CHANDIGARH: India’s hostile neighbour Pakistan is scoring tons across the border off the field. Batting for cricket-crazy India, Pakistan is exporting bats to this country from Sialkot, especially to Jalandhar in Punjab, where local traders put Indian stickers and ‘made in India’ tags on them.
Jalandhar-based sports goods manufacturers, which were known for their sports equipment,were unable to compete with imports from Pakistan, China, Japan and Taiwan. Many of them shut shop and moved into trading.
Now they import cricket bats and hockey sticks from Pakistan; baseball, volleyball and tennis balls from China; badminton equipment from Japan and gloves and other sports gear from Taiwan.
Around 400 sports goods units in Jalandhar do business of Rs 1,200 crore per year by importing sports goods and putting their own labels on them. Around 150 containers of sports equipment are delivered to Jalandhar traders every month from abroad.
English willowbats are popular for their quality and durability, followed by Kashmir willow bats,for which wood is sourced from the Kashmir Valley. “English willow cricket bats come from Pakistan, besides hockey sticks (composite sticks).The Sachin Malik brand of hockey sticks from Pakistan are sold in India for `1,000-12,000. Soft leather goods like gloves (cricket, boxing and weight lifting), footballs and cricket balls come from across the border,’’ said VipinPreenja owner of Marhsal Exports.
“A Pakistani English willow bat costs Rs 2,000 - Rs10,000, and is a consignment is delivered in just 10 days. In India, the same order from another country can take up to two years.’
However, sports equipment can only be imported from Pakistan, and not exported to it. Preenja imports cricket bats and hockey sticks from Pakistan worth `50 lakh per year. Bats made in Sialkot are of excellent quality.
One of the major factors behind the deterioration of this industry in Jalandhar is the unhealthy tax system.
Ravinder Dhir, owner of sports good manufacturer Dixon Group, says,
“Jalandhar was once the hub of sports good manufacturing. Most manufacturers have now shifted to retail and wholesale business of sports goods due to the policies of the Central and state governments. We protested against GST for four months as it ruined our business.
We had to stop manufacturing and start trading a few years ago due to bad polices of state government.With GST, we have to stop trading and shut our business.”