A recent version of displaying nationalism is the call to boycott Chinese products. The appeal would have acquired nationalistic sense if it would have been guided by the desire to protect the local producers and workers in India. But the call for boycott is only because of Chinese position on Kashmir. Using the same logic, will the same nationalism be displayed by boycotting oil import from Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)? Some of the OPEC countries too have been critical of India on Kashmir issue. Will the same be displayed by reducing dependence from abroad on arms? 70% of Indian military arms are produced outside. Will the same nationalism be displayed by boycotting the products produced by Union Carbide (renamed as Ever-ready) and stopping their Indian operations? Union carbide had created a human disaster in Bhopal but succeeded in going scot free and continue to operate.
Dependency on China is not only for cheaper products such as crackers and toys, but also for higher end products such as electronics and machinery. Some of the popular brands of higher end mobiles are from China such as Lenovo, Gionee, Xiaomi, One plus. Will the nationalists put an end to usage of higher end mobiles including i phones produced in China. How can one describe the statue of unity, the grand project to construct the statue of Vallabhai Patel being made in China? How can construction of the statue by a Chinese firm Jiangxi Tongqing foundry be described?
How can the attempt of Prime Minister, to woo the Chinese investors to invest in India, be described. In his visit to China in May 2015, he met 22 CEOs of top Chinese companies and appealed for investments in India. The whole concept of ‘Make in India’ too is based on the idea of converting India into a sweatshop and a source of cheap labour for ‘foreign companies’, including that of Chinese.
The usage of the word nationalism in the name of boycotting Chinese products is a matter of convenience. Why not boycott all the junk products produced abroad in any country which keep getting advertised on TV through teleshopping. The call for boycotting Chinese products is just another means of creating jingoism through pointing an external enemy and building xenophobia around the same.
T. Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher. He did his M.Phil from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)