After having been swamped by a virtual Chinese invasion, Indian toy makers are beginning to fight back to regain the domestic market they lost to the dragon kingdom. And this year's Holi turned out to be the first battleground.The battle has just begun, industry leaders say, adding it would take up to three years to overcome the Chinese challenge that at one time led to panic and closures of Indian factories.For the first time in years, Indian manufacturers regained their market share of pichkaris, or water guns, before Holi with better products and pricing. " It will take another two to three years to compete effectively," V.S. Agarwal, former president of Toy Association of India and a major distributor, told IANS.Under a $2.2 million joint project by the National Programme of Development of Toy Industry, the ministry of small-scale industries, the Toy Association of India and the UN Industrial Development Organisation, there has been some improvement in the quality and design of product helping Indian industry to increase exports, said Agarwal.India's toy exports at around Rs.1.3 billion ($29.2 million) were, however, a far cry from the Chinese dominance globally. As Finance Minister P. Chidambaram remarked in his budget speech last month, every second toy and every third shoe sold globally is made in China."With conducive policies Indian manufacturers should be in a better position to recapture the market," said an industry source.Industry bigwigs are, meanwhile, gearing up to take on the challenge from imported products. They pointed out that even small toy manufacturers who had shut shop a couple of years ago were reviving their units to give competition to Chinese products to have a bigger share of the domestic market.
(source:Lola Nayar, Indo-Asian News Service,New Delhi, March 15)