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Allow us simpler playing field, toymakers plead to government

Mumbai, 17th September 2020: Indian toymakers have requested for simpler norms for a mandatory BIS certification for the industry. Even as they received a four-month hiatus for the compulsory certification, they’ve called the measure a temporary fix and not a long-term solution.

In a bid to bring the Indian toy industry up to safety standards the ministry of commerce and industries had mandated all toymakers to gain a BIS certification for their operations. However, on September 1, when the policy was due to roll out, only two toymakers had received the accreditation, while 81 others were underway. The ministry has deferred the ruling by about four months, giving toymakers time to conform to standards and get the necessary certification.

The All India Toys Federation (AITF), which represents all Indian toy manufacturers, sellers, wholesalers and retailers, has been raising a voice against the Scheme I standards mandated in these norms.

“We request the Commerce and Industries ministries to think beyond merely extending the BIS window. Most of our toy manufacturers are small-scale producers who cannot afford to set up laboratories. We implore them to allow a Scheme II, where we will still adhere to the IS9873 standards but have a more painless process”, said Rehan Dhorajiwala, spokesperson for AITF.

“There are two concerns here – the immediate deadline (which has been deferred) and the level of standards which toymakers need to comply to. We say that instead of Scheme I, let us go by Scheme II, which gives room to seek out external labs to test the quality of toys, rather than set up the infrastructure in-house”, added Gulshan Hasija, Joint Secretary of AITF.

“After the lockdown, the logistics nightmare, the lack of imports and barely-there workforce, I don’t have the money or workforce to set up an expensive in house lab to test my toys. I wish to Modiji can see my plight – I’m barely making ends meet here”, said Israr Ahmed, toymaker from New Delhi.

The toymaker body is championing Scheme II for BIS standards, which allows manufacturers to self-declare their compliance with relevant Indian standards. It offers the same quality control measures as Scheme I but does not require inspectors to travel to manufacturing units or create an in-house laboratory to check for quality standards. They can, instead, send these to an accredited lab elsewhere.

“Basics matter. Small manufacturers operate from smaller units, where building a lab would eat up production space. Hiring separate technicians, ensuring their training, maintaining records are all workforce add-ons. We have manufacturers who’re thinking of shutting down businesses right now – these costs will only push them out of business altogether”, added Dhorajiwala.

The association hopes that the court would help them raise their pleas to the government and help them achieve the necessary changes in the regulations. “We all want to be part of the ‘Vocal for Local’ story. However, we do need this helping hand to pull us through to that stage”, said Hasija.

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