Made in China

One of my friends recently returned from an onsite trip from the US to her home in India. As expected, she went home with twice the amount of luggage, carrying gifts for all and sundry. They were duly given out, bringing smiles on the faces of people who got the 'Umreeka se gift'. My friend was happy until she overheard one conversation where an old uncle of hers was commenting (in private) to his wife that my friend had probably bought the gifts in India itself. "See this Made in China stamp here? You can buy these things nowadays in any mall around here!". To say the least, she was very disappointed as she told me about this.

My first reaction was, "Don't get anything for that old bugger from now on. In fact, rub the salt in and get gifts for everyone but that hag". But then I began to wonder why he had such a judgement. Perhaps the reason was that he had never seen the way foreign goods have flooded American markets here. Almost all clothes are made in India or Sri Lanka, stationary comes from Vietnam, electronic items come from Malaysia or Indonesia, and then almost everything else comes from China. Right from bicycles to plates to phones to anything that you can name. So while hunting for gifts for people in Walmart or such places, it is next to impossible to get things that are made exclusively in the USA: you just wouldn't find them! And who says that the American market is the only place that has been flooded by these items? Look around yourself --- these international goods are coming in, at every place, every market. The laws of economics will prevail: whenever there is a cheaper alternative at the same quality, anyone will buy the cheaper one.

The bigger problem perhaps is the naysaying or maybe the colonial hangover. I am pretty sure that his kind of man sits at the roadside tea stall and professes to anyone who has time, "Iss desh ka kuchh nahi ho sakta" (No good can come of this country). The kind who will be the first to tell you all the bad things that can happen if you dare venture outside. The frog in the well who refuses to believe that a sea exists. "Oder deshe eisob hoi naki, okhane sob kichhu machine diye jhotpot hoye jai" (Do you think it happens like this in their country? Everything happens smoothly with a machine there). Through consecutive blood-sucking governments, local hooligans and wearisome riots, they have become cynics --- they cannot believe that something good might come of the whole ruckus. Disappointing, incredulous and despairingly morbid; thats the vibe you get around them: no wonder they can't believe that something made in China might be selling in the USA as well, since it is available locally in India.

The bizzare part is not just the way you see the Asian products flooding the markets, but the actual Asian populace too! Everywhere, there are Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Pakistani, Sri Lankan people around us... it is not the all-blonde thing you imagined from the movies. The world is truly merging, and the product that prevails is the one whose quality over price ratio is the highest. Talk about Indian software engineers, Chinese toys, Sri Lankan jeans trousers: if it is what makes business sense, then you'll find it there. Therefore, all ye family members of mine who will receive gifts from me when I go home, remember... you are bound to get some stuff that is "Made in China".


  1. I hate to say this, but every time I see a made in India product I know it is made in India mostly due to the poor workmanship. Of course there are occasional nice products that surprise me, but most of the time I wonder why we can't beat the Chinese at quality. That said, in case you read about a toy company recalling its products that were made in China because of the high lead level or of the sweatshops etc. Made in China, for many Americans, is turning out to be the reason not to buy stuff. And you would never see me buying Chinese lights to decorate my house on Diwali...I prefer the big desi bulbs to those shimmery bad quality thin lights!


  2. you said it. i once overheard a v small kid asking his dad at walmart: dad what is china - everything says made in china!

    here in the UK, at the uni, or around town - it's flooded with asians! you almost dont see white people around. i dont know if it's good or bad

  3. Ricecars comment reminds me...come to the midwest and you will see nothing but white...there were days when the only brown I saw was my reflection in the mirror (and since I don't usually prefer to inflict pain on myself, and hence go days without doing that, sometimes, I would go as long as a week before seeing brown) ;p

  4. Errmmm the last anon comment was by sky


  5. may be this fascination of foreign or made in some exotic location needs to wither

  6. Sorry, I have no sympathy for your friend, because it was a point so obvious that she should have actually expected remarks like that. I must say your friend was the foolish one, imagining that the gifts she bought were unique. Sorry to sound even more cynical, but the world is fast becoming disillusioned .

    I think the best option in the future for gifting would be to give away cash or cash coupons and allow people to go out and buy whatever they want. It might not look too sophisticated but that way disappointment can be avoided and people won't compare their gifts as they bought the stuff themselves.

    The whole idea of gift-giving should change. Bah.

  7. Sky, like I said, quality gets a higher priority over price, but at the same quality the lower priced one wins. And a week without looking at the mirror? :P :P God help those near you!

    Ricercar, haha... that must have been funny and thought-provoking at the same time! I don't worry about the good or bad of it, so long as it doesn't affect me adversely.

    Pallavi, yeah... I'm sure it will go down with time.

    Hari, I disagree. A gift in itself doesn't matter, the gesture matters. She had took the trouble of hauling things halfway across the globe and she got to hear that. And I don't like giving away gift certificates... if they don't like my gift, they wouldn't get the next time!

  8. Made in china is *everywhere*... and since long. Even in Japan they have it.. though as such the two ethnicities don't gel very well. But then as we all know, chinese stuff is sasta and tikau :).

    and in case u want some really high quality stuff, then one needs to make sure it is NOT made in china.

  9. You're too sentimental, Sudipta, about what is essentially a materialistic gesture.

    I understand that "gesture" is a part of it, but I think it's unnecessary and condescending to buy gifts in my opinion. Nobody needs to haul goods halfway across that globe that can be bought in the neighbourhood store and nobody needs to accept gifts. That's just stupid.

    People who buy gifts should think a bit about the person they're buying gifts for and consider whether the gift would be useful or not, otherwise it's a meaningless, empty gesture in my book. I'm willing to bet the remark would not have been made had the person been happy with the item purchased.

    So yes, giving gifts should be a thoughtful gesture and not a showy one.

    I'm always annoyed with people giving and expecting gifts whenever somebody returns from abroad. The whole thing is useless. It's become more like a stupid ritual than anything else.

    Sorry about sounding so annoyed. It's just that the crass materialism of gift-giving and the hypocrisy people adopt when giving and receiving gifts in general make me mad.

  10. Twilight Fairy, umm... their stuff is pretty cheap, yes... the tikau part may be a bit suspect :)

    Hari, I agree with what you say here as well, although maybe not completely. And I hate showy gestures myself, when someone tries to show off his wealth by bringing expensive presents to show off his stature. And yes, when someone returns from abroad then not everyone can expect gifts: but if someone has brought something for you then you must appreciate it, and not 'suspect' that they were just bought locally and being passed off as foreign made! If she had bought them locally, then she would've told so upfront.

  11. :) First time I was in the US a few yrs back, went shopping for a gift for dad, thought, lets get him a nice Amreekan shirt, checked the tag, Made in Malaysia! :o

  12. It is not just toys, but also toilets too that are getting exported from China


  13. Duhita, such is life! :)

    TV, hey! welcome onboard! And yes, a lot of stuff does come from China.


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