Life & Style

Other points of view: On the import duty hike on toys and Make in India

The EcoHive Villa designed by Suhasini Paul

The EcoHive Villa designed by Suhasini Paul   | Photo Credit: Suhasini Paul

While importers and parents dread the inevitable price hike, others wonder if the new import duty could be a stepping stone to something new

For toy design and manufacturing to improve in India, R&D is key. Institutions like the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad — which has a master’s programme in Toy & Game Design, the only one of its kind in India — are stepping up to meet the challenge. “Over the last year, we’ve been working with members of the All India Toy Manufacturers’ Association, on how we can contribute to their R&D for newer, innovative toys. Some are also investing in classroom projects,” says Shekhar Bhattacharjee (pictured above), the NID discipline lead. “Last year, Arihant Play sponsored a project, to create an inclusive playground for children with special needs [Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, ADHD]. The first one has been installed at the BM Institute of Mental Health, Ahmedabad, and was inaugurated two days ago.”

 

An increase in local production will also be good news for toy designers and engineers. Many of NID’s graduates are working with toy start-ups today or have begun their own ventures, like Play Panda. “We have a great heritage and strong culture of toys in India. Currently, we are not carrying forward that legacy,” says Suhasini Paul, a Delhi-based toy designer and NID graduate. “At the moment, I cater to companies in France, Germany, Italy, China and Thailand because Indian toy manufacturers don’t do R&D; they just want to copy. This [tax] could be a stepping stone.”

A puzzle by kids learning and educational toys brand, Shumee

A puzzle by kids learning and educational toys brand, Shumee   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

What the educators say

Pro: “A shift from plastic toys could be a positive thing. Children don’t need fancy toys; in a CBSE school that I work with, they explored play and innovation using only unstitched fabric! The results were brilliant. I think we need more open-ended toys that promote creativity and thinking,” says Mallika Ganapathy, a consultant educator and trustee of Chennai-based Mirra Charitable Trust.

Con: “Montessori schools depend on toys as learning materials, as do STEM programmes and maker spaces [Lego kits, robotics equipment, science experiment kits, etc). The worry is that, as imports decrease, Indian manufacturers will become complacent. Up until now, many of our toys [like the ones Montessori schools depend on] have been getting better in terms of quality, precisely because companies have had to compete with international brands. This hike, and the subsequent decrease in imports, could put paid to this,” says Maya Thiagarajan, an educator and author.

Other points of view: On the import duty hike on toys and Make in India

Parents’ take

“There are start-ups doing sustainable wooden toys, like Brainsmith and Bloon Toys, but their selection is quite limited. I buy a lot of Fisher-Price and Lego, and they will become very expensive now. So, I’ll be shopping for toys when I travel abroad or ask visiting friend and family to bring them,” says Rachita Agarwal, a young mum and toy blogger (@little.r.a.t.s)

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2020 4:43:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/other-points-of-view-on-the-import-duty-hike-on-toys-and-make-in-india/article31061470.ece

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