The palette of Indian granite summons an ethereal world beyond: Blue Galaxy, Paradiso, Indian Aurora and Himalayan Black are just a few of the hues on offer from this mineral-rich nation.
Such colors have long been India's biggest selling point in the global gravestone business, or as insiders call it, the "monument and memorial industry." As bereaved Western consumers opted for diverse tombstones during the 1980s and 1990s, Indian manufacturers expected to earn an eternal place of pride in the graveyards of the US and Europe.
But Chinese competition has shattered these serene projections. Over the past six years, manufacturers in China have managed to import rough blocks of the coveted colored granite from India, craft the tombstones at home, ship them all over the world and still sell them at prices 10 to 30 percent below those of markers made in India. This increasingly successful Chinese strategy has left the Indians scrambling to boost productivity, hone customer ties and reclaim market share.