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Sansad TV: Perspective- India’s Toy Story

 

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Introduction:

The Make-in-India initiative has yielded positive results. The import of toys is down by 70% in the last three years. Exports have jumped by over 61% over the same period.

Steps taken:

  • The government took a number of steps which led to a reduction in imports and improvement in exports.
  • These measures stringent quality tests for imported toys increased customs duty and new licences for domestic manufacturers.
  • The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) ordered sample testing of each consignment and no permission for sale unless the quality testing was successful.
  • In case of failure, the consignment was either sent back or destroyed at the cost of the importer.
  • The government also issued Toys (Quality Control) Order, 2020 through which toys were brought under compulsory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification with effect from January 1, 2021.
  • As per the Quality Control Order (QCO), every toy shall conform to the requirements of relevant Indian Standard and bear the Standard Mark under a licence from BIS as per Scheme-I of BIS (Conformity Assessment) Regulations, 2018.
  • This QCO is applicable to both domestic manufacturers as well as foreign manufacturers who intend to export their toys to India.
  • BIS has granted 843 licenses to domestic manufacturers from safety of toys, out of these, 645 licenses have been granted for non-electric toys and 198 licenses granted for electric toys.
  • In addition to this, 6 licenses have been granted to international toy manufacturers.

Toys (Quality Control) Order:

  • This relates to the regulation of toys and/or materials for use in play by children under 14 years of age, or other products as notified by the Central Government.
  • The order has been issued by DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Several important provisions for toy safety:

  • Requirement for toys to conform to the latest version of a list of Indian Standards.
  • Requirement for toys to bear the Standard Mark under a licence from the Bureau as per Scheme-I of Schedule-II of Bureau of Indian Standards (Conformity Assessment) Regulations, 2018.
  • Directing the Bureau to be the certifying and enforcement authority.

Challenges faced:

  • According to industry experts, small manufacturers are unable to upgrade to machinery production as taxes levy on the equipment is high.
  • There has been an increase in the production of electronic and battery-operated toys in India, which were majorly imported before.
  • However, most small toy manufacturers lack the necessary equipment to produce electric toys and are hesitant to upgrade because the equipment carries a 34 % import duty.
  • Even though the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) has given toy producers over 800 licences, many of them have struggled to keep up with the regulatory changes and adhere to BIS standards.
  • This has been a problem for small-scale retailers who face a shortage of supply since they are unwilling to buy a lower-quality product and therefore only depend on the bigger companies producing and supplying quality products.
  • The industry is also afraid that the government may be bringing changes in the current taxes system, which has given them a competitive edge.
  • This fear arises as the Centre has done a flip flop in other sectors and India’s effort to reduce dependency on China took place largely because of a worsening border dispute.
  • In 2020, the Indian government increased customs duty from 20% to 60% combined with the BIS certification requirements.
  • This slowed the flow of low-quality imported toys, especially which came from neighbouring nation China, into the Indian market, benefiting the local toy manufacturers.
  • Plastic has also become expensive and the shorter supply with a higher demand has made the manufacturers increase their margins thereby, even increasing the wholesale price.” Polymer prices, according to industry estimates, in 2021, shot up by 40% to 100% depending on the grades.

Safety and Quality:

  • Safety and quality are fundamental concerns for parents who buy toys and other products related to children.
  • It is imperative that not only the industry, but government should also assume an active role in enabling its adoption by a larger section of the society.
  • The recent survey conducted by Quality Council of India shows that 67% of imported toys are not safe for the children.