Chinese ‘pichkaris’ flood Indian markets

March 20th, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) After flooding the Indian markets with crackers and lamps during Diwali, it is now time for China-made merchandise to capture the imagination of those shopping for pichkaris and watercolours this Holi. From bright coloured water canons to smaller water pistols and the traditional pichkaris (water pumps) to glittering confetti, makeshift stalls that have mushroomed in the national capital are swarming with Chinese Holi merchandise.

These pichkaris are also more colourful and better designed than their Indian counterparts. They are available at a price range of Rs.15 to Rs.1,500.

“Innovation is the key factor for the popularity of the Chinese pichkaris. They have captured almost 75 percent of the market in north India,” says Vishnu Swarup Agrawal, president of the Toy Association of India.

“The Chinese are dominating the toy market during Indian festivals - be it for firecrackers during diwali, Santa Claus figurines and Christmas tree decorations or pichkaris during Holi,” Agarwal told IANS.

As one scouts around the market place, one finds water cannons shaped like the AK-47 rifles as also popular cartoon and reel-life characters like Batman, Spiderman, Harry Porter and Jadoo and Krissh.

This apart, one also finds this year a wide range of cans of aerosol-based water sprayers and confetti. And some of the water cannons come with their own storage tanks that can be strapped to shoulders.

Magic liquid colours, also made in China, are in heavy demand. When thrown on clean clothes, the colour disappears after some time. And the musical water guns spray water over a range of 60-70 feet to the tune of Bollywood music.

“Chinese always come up with the latest and at affordable prizes. They come out with good stuff that fascinate the customers,” said Amrinder Singh at his stall at the Karol Bagh market.

“Indian pichkaris have also evolved with time. The traditional piston shaped pichkaris are still in demand but the Chinese ones certainly take the lead,” he added.

But the quality of material used for watercolours is questionable, prompting Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to make an appeal asking people to celebrate Holi with eco-friendly colours made from beetroot, berries, spinach, mint, onion and peels of pomegranate.

“Most of the artificial colours are made of synthetic chemicals with harmful elements like lead and cadmium. They are responsible for skin diseases, asthma and even cancer,” she said.

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