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Toy makers urge government to help promote indigenous products

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Kolkata: All it will take for Indian toy makers to capture a major pie of a Rs.13,000 crore ($2 billion) opportunity is a little push from the government by way of promoting indigenisation to replace the flood of imports largely from China, Taiwan and Italy, manufacturers say.

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The Toy Association of India (TAI), while pegging the country’s market at Rs.13,000 crore during 2015-16, has, however, painted a grim picture as far as Indian manufacturing is concerned.

“Currently, only about 20 percent of the market is served by Indian manufacturers and the rest by import of toys from different countries, mainly from China and Italy,” TAI vice president Pawan Gupta, implying that Indian firms, in the current scenario, will be able to harvest only Rs.2,600 crore from the gigantic pie.

According to TAI, India’s overall toy imports increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.21 percent between 2001 and 2012 while imports from China and Italy surged at a CAGR of 30 percent and 38.6 per cent respectively during this period.

The Indian manufacturers’ base in the segment comprises mostly of some 4,000 micro-medium firms. Seventy-five percent of these are in the unorganized sector, thereby limiting their scope to upscale production or compete with global brands.

“Competitive countries like China have humongous manufacturing capacities and they flood the markets with their products,” he said.

Lack of adequate finance and distinct clusters for toy manufacturing and low level of product conceptualization and design have been cited as the primary impediments for the industry.

Additionally, hurdles in procurement of critical raw materials have been highlighted as plaguing the Indian small-scale toy makers.

Gupta said the government needs to design simpler procedures for indigenous toy makers to raise capital.

“The success of SMEs in the toy industry can grow manifold if they start working in self-sufficient clusters in certain regions”, he said.

Reputed toy maker Funskool echoed the need for a change in the government’s outlook to boost the industry.

“For toy makers to produce in India and join the Make in India campaign, fundamental changes in the way the government looks at the toy industry is needed”, Funskool (India) CEO John Baby.

The company highlighted installation of proper infrastructure support like R&D, tool-making facilities and testing labs, among others, to enable the growth of indigenous toy manufacturing.

While the sector at present employs around three million people at various skill levels, Baby said the present labor laws do not support the industry to undertake high volume one-run production.

The industry further highlighted the health hazards children may be exposed to when the quality of the materials in the toys are compromised for pricing.

“The cheaper imports of toys, especially from markets like China are available in the market at a lesser price, but their quality is a matter of concern,” Gupta said.

Further, while many global brands are in the process of making their India entry, which will give rise to further innovation and boost the economy, an existing problem has been that most imported toys don’t cater to the needs of Indian children.

“Domestic manufacture also ensures that the Indian buyers get quality and safe toys for their children at affordable prices”, the Funskool official said.

But cheaper imports from the land of the Hans and Tangs alone cannot be blamed for endangering the health of children.

Among the local manufacturers in India, about 59 percent are still focusing on the production of cheap and unbranded toys, thereby compromising on quality.

“In the future it is expected that these companies will shift towards branded toys as well to stay competitive with international companies,” TAI’s Gupta said.

“The coming times are really bright for the toy industry”, Mayank Aggarwal, director of Playwell Implex, a toy distribution company.

He said the industry may touch the Rs.13,000 crore mark by the end of 2015 on account of increasing consumerism and spends from a rapidly expanding middle-class that could comprise over 200 million people by 2020.”The market size is increasing by at least 20 to 25 percent”, Aggarwal.
India’s toy industry caters to an estimated 304.8 million children in the 0-12 age group years and 50 million babies in the 0-2 age group.

(IANS)

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Adultery Law Gets Scrapped: Another Progressive Step In India

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges. 

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A gardener works on the lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, Aug. 22, 2017. India's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has presided over a string of verdicts in recent weeks that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities as he prepares to retire from the bench next month. VOA

The chief justice of  Supreme Court of India has presided over a string of recent rulings that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities, challenging deeply conservative Indian society before he retires next month.

In the latest decision Thursday, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the rest of the five-member court struck down a 158-year-old law that treated adultery in certain cases as a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

The court called the law, which did not allow wives to prosecute adulterous husbands, unconstitutional and noted that a “husband is not the master of woman.” Adultery can still be grounds for divorce in India, the verdict said, but a criminal penalty violated women’s protection to equal rights under the law.

Accolades for ruling

The verdict was hailed by activists and left-of-center members of India’s Parliament.

“Excellent decision,” tweeted Sushmita Dev, a lawmaker and president of the opposition Congress party’s women’s wing. She said “a law that does not give women the right to sue her adulterer husband … is unequal treatment and militates against her status as an individual.”

India
Participants displays a rainbow flag and cheer as gay rights activists and their supporters march during a gay pride parade in New Delhi, India. VOA

Amnesty International India said the decision was “a progressive judgment” and the old law was a “remnant of a time when a woman was considered to be the property of her husband.”

The scrapped law allowed men to file charges against other men who had affairs with their wives. Women having affairs could not be prosecuted, but they also couldn’t file a complaint against cheating husbands.

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Gay couples, religious minorities

Earlier this month, the Misra-led court also struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was “a breach of the rights of privacy and dignity,” the court ruled. It added that “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.”

On Thursday, the court also decided not to reconsider a 1994 decision that would have delayed proceedings in a case over the ownership of the site of a mosque that Hindu hard-liners demolished in 1992.

India
Indian Muslim women talk while walking through a market in Ahmadabad, India. VOA

Fast pace for India

The court’s recent pace of decisions speaks to another feature of Misra’s tenure: expediting cases in a country where they routinely take decades to resolve.

There are 33 million court cases pending in India, government figures show.

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges.

Also Read: What Would Be The Outcome of The Judgement on Homosexuality with BJP at The Centre?

He joined India’s highest court in 2011. His 13-month tenure as chief justice has won him accolades from advocates of disadvantaged groups but drawn unprecedented criticism from other members of the bench.

In January, the four most senior justices held a news conference against Misra, who as chief justice controls the court’s roster and decides who will take which cases, listing a litany of problems that they said afflicted the court and risked undermining India’s democracy. Misra met with the dissenting judges, who continued on the bench. (VOA)