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National toy fair, toy labs, Indian-themed toys in the offing

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New Delhi: Children could soon have access to toy labs, a national toy fair and innovative Indian-themed toys as the government chalks out a plan to promote traditional toys produced in the country. India will begin enforcing quality control for imported toys from September 1 to ensure that only products conforming to standards enter the country.

Imports from China and Taiwan account for around 90% of the domestic toy market. Besides, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has reached out to large manufacturers and is proposing to hold a round table with them as it seeks investment in the country’s $1.75 billion toy industry.

“We are aggressively pursuing the toy industry and are keen on foreign investment in the sector,” said an official, adding that the government is unlikely to defer the implementation of the quality control order as it is put in place to reduce cheap and substandard imports. Toy traders had sought an extension of the deadline. As part of the order, there could be BIS checks on existing inventory in warehouses while retailers may continue to sell the existing inventory. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday emphasised on toy manufacturing in the country under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative.

In his radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ on Sunday, he called upon startup entrepreneurs to “team up for toys”, saying it was time to get vocal for local toys. A plan to establish networks of toy labs like Atal Tinkering Lab is also in the works that would provide support for physical toys for children to learn, play and innovate besides a specialised quality toy marking for quality certification and original design.

The government is also deliberating forming producers’ companies for all the clusters and link all the clusters and artisans with them. As per another official, India has invited top global toy makers to invest in India and a round table with major manufacturers is being planned as part of which ways to introduce Indian-themed toys would be discussed. Karnataka has announced a Rs 5,000-crore toy cluster in Koppal.

The push to local manufacturing is significant as the toy industry in India is primarily in the unorganised sector, comprising around 4,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Dolls and playing cards to videogame consoles and board games are all considered toys. A study by the Quality Council of India (QCI) had revealed that 67% of imported toys failed a testing survey, which prompted an aggressive push to produce safe toys in the country.

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