Before the coronavirus pandemic, importation of over $85 billion approximately equivalent to Rs.6375 billion was carried out between India and China, making it the largest source of imports for India. In China’s list, India come at the 7th position in the list of countries where they export computing to a share of 3% of their total exports. The major items imported from China includes mobile phones, electronic equipments, solar requirements, etc. which makes it the so called “manufacturing hub” not only for India, but for the entire world.

Imports vs exports between India and China in 2019

The onset of the pandemic gave birth to the campaign of Boycott China which synchronized with promotion of an “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”, both of which goes hands and gloves. It called out for the upgradation of cottage, small scale, home industries which serve as the means of support for millions of people living in India. This campaign will be effective in the long term in the sense that it will assist middle-class people pay their taxes on time and give a momentum to our farmers who toil in the fields notwithstanding the weather or any other perils.

Adding fuel to the fire of shoutouts for boycotting China was the Galwan Valley combat, taking lives of around 20 Indian soldiers. The upsurge was followed by the display of customs data by the Chinese government, screening that Chinese exports to India had taken a leap by 25% as equated to the same period in 2019.

Chinese exports to India crash 25% in 2020

India finds its major occupation as agriculture. We are fortunate enough to have innumerable resources to produce our own food. However, the raw materials for some of our industries including pharmaceuticals and fabrics, comes from China. India’s free trade agreements (FTAs) exists with countries such as Bangladesh. Chinese fabric is manufactured into garments in Bangladesh and imported at lower costs to India where the raw material production could have been done by our farmers.

But the question that arises is: How will boycotting China help the mainstream agriculture? The answer is that this movement automatically surfaces “Swadeshi” swirl in our country. Instance of this includes a group of tribal women from Chattisgarh harvesting “Mahua”, a flower used for producing alcohol, a major component in hand sanitizers. In my own state Jharkhand, tribal women have started harvesting “Lemon Grass”, a type of herb which is very useful in enhancing the quality of cosmetics and also used as a medicine. These examples clearly reflect the power of India’s resources.

A visual showing Mahua flowers being dried in Jashpur, Chattisgarh

The agrarian distress is pertinent reason responsible for deterrent growth of agriculture sector. Often hinged on moneylenders and other informal sector, farmers come under burden and thus commit suicide. It is high time that we think of solving this problem in a holistic manner.

Doubling farmers' income should be done forthwith, which is only conceivable by increasing production and productivity and that is where the role of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat comes into play. To address some agricultural structural issues currently prevalent, the following reforms have been chalked out by the government during the pandemic:

  • Decision of the government to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in farm gate infrastructure and logistics.
  • Plans to impose licensing necessities for ingress of goods to boost local manufacturing.
  • A central law to evade Mandis and APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) reorganizations for e-trading.
  • Announcement of issue of Kisan Credit Cards to 2.5 crore new farmers for concessional credit covering all PM-KISAN heirs at law.
  • Providing 6,000 villages with Optical Fibre network, current count of which is 1.5 lakhs.

Indian farmers connected with traders to support boycott of Chinese goods and increase their productivity

There are other problems, the solution of which will give an impetus to our farmers through the narrative “Vocal for Local”. These include land reforms, merging of disjointed holdings, sharecropper’s precision on titles, proprietorship, digitalisation, landless labour, etc.

With respect to Boycott China and instead encourage Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the agricultural domain, India needs to ponder upon different strategies founded on its resources, retool numerous facets of economy and focus on implementation in the medium-to-long term. Only through this, can India’s farms achieve domination on the global expertise and capital.