The Centre has extended the enforcement of compulsory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification for toys by four months to 1 January, offering a major relief to the toy industry.
The Toys (Quality Control) Order requires all toys and material for children below 14 years to be certified by the BIS—India’s national standards body. Absence of the certification can result in criminal liability, including imprisonment and huge fines.
The move is crucial, given the industry was in a bind as the government had refused to entertain requests for more time from toy manufacturers, importers and retailers to comply with the order, which came into effect on 1 September.
An order issued on Tuesday by the commerce and industry ministry said: “It shall come into force with effect from 1 January, 2021.”
In an emailed response to queries, a spokesperson for the commerce ministry said: “Yes. the quality control order implementation date has been extended to 1 January 21.”
The size of India’s toy market in 2020 is estimated at $38.1 billion by Statista, a German markets data portal.
“This is a welcome move. Though it should have been ideally extended by six months, the four-month extension is a huge relief to the industry, which was staring at criminal prosecution for being non-compliant or partly compliant. The aim should be to help and not hassle the industry and government has taken the right call,” said Abhixit Singh, partner at ASP Advocates, a New Delhi-based law firm.
During his monthly radio programme, Mann ki Baat, on 30 August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted India’s ability to become a “toy hub” of the world. India currently has a small share of the global toy industry worth over ₹7 trillion.
India has been tightening its economic partnership with China, following border clashes between armies of the two nations since June, which led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers. Imports of Chinese tyres and auto parts have been restricted, while hundreds of Chinese apps, including PUBG, TikTok, and UC Browser, have been barred by the Indian government, citing national security concerns.
BIS, which works under the consumer affairs, food and public distribution ministry, has been turning the screws on the certification of Chinese products. A case in point being delays in certification and testing approvals for imported solar equipment from China, Mint had reported earlier.
The All India Toys Federation (AITF) said in addition to the deadline extension, the industry body that represents scores of small and large toy manufacturers is also seeking that manufacturers be given the option to get their products screened for quality standards under the earlier processes wherein they can use BIS-accredited laboratories to test product samples.