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‘Toycathon 2021’ to highlight India's toy industry opportunity

Indian toys

In a press conference late this evening, Union Minister for Textiles and Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani and Union Minister for Education, Dr. RP Nishank, jointly launched the ‘Toycathon-2021’ to enhance domestic toy manufacturing capacities in the country. 

Guided by the overarching goal of self-reliance and stronger domestic industrial base under the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ launched by the Prime Minister last year, the ‘Toycathon 2021’ invites innovative, dynamic solutions and participation from various stakeholders including startups, MSMEs, educational institutions and industry players, on ways to boost toy manufacturing in India. 

The broader aim of the 'Toycathon' is to "explore India's potential to build and sustain a creative ecosystem for the development of toys and games to celebrate Aatma Nirbhar Bharat'." This challenge is a unique effort by six different ministries and departments of the Indian government to crowdsource solutions to different problems faced by the toy industry and get suggestions for implementation. 

The domestic toy industry, it was highlighted, is a $1 bn industry, of which, India is currently importing 80% of its domestic demand from other countries. At the global level, the toy market is over a $100 bn industry, of which India's share is around $1.5 bn, growing at a rate of 15%. However, keeping the size and potential of the Indian market in mind, the government is ambitiously aiming to not only significantly reduce India's toy imports but also position the country as a major toy exporter globally to enable Indian toymakers to benefit from the lucrative, ever-growing global toy industry.

With this context in mind, the government is trying to revive the domestic toy manufacturing base with a special focus on region-specific toys, found in popular toy clusters across the country, which not only have their own regional identity but also support indigenous toymakers. 

For this Toycathon, the government has emphasised and encouraged innovative solutions and designs for toys for specially-abled kids, with a focus on environmental sustainability. As a result, participants are being urged to design and develop non-hazardous, eco-friendly toys, and even toys made of recycled/biodegradable materials. 

As highlighted in the press conference, there are two major categories in this edition of the Toycathon: 

  • Online toys (including mobile/web apps and games, electronic and IoT based games) 
  • Physical toys (including board/card games, puzzles, static as well as moving toys) 

The nine themes chosen for this year's Toycathon are: 

  • Indian culture, history, knowledge, ethos
  • Learning, education and schooling
  • Social and human values
  • Occupations and specific fields
  • Environment 
  • Divyang-friendly 
  • Fitness and sport
  • Out of box, creative and logical thinking
  • Rediscovering/redesigning traditional Indian toys

The challenge will take place under three major tracks of participants, namely:

  1. Track-1 (Junior level participants): For school students and teachers
  2. Track-2 (Senior level participants): For students and faculty of HEIs
  3. Track-3 (Startups and professionals): For toy-based startups and experts

With its launch today, the registration process for the Toycathon also began today. The challenge will conclude with a 3-day Grand Finale to be held from 23rd to 25th February 2021, where the shortlisted candidates will create working prototypes of their conceptualized toys.  

Aptly summing up the larger goal of this unique initiative, Minister Smriti Irani said, "We hope that this 'Toycathon' throws in new ideas that our toy industry can not only celebrate but also commercialise."