We came back from our trip to the UK with two shopping bags. My daughter insisted I take them. She said it would be useful since there was a ban on plastic in the city. It was priced at 2 pounds each. They are neat. They hold large quantities. Easy to carry since the handles are designed so that they do not hurt the palm. After repeated use, feeling pleased with the purchase and thinking it was worth the money, I examined the bag to find this tiny tag stating – ethically made in India.
Take a look at this fragrance warmer my brother got me from the US. It looks beautiful, the work, as in the case of the jute bag, was neat – no jagged edges. I said aloud, such a beautiful piece, why can’t it be made here. And there it was, hidden away a small etching.. made in India !
While I am glad our goods are finding their way abroad, I wonder why inferior goods and export rejects finding their way into our stores? Why cannot we be more quality conscious and push our manufacturers to give us the same goods that they export?
Better quality basmati rice, jute and leather bags, good quality handlooms and handicrafts, superior apparel, better alphonso mangoes, specialty tea - all find their way out of India. We pay probably the same price for goods of lesser quality.
It is not as if the higher priced goods do not find a market here. One visit to the supermarket and you have shelves with poor quality Kashmiri Apples, shrivelled Nagpur Oranges competing with expensive Australian Kiwi , California grapes, Thai Rambutan and Chinese apples all ridiculously priced. And there are buyers for them too. It seems as if the display of poor quality Indian fruits with the better looking imported goods is intentional.
‘Yeh export quality hai’ is what the sales guy will tell you when he wants to push a product and wants to justify the price he has quoted. Export quality – that is to say only the best can be exported. The rest is for use at home. Are we not discerning enough or are we satisfied with sub-standard goods? When the best products from abroad find buyers here, why is it that the best made in our country is not available to the same buyer?
Do we need to shop abroad to bring our own ’quality’ goods back home?