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A government-supported campaign to sever ties with Chinese companies leaves India's live events businesses with a pricey dilemma
By IQ on 09 Sep 2020
Indian event businesses under pressure to boycott China are facing increased production costs for non-Chinese-made equipment.
Organisers of entertainment, corporate and other live events currently have a choice between buying event kit (sound, lighting, stages, trussing, etc.) at a higher cost from the US or Europe or continuing to purchase from a country widely regarded as public enemy no 1.
A third option – manufacturing these products in India – would require government support for the industry in the form of subsidies, says Modern Stage Service’s Pratik Wadhwa.
An influential, celebrity backed social-media campaign, launched in May, urges Indians to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the India–China border.
The most vicious fighting, in mid-June, saw an estimated 20 Indian and 43 Chinese soldiers lose their lives in melee combat in disputed areas of Kashmir; both sides, meanwhile, accuse each other of firing shots in a skirmish at the line of actual control (LAC) between the Indian territory of Ladakh and Chinese-occupied Tibet yesterday (7 September).
“Matching price with China will be difficult at present … but it is achievable in the long run”
India blames China for the incursions, and has even gone so far as to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps including TikTok and WeChat and Tencent-published Fortnite rival PUBG. The Chinese state-run Global Times accuses a nationalistic Indian media of inflaming tensions, warning that the press “must be reined in” if India wishes to avoid further conflict with Beijing.
Speaking to EventFAQs, Wadhwa, CEO of the New Delhi-based pro-AV distributor, explains: “95% of lighting and trussing, and all LED walls and LED TVs, are imported from China, [as is] cheaper audio equipment.
“The alternative to this is that either India needs to manufacture equipment or international companies have to start assembly lines in India. The Indian government will have to support this industry by giving subsidies.”
Santana Davis, the managing director of Bangalore’s J Davis Prosound & Lighting, adds: “My assumption is that a certain level of impact will surely be there on import of this equipment or materials from China if the current scenario between India and China doesn’t improve.
Davis notes that equipment imported from Western countries is “top-class”, but compared to a quality Chinese brand is “at least two or three times higher” in price.
Indians are urged to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the border
Both Wadhwa and Shivam Singh of pro-AV company Shivam Videos say they plan to start manufacturing audiovisual equipment domestically.
“We have got back into manufacturing lights in India,” explains Wadhwa. “Matching price with China will be difficult at present, because they produce for the world, but it is achievable in the long run.”
“We have already planned […] to import parts from Taiwan, Japan or Korea and assemble them in India,” adds Singh. “Later, we are also planning to start manufacturing in India.
“We want to support our nation and be self-sufficient. We are ready to support ‘Make in India’. But for that we would need the government’s support as well, as setting up a manufacturing unit is not easy.”
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