The Indian Toy Story
“When I bring to you coloured toys, my child, I understand why there is such a play of colours on clouds, on water, and why flowers are painted in tints.”
– Rabindranath Tagore
Currently, there are over 450 products that fall under the scope of mandatory Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) certification, like CE marking in Europe . These consumer products include helmets, electric iron, cement, switches, domestic pressure cookers, tubes, LPG stoves and cylinders, packaged drinking water, electric immersion water heater, and toys. The government has made it mandatory for these products to comply with Indian standards for several reasons – protection of plant, animal, and human health, safety, protection of the environment, public interest, national security, and preventing unfair trade practices. Thus, it is compulsory that the manufacturers and importers of Toys obtain Bureau of Indian Standards (“BIS”) Certification. The post focuses on the issues surrounding the certification of Toys and regulatory matters. Current Play of Toy Industry
In 2022, the toy industry of India reached USD 1.5 Billion, and it is expected to reach USD 3 Billion by 2028, thereby growing at a rate of 12.2% during the five years. India’s increasing population, the rise in disposal incomes, and the country’s steady economic growth are some of the critical factors catalyzing the increasing demand for toys. Additionally, the rising awareness among the population concerning the benefits of toys among children and their cognitive capabilities has positively influenced the demand for toys.
While India’s toy industry is proliferating, it is not nearly as big as China’s. However, with a recent Government initiative, Noida (in the State of Uttar Pradesh) is set to become India’s major toy manufacturing hub. Over 130 industrialists and companies, such as Fun Zoo Toys India, Bharat Plastics, Super Shoes, and Fun Ride Toys LLP, among others, have acquired land at Noida’s Toy Park to set up their factories. The Noida hub could potentially lead to a toy manufacturing industry bigger than China’s. Setting up a Toy Park aims to help reduce the manufacturing costs of Indian toys, ensuring good quality and durability, reducing imports from China and increasing export of toys to boost the economy.
Toys (Quality Control) Order, 2020
This QC Order makes it mandatory for toys targeted to children of 14 years or younger to conform to 7 Indian Standards for Safety of Toys (prescribing requirements for physical, chemical, and electrical safety of toys) and bear the ISI Mark under a license from BIS. This QC order has come into force from January 1, 2021. Accordingly, no person is permitted to manufacture, import, sell or distribute, store, hire, lease, or exhibit for sale toys that do not conform to the Indian Standard and do not bear the “ISI” Mark under a license from BIS. DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, primarily issued this order to avoid low-quality toys from being sold in India as they were being indiscriminately imported into India, leading to several consumer complaints about their quality.
Domestic and foreign manufacturers intending to apply for a BIS license can do so following the process on the BIS website www.bis.gov.in. There are two categories that toys have been classified into for BIS certification
Manufacturers must necessarily choose the applicable classification of toys during the process of license application for the toy manufactured by them and for which a license is being sought. They must submit separate applications if a license is required for non-electric toys as well as electric toys. Additionally, at the time of applying for a license, manufacturers must also state the type of toy to subject it to the applicable standard. The toys can fall under any of the following 7 Indian standards –
- Mechanical and Physical Properties
- Migration of Certain Elements
- Swings, Slides, and Similar Activity Toys for Indoor and Outdoor Family Domestic Use
- Requirements and Test Methods for Finger Paints
- Phthalates Esters in Toys and Children’s Products
- Electric Toys
Process of obtaining BIS Certification carries the following steps
Seizure of Toys for non-compliance of BIS certification
Recently the Bureau of Indian Standards seized over 18,600 toys from retailers in Delhi as they lacked the BIS certification, which was made mandatory as per The Toys (Quality Control) Order, 2020 (“Order”). As of September 1, 2020, the Quality Control order has been made mandatory for importers and manufacturers to comply, thereby meeting safety standards. Under section 17 of the BIS Act, 2016, any manufacturing, importing, distributing, selling, storing, or exhibiting of non-BIS certified toys can lead to up to 2 years of imprisonment or a fine of Rs. 2 lakhs.
During the raid conducted by the BIS, as per the news published in The English Daily of The Times of India, as many as 44 big retailers were targeted, which included well-established names such as Hamleys, Cocoart, Kids Zone, Archies, and WH Smith located in markets, airports, and malls. Even major e-commerce platforms such as Snapdeal, Flipkart, and Amazon were given notices by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), consumer protection regulator, for selling non-BIS-certified toys on their platforms.
What is surprising is that most of the big retailers sell imported toys, and as per the Toys QC order, the importer must also comply with the standards. Therefore, inspection at the airports and seaports needs to be robust to avoid this situation.
Regarding e-commerce platforms and their violation of BIS regulations, the Director General of BIS, Mr. Pramod Kumar Tiwari in an interview in The Times of India (a national daily), stated that the department is working towards implementing a mechanism to verify a seller’s BIS license on e-commerce platforms where sellers will be required to declare whether they have a BIS license and the same will be confirmed automatically. If the license is not found to be valid, the seller will not be able to continue selling on the platform. Additionally, the e-commerce platforms would mention whether the toy listed on their website is certified and to further inform the customers that they have the option to return a product lacking the mandatory BIS certification or carrying fake licenses or standard marks.
The toy industry in India has a lot of untapped potentials. It is projected that the sector is likely to grow to reach $2-3 bn by 2024. The Indian toy industry is currently 0.5% of the global size and has an enormous growth opportunity with a growing population. Further, the Indian government is creating clusters or special zones with tax and other incentives to ease and attract investment in this sector offering 100% foreign holding.