Gifted a vuvuzela, Punjab man makes it his business!

October 8th, 2010 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Oct 8 (IANS) If you hear the sound of the vuvuzela, it might just be ‘Made in Punjab’! The monotone bugle and other high-selling sports merchandise is making its way from the state to the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi thanks to entrepreneur Manpreet Singh Walia.

The 32-year-old entrepreneur from Mohali town, 10 km from here, got the idea of selling vuvuzelas for the CWG after a friend brought him one as a souvenir from South Africa. The vuvuzela had, after all, made its presence felt at the FIFA World Cup there.

“It was then that the idea for having vuvuzelas for sporting events in India struck me. I have manufactured and provided nearly 10,000 vuvuzelas to companies selling CWG merchandise,” Manpreet told IANS here.

The vuvuzelas being made by Manpreet’s Hi-Tech Rubber Industries are being sold in the market for Rs.250 (less than $5) a piece and are made available in five colours - blue, green, red, yellow and white.

Nearly 20 million vuvuzelas were sold during the World Cup in June-July this year. Over 90 percent of these were manufactured in China.

But the Punjabi manufacturer says the vuvuzelas being made by his company are of better quality.

“We are using food grade plastic for our vuvuzelas even though this makes its cost a little higher. We are doing this because people have to blow the instrument with their mouth and it should be of good quality. The Chinese vuvuzelas available are of suspect quality,” Manpreet said.

While for the CWG the vuvuzelas made here have a sticker of CWG mascot Shera and another sticker of the 2010-CWG emblem, for other events the company puts up separate stickers. After the CWG is over, he intends to put the Indian flag on the vuvuzelas.

Vuvuzelas, originally made from bamboo by natives in South Africa, now come in plastic material. These are of two sizes - 63 cm long and 68 cm long.

Asked about some countries and sporting federations calling for a ban on vuvuzelas at sporting venues due to the noise they make, Manpreet says: “This World Cup will always be known for the vuvuzelas. These should not be banned.”

Manpreet, who has diversified into making sports and related merchandise from his family business of rubber and plastic parts for automobiles, says this industry has big scope.

“Thanks to the IPL (Indian Premier League) and Lalit Modi, the merchandise industry has become big in India. Various IPL teams now have scores of products that they sell - from key chains, caps, wristbands to T-shirts. The industry has grown so many times,” he pointed out.

In fact, Manpreet supplied over 60,000 wrist bands to the Reliance-owned Mumbai Indians IPL team and also to the Kings XI Punjab team of Ness Wadia and Priety Zinta.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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