India has the great cultural diversity and is called the land of festivals, temples, holistic congregations and teerth-yatras (holistic voyage). As per the Rajya Sabha data, India celebrates 51 festivals throughout the year, of which 17 are nationally recognised and remaining 34 are celebrated at regional level
Besides these festivals, as per 2011 census, we have 2.1 million temples across the country which attract enormous stock of wealth through offerings and donations. Temples and festivals together boost-up the whole economy, prosper the business and keep Indian economy vibrant through balanced expenditure. Festivals integrate the economy and society into oneness where happiness and sustainable expenditure give the stimulus to market forces, which keep Indian economy away from being sluggish for a long time.
The people of this holy country have rejected the western growth theories and development models, particularly JM Keynes who encouraged the consumerism in the western societies as well as partially in India owing to adaptation of mixed economic model and demonstration effects. Western growth theories discourage the saving system and pattern, while in India people saves money for family functions, social relations, cultural festivals, temple donations, pilgrimage along with precautionary expenditure. 1.28 billion population of this country do needful consumption in sustainable manner especially on auspicious moments and festivals.
Festival economy is rapidly soaring with sizable growth rate. ASSOCHAM estimates that lord Ganesh festival generates about Rs 20,000 crore business across the country with 20 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), particularly in Maharashtra and Telangana. Hyderabad alone generates about Rs 5,000 crore business in nine-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival and provides employment for more than 20,000 families throughout the year and during peak season of Ganesh festival (July-September). Around 60,000 people get employment opportunities in unorganised sector such as idol manufacturing sector, transportation sector, event management, flags and apparel manufacturing activities, etc.
like Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja generates about Rs 40,000 crore business in India with 35 per cent CAGR, particularly in West Bengal. The size of Durga Puja economy almost equals to one-third of the West Bengal’s annual Budget. Thousands of families are traditionally involved in idol-making activity across the nation. Many branded electronic companies are involved in sponsoring Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata and artists from different countries, even from Pakistan, comes to Kolkata during the festival to give the decorative finishing touches to Maa Durga. Event management companies from France and the US are engaging in Kolkata in easing the entire activities of advertisements and cultural event programmes at Durga Puja pandals. All these artists and event management companies from different countries are capturing the festival economy and profiteering out of these festivals in a significant manner. During nine-day Durga Puja, food and beverages alone generates Rs 50-60 crore business.
All the festivals in India encourages the unorganised economy in a large scale and provides massive employment opportunities for low-skilled traditional household manufacturing sector and small micro entrepreneurs. Raksha Bandhan festival generates about Rs 400 crore business and provides employment to more than 4,000 families in Gujarat.
During Diwali, electronics, automobiles and apparel dominate the lion’s share of business. 52 per cent of the apperal products sales take place during this auspicious festival and every individual spends 20 per cent additional expenditure for various reasons. According to Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TNFAMA), crackers industry plays a dominant role with Rs 10,000 crore business and provides employment to thousands of families in Sivakasi of Tamil Nadu.
India celebrates kite festival during Uttarayanam period and this festival generates about Rs 500 crore business in the country particularly in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Kite industry is traditionally a household occupation which provides employment to more than 6,000 families of Gujarat. By considering the due potential of kite industry in terms of business and employment, then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi promoted this festival as an International Kite Festival through Vibrant Gujarat Programme.
China’s onslaught on India’s festival economy
India is the largest trade partner for Chinese products (nearly $72 billion), and over the years, import of toys, furniture, building hardware, crackers, lighting and electric fittings, furnishing fabric,office stationary, electronic appliances, consumer electronics, kitchen equipment & appliances, gift items, watches, etc, from China has increased to a great extent. Majority of these items are produced in small and micro industries in India, where investment, technology and update skill is lacking. All these products have been largely purchased in India during festive season and the lion’s share of these products market has been captured by China through large scale dump into India with cheap price.
ASSOCHAM surveyed 1,000 families of Holi colour manufacturers in different parts of the country i.e., Allahabad, Agra, Hathras, Mathura, Brindavan, Delhi, Kanpur, lucknow and Patna. It is revealed that 8-10 lakh job losses are happening due to Chinese invasion on auspicious Holi colours. It reported that 75 per cent of the colours from China have been used during last year Holi in India. China is also capturing the accessories, plastic products and colour sprinkler guns at worth of Rs 18,000 crore.
China overrun illuminous lightings and fireworks during the festival of Diwali. According to the TNFAMA and Industry executives, out of Rs 10,000 crore business of fireworks, 40 per cent of the market is captured by Chinese firework products, adversely affecting about 2.5 lakh Indian artisans who earn a chunk of their total income during Diwali days.
Apart from crackers, Chinese toys are also impacting the Indian toy industry. According to the ASSOCHAM, the Indian market is full of Chinese toys. Nearly 40 per cent of Indian toy companies have been closed in the last five years, and rest 20 per cent are struggling for the break-even level. Cheap Chinese products have become the reason for the shutdown of nearly 60 per cent of the industrial units in Bhiwandi and Thane.
As per media reports, ports in Maharashtra and Gujarat are the primary entry points for illegal Chinese crackers entering India; it has affected the livelihood of over 500,000 households in Sivakasi and 4,00,000 small factories in West Bengal. There are many instances when China dumped Vinayaka Idols in a large scale at cheap prices to close down the Indian idol manufacturing units and artisan activities.
China has $46.56 billion trade surplus with India causing the closure of small scale manufacturing industry and threatening large-scale employment in India. China supports Pakistan with CPEC project and is investing about $438 million in Pakistan out of the trade surplus with India. China is not only looting Indian economy it also supports Pakistan’s terror activities against India.
Therefore, we need to promote Indian manufacturing sector at large scale. We must promote Indian manufacturing products during festive seasons and should celebrate swadeshi festival with swadeshi products. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “let us pledge that by 2022, when we mark 75 years of Independence, we would take the nation to greater heights of progress. let us commit ourselves as an individual, as a citizen, as a society and organisation that we would contribute for betterment of the country” through encouraging swadeshi philosophy and economy.
(The writer is Dr S Radhakrishnan Post-Doctoral Fellow in Economics at JNU, New Delhi)