Indian toys, believed to have a history of 5,000 years, are a myriad of cultures, traditions and communities. Take, for example, wooden dolls and figurines of Kondapalli (Andhra Pradesh) that beautifully portrays characters from Indian mythologies and epics and also, rural life, animals and birds.
Indian toys serve not only as objects of entertainment, but also of learning. There has been a massive boom in entrepreneurial projects following the Government of India’s emphasis on toys and games as a compelling pedagogical tool under the New Education Policy 2020. For instance, a Hyderabad-based startup Kitki, launched by Pramod Ponnaluri and Rohini Deepthi Natti, promotes experimental learning during workshops and field visits. The games are designed for younger children to learn important mathematical and natural science concepts in interactive games, further honing their thinking ability.
Indian ‘toyconomy’ has a potential to grow from $ 1 Bn in 2019-20 to $ 2-3 Bn in 2024-25 on the back of growing population of children in the country. Pandemic-induced lockdowns have also increased the overall demand for domestic toys by 25 per cent as children remained isolated inside their homes.
Toy is one of the key focus sectors in which India wants to become self-reliant and reduce imports. To address this need, the government has been encouraging domestic toy manufacturing and exports through various initiatives. The Government has increased import duty on toys from 20 per cent to 60 per cent in February, 2023 and has also established a Quality Control Order, according to which, all toys and associated materials for children below 14 years of age will be certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
The Indian toy industry comprises more than 4,000 manufacturing units that includes 75 percent micro, 22 percent small and medium, and 3 percent large units. Under the Ministry of MSME’s Scheme of Funds for Re-generation of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), an outlay of INR 41.60 crores has been allocated to a total of 14 manufacturing clusters with the aim of benefitting 8,839 artisans by providing aid in terms of latest machines, design centers, raw material bank, and skill development programs. The Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textile, is also developing infrastructural support for the artisans of handmade toys in India.
Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan are predominant toys and games exporters, with a combined export of $ 238.75 Mn. State governments are taking focused steps towards the development of toy manufacturers in their respective toy clusters. In 2020, the Government of Uttar Pradesh approved 100 acres of land for the setting up of a toy manufacturing hub in Greater Noida.
Government schemes aimed at toy industry in the country have given an impetus to exports of Indian toys to more than 120 countries across the globe, including the USA, the UK, Germany, Mexico, and the Netherlands. In a public address on July 30, the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, emphasized how the echo of 'vocal for local' and Aatmanirbhar Bharat has been heard worldwide. The Hon’ble PM spoke of India’s toy industry success as one that “no one could have imagined”, with a surge in exports from INR 300-400 crores to INR 2,600 crores.
With support from the government and institutions like the National Institute of Design, India's toyconomy will continue to flourish.
This blog has been co-authored by Bhavya Tyagi and Khushi Jain.