BENGALURU: China or Channa? There has been a chorus for the boycott of Chinese toys and reviving the Channapatna toy industry. The standoff with China has now come as a blessing in disguise for these toys. For, it offers a big chance for bringing back the glory of the Channapatna toy industry.
Channapatna, known as the toy town of Karnataka, was seen floundering with its markets flooded with cheaper ‘Made in China’ products and livelihoods threatened till recently. Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry president C R Janardhana said the positive aspect of this crisis could be the revival of the Channapatna toys at a global level.
“The Chief Minister has already called for the toy industry here to be upgraded by incorporating electronic and digital elements into it. They are eco-friendly too. It will take some time but Channapatna could emerge as a global toy supplier,” he said. But for Bengaluru’s toy industry, there seems to be little hope as of now. With 70 per cent of the much sought after modern toys imported from China, toy shops are surviving on whatever stocks have been imported in the past.
Three events this year created an unprecedented crisis for the industry. The supply disruption caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China, the increase of import duty by the Centre by 200% in February from 20% to 60% and the need to go in for double quality certification for imports to be implemented from September this year. The latest jolt for the industry is the strained relations between the two countries due to the military standoff and the subsequent campaign across the country to boycott Chinese brands. There are an estimated 700 to 800 small toy shops and 200 to 300 large shops in Bengaluru, according to the Karnataka Toys Association.
‘Biggest crisis we are facing’
Association president Mangalchand S Jain, a big name in the toy business in the country, said, “I own two toy shops in the city and have been running my business for the last 40 years and this is the biggest crisis we are facing.” “There is not a single electronic toy manufacturer in the country. We can use this crisis to set up our own modern manufacturing units. But it could take up to two years for it to begin operations,” he added.
Nilesh Gurnani, proprietor of Monopoly Marketing shop on Commercial Street and secretary of the association, said that 10 per cent of the toys being bought from other countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Denmark depended on China for their electronic components. “The 20 per cent toys produced in India are purchased by malls or departmental stores. They can replace them with other available products,” he felt.