The Indian Toy Story

You might be a big supporter of the Make in India campaign launched by our very own Prime Minister of India but when it comes to purchasing toys for your kids, there are high chances that your kid’s choice will be a toy manufactured in China and you might not be able to refuse your kids. Right? 

Don’t worry things might change………..why? Let’s see

In 2020, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) made it mandatory for toy manufacturers in India to get a BIS certificate for most toys, including electric and non-electric, such as dolls and slides, i.e., it should carry an ISI mark. The mandatory for toy manufacturing came into effect from January last year to prevent sale of cheap quality goods in the market. There are different Indian Standards stated, including safety aspects relating to mechanical and physical effects of toys like flammability, sharp edges and transfer of toxic elements. These standards are not for domestic manufacturers but for foreign players and importers who have to obtain BIS certification for their products. This was done with reference to global standards for toy manufacturing. 

One of the biggest foreign players involved in manufacturing and exporting toys in India was China but after the implementation of BIS certification norm and rise in basic customs duties on imported toys from 20 per cent to 60 per cent to protect domestic consumers has resulted in the imports of toys decline from $562.14 million in 2019-20 to $392.92 million in 2021-22. 

Chinese manufacturers had dominated the toy market globally and this is all because of the ease of business policy in that country i.e., govt. Support (subsidies), cheap labour etc. which results in cheap toy manufacturing and we all know that India is a price sensitive market, product-market fit the best for them. 

But the underlying norms were not only to protect the local manufacturers but the consumers as well because the cheap toys were affecting the health of the customers. Chinese toys sold in the Indian market were toxic i.e., they contained high levels of cadmium and lead  both elements that have been known to cause cancer. Cadmium is one of the heavy metals which has its primary on kidneys and they were also found to have phthalates. Phthalates are known to cause asthma, allergy, skeletal defects, and impair the lungs in human beings.

But ground reality is a bit different here, Indian toy manufacturers are specialised in manufacturing board games, plastic toys etc. and not in electronic toys which is not the case of chinese manufacturers. To cater to that demand, Indian small toy manufacturers don’t have manufacturing facilities and equipment to produce these toys i.e., overnight these facilities cannot be set up. 

So yeah, it seems on paper Make in India looks like a cake walk but actual reality seems to show altogether a different picture. What do you think?

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