24 March 2016 06:14:37 IST

Chinese Holi colours taint ‘Make in India’ mission

Local gulal makers face losses owing to cheap –– and unsafe –– imports

For domestic manufacturers of the playful props of Holi, this year’s festival of colours will see their businesses sprayed a dismal shade of red.

In the midst of all the rhetoric over ‘Make in India’, manufacturers of sprinklers, balloons and colours are staring at huge losses this Holi due to the increased penetration of Made in China water guns and colours.

The latest Assocham report reveals that manufacturers in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and other States face huge losses as cheap Chinese water guns, wet and dry colours have been selling like hot cakes across India ahead of the festival of colours.

Each year, over 5,000 colour manufacturing units produce over five lakh kilograms of gulal for the festival. Assocham estimates that about one lakh kilogram of gulal is consumed across Gujarat, while UP alone consumes over two lakh kg as cities such as Allahabad and Varanasi celebrate Holi with zeal and have become popular with travellers.

Losing favour “The invasion of innovative and fancy Chinese Holi toys and colours despite the Union government’s efforts to promote ‘Make in India,’ is making survival difficult for small manufacturers. Most of them have been engaged in this business for decades and are now facing losses to the tune of a whopping 75 per cent as only about a quarter of their products find favour with customers,” noted the survey.

“There is a price differential of over 55 per cent between Chinese Holi colours and sprinklers and those made by local manufacturers, which is the primary reason for the former doing brisk business,” said DS Rawat, Assocham Secretary General, while releasing the findings of the survey.

Indian manufacturers allege that the Chinese products contain acids, alkalis, diesel, engine oil, glass powder, mica and harsh chemicals that damage the skin. The water guns, they add, are made from cheap plastic.

Some also blamed the rise in the price of raw materials such as water-soluble plant pigments and others for the slackening of business.

Widespread malaise Assocham representatives interacted with over 250 manufacturers, sellers suppliers and traders of Holi colours, water guns and other such products in various cities, including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Kanpur, Lucknow and Mumbai.

According to most of the respondents, traditional pichkaris have almost disappeared from the markets due to minimal consumer interest whereas Made in China Holi toys and colours, though cheap and said to be made from toxic products, are preferred by customers as they are much cheaper.