A news article appeared in the first page of ‘Hindustan Times’ New Delhi edition on Monday, October 26, 2009. This article talked about the made-in-China globe flooding the Indian market. Nothing was unusual as it has become norm now of Chinese goods beating the hell out of Indian products in India’s own domestic market, I won’t dwell much into that. However, the particular point this article highlighted and that even made into a headline that the in the map of India, Kashmir was shown as separate region, with Aksai Chin under Chinese map. This ‘map’ fully violates India’s integrity and laws relating to maps.
The question here is not what Chinese are doing, democracy in China is well known (either way you take it), but what we are doing. Yes, our acts and action putting our own integrity into stake. These globes are imported into India, mark the word imported, that is it requires an importer. This importer has to have a valid permission (or license) to trade; the person invariably in most of the cases is an ‘Indian’.
“There are layers beneath layers here: Chinese companies that manufacture these misleading maps, importers who misrepresent what they are bringing in to evade customs duty, and shopkeepers who sell the items to make a quick buck” says one Indian official and this underlines the role of ‘Indians’ here. The Indian importer who ‘lies’ to the custom, masquerading globe as a lampshade, just for saving duty on the imported goods jeopardizing the integrity of the country.
This practice is not new, remember just few years back when India and China were beginning to talk trade, there was a flood of Chinese calculators selling Rs. 15 apiece, or were marked up at that price. The dawn of free trade with lesser barriers had dawned over the country, and imports were liberalized. Later, it was revealed that these stuff were not imported as a good, they were used as stuffing for some different product, or were marked up at a such a low price that incidence of the tax on that product becomes negligible; in short, they were smuggled.
Usually whenever a product is imported into the country, especially books and maps, they are usually stamped that ‘maps do not represent the political boundaries of India’, this is because most of the maps occupied territories within the jurisdiction of other countries. This is done, so that kids, who are actual targets of the map, do not get a wrong impression about the borders of the country. It is done so that they could appreciate problems faced by the country in a much better perspective, and not to claim, when they grow up, that this territory is in foreign country. This is why I kept using the words ‘integrity of the country.’
I won’t dwell in the minds that produce such maps. It is useless, as it is the only thing expected. But I must say that those dishonest importers, who for the profit, are selling something vicious, are as good are traitors and to be tried for treason.
Free trade is good. But the free trade must be within the boundaries of responsibilities. Free trade doesn’t means freer trade, where you arm your own enemy to attack you.
© Tarun Mitra