Indian shuttles losing demand

India made shuttle cocks are losing demand due to their high cost and low quality.

updated: February 16, 2008 12:51 IST
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Chinese goods aren't just giving Indian electronic goods a run, they also seem to have an effect on some traditional Indian goods of the sporting kind.

Shuttlecocks made in India are no longer in demand because of the erratic quality. That is the reason why top-level players need the quality provided by the likes of Yonex who import all their shuttles from China.

The shuttle cock cottage industry in Uluberia, West Bengal, today is a far cry from the thriving enterprise it once was.

Then, Uluberia was the sole supplier for all of India's shuttle needs. But now, domestic demand has fallen, in fact halved, after China started mass-producing machine made shuttles that are cheaper and longer lasting.

Soumen Ghosh, an entrepreneur, says "The machine shuttles are mechanically strong they use stronger glue and that's why the players choose Yonex but the quality of our product is very good too."

A Chinese shuttle lasts for four to five games while Indian ones barely make it through two or three.
Another businessman, Nemei Maity says, "If we can get their materials we can improve our production we can enter in the competitive market."

But in reality this may be easier said than done.

Shuttle machines are not available in India. They costs several crores and can produce 80,000 shuttles daily. At Uluberia, 5000 workers can make just about 30,000 each day.

Worse, though Uluberia is making shuttles for 50 years, it has never been given import licenses.

Duck feather, the main raw material, is still being smuggled from Bangladesh. Cork is imported from Spain via Punjab and the Indian glue used is of an inferior quality.

Maity says the hand-made variety is more expensive since it is more laborious to make.

"Machine is less laborious hand made is more laborious so it turns out to more expensive. If we can get the glue from China our finishing is very good and we can be in the competitive market," Maity says.

Entrepreneurs are saying all what they need from the government is an increased and regular supply of feathers that comes from Bangladesh and better quality glue to survive in this globally competitive market.