you? Are you going to pick up the tag?

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  2. tweedlethumb · · Reply

    YES, precisely that. Chinese companies are making huge profits in the Indian market. Now, our desi market is scared of losing out to Chinese/Taiwanese competitors. So, they take the issue up with the market regulatory authority. Ah! The Indians and their wit. They come up with an unique idea – BAN the Chinese products, yes just BAN the goddamned products !
    They contain ‘harmful chemicals which could be fatal’ – leading to cancer (‘cancer’ in any form scares the aam admi) and what not !

    Nice article, once again !

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    1. There is no need to warn the aam admi of these ‘scary’ things. They actually are toxic. The worst part is that even the most mundane stuff we use in the house come from China.

      I am glad you enjoyed the post.

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    2. There is no need to scare the aam admi about the toxic nature of the Chinese maal. They ARE toxic. I am glad you liked the post.

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  3. Must say, a great post. Almost 90% of the world’s laptops are made in China, and incidentally most in a few big factories. One Fedex Boeing 747 filled with laptops flies from China to the US daily. Noone in untouched by the Made in China tag.

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    1. Welcome here Manish. Sometimes I am really worried that we are allowing a dragon in our homes which might start breathing fire any time!

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  4. Chinese goods have only attracted the lower-middle (and the lower) income group as these goods generally are copies of branded stuff. Those cannot afford the banded ones, go for China stuff. And yeah, it is so true that these Chinese things actually cost higher due to their very low longevity.

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    1. It is not being attracted to Chinese goods, which of course, the less well-to-do go for, but the fact that all big companies of the west, notably US, UK and Germany have their goods manufactured in China. You only need to take a look the goods and the legend will stare at you!

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  5. Hey Z…love the look of your new site!!! and i love love the image!

    I hate the chinese goods…coz they would break/not work in the first instance and then accumulate as junk in my house..coz they were “too new” to throw away!

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    1. Thanks NN! All credit goes to the second one of the erstwhile brats! You like the new image? LOL suits me to the T doesn’t it?

      We are all stuck with Chinese materials whether we like it or not!

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  6. Congratulations and celebrations for this new home for Cyber Nag 😀

    Enjoyed the post . LOL and the site is so beautifully done. I wish I too get to have one soooon.

    I always try to locate Indian brands but the Made in China is everywhere and that too is spurious many a times . LOL Indians are making things with made in China labels and its selling

    Good read

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    1. Thanks Tikuli! A happening blogger like you — I am sure you will get one soon! 🙂

      Chinese are slowly taking over the economic scene of the entire world and that too very subtly!

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  7. your profile pic is adorable zephyr…:) I loauuve it

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  8. First of all, congratulations on the new home for your words! Was a great step for your blog I reckon, and you have done a great job out of it. Interesting blog as usual. I wish we could flood the international mkt like China too, afterall we are a 1 Billion and still growing nation!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Richa! Encouragement like this is what makes me going! As for flooding the market, it is simply disconcerting that a nation as accomplished as ours is still allowing China to flood our markets! I wonder what that proves: theiy being better or us being pushovers!

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  9. I loved the post..It’s so true about Chinese goods flooding the markets. I didn’t realised how worried I was about unethical production and marketing till I was involved in this series about Chinese toys made of potentially hazardous materials for children. Btw, just an aside, as a little child, my grandmom and mom lured me into not biting my nails by promising to apply cutex on it…I thought it was a generic name till I got older and wiser and cringed at the cutex usage still continuing..The other day, I chanced upon a bottle of cutex nail polish at the Superdrug here..Can you imagine my excitement..it was like I had found ‘Indian’ maal in a mall..;)

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    1. Finding something out of your childhood in a ‘phoren’ country sure would have kicked you up! You are right about the hazardous toys — the markets are flooded with them. While the downmarket shops have unbranded Chinese toys, the upmarket ones have all these branded ones. But at least we can be sure of some quality control on the latter.

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  10. Congratulations for this wonderful new home…you have such a sweet kid 🙂
    I have missed many of your posts because of my move from UK to India…see I told you we must be soul sisters when it comes to moving houses 😛

    As for chinese maal..this phenomenon is there worldwide..its also there in UK..most products these days are made in China…I would say they are quite ingenious in this regard 🙂

    Will start reading your posts quite soon…and am subscribing to your new blog now..

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    1. Lazy Pineapple,

      The kid is 25 years old 😛

      Vineet

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      1. A kid is a kid to the mother no matter how old, isn’t it? Well maybe I will make it ‘son’ in future, ok son?

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    2. Thanks LP! i have also been quite busy with my granddaughter in UK! That’s right, I came here about the time you perhaps left! 🙂 And yes, we are soul sisters in moving. See, i even moved blogs! 😀 All the best settling in! I have a great son who has helped me settle in this site! 🙂 Waiting for your witty posts. Start posting!

      Just came back from your blog. My mind was not up to the mark to give a caption. i will return again and post one!

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  11. Some good thoughts. For what it’s worth, I don’t think China will have an easy ride. A point will come when the low paid see the rich milking them and then industrial action really gets going. There will be a lot of turmoil.
    Nice new site, by the way.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback on the site, AN. 🙂

      you are right about the low paid rising up against the exploiters. History does repeat itself, doesn’t it? But for now, we have everything coming out of the sweatshops of China!

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  12. Nice new site 😀

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    1. Thanks Titaxy!

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  13. thanks for all the comments Ratzzz! Poor Vinni, i am still torturing him, so can you wait awhile? 😀

    did you check the fine print on the ‘mini’ bulb? maybe it says, Made in China? 🙂

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  14. Love the layout… simple and nice…

    psst: i followed u in twitter… am i coaxing u enuf?? love the twitter bird on top

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    1. Just noticed the favicon and literally rolling on the floor laughing 😀 Hilarious!!

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  15. ha hahaha.. so accept on the CFL part… was happily buying 30 rs bulbs… last week wanted to check the wipro bulbs… large size was Rs.145 and mini size was Rs. 140.. then how its mini escapes me totally 😐

    and hey welcome to the club… now i ll go off and torture vinni to get me a new website too 😀

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  16. You bet, Varsha! How do you like the design and layout? I love it just as much as I love the brat! 😀

    It is scary the way everything seems to be originating only at one place. but one thing is that the big companies are only having them made there, but marketing them in their own name. so we can at least hope for some quality, right?

    Like

  17. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vishal Sukheja, Vineet Rajan. Vineet Rajan said: Made in China http://goo.gl/fb/5J1fw […]

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  18. First of all….congratulations for having a son who’d be nice enough to gift you a website! Must be feeling lucky right? 🙂 🙂

    I’ve always abhorred using such cheap stuff, honestly. When we were kids we did have a similar attachment for ‘imported’ stuff, but with age it went off, especially after we witnessed Mom’s complaints when they were sub-standard.
    You’re right. Many people now choose to dump their goods as Chinese made in the market and easily get away with it. We consumers have an added job of first identifying and the buying a genuine product.
    Silent takeover? May be! Since labour is lot more cheaper in China, there’s no thing called democracy and they seem to be adamant to being the next Super Power!

    Like

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