India to enforce compulsory BIS toy’ certification from 1 January2 min read . Updated: 16 Sep 2020, 10:43 AM IST
- Absence of such certification entails criminal liability, including imprisonment and substantial fines
NEW DELHI : In a huge relief to India’s toy industry, the Union government has extended the enforcement of compulsory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification for toys, which will now come into effect from 1 January, 2021.
This assumes significance given that India’s toy industry was in a bind with the government rejecting additional time sought by manufacturers, importers, and retailers for the enforcement of the Toys (Quality Control) Order, which came into effect on 1 September.
The order mandates that all toys and materials designed or intended for use in play by children below 14 years of age shall be certified by BIS. This is necessary to do business in the domestic market dominated by Chinese imports, given that the absence of such certification entails criminal liability, including imprisonment and substantial fines.
In a Tuesday order reviewed by Mint, Commerce and Industry ministry said, “It shall come into force with effect from 1st January, 2021."
The earlier February order was aimed at maintaining quality standards for toys to be used in the Indian market that is estimated at $38.1 billion by Statista, a German markets data portal.
A commerce ministry spokesperson in an emailed response said, “Yes. The QCO (Quality Control Order) implementation date has been extended to 1 Jan 21."
“This is a welcome move. Though it should have been ideally extended for 6 months, the 4 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.
The All India Toys Federation (AITF) said that the deadline extension aside, 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.
"We request the Commerce and Industries ministry, to think beyond simply extending the BIS window. Most of our toy manufacturers are small-scale producers who cannot afford to set up laboratories. We implore him to allow a Scheme II, where we will still adhere to the IS9873 standards, but have an easier process. Here, small manufacturers can get their samples tested and verified through BIS accredited laboratories," said Rehan Dhorajiwala, spokesperson, All India Toys Federation (AITF).
This comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme, talked about making 'toys for the world' and highlighted the ability of India to become a 'toy hub’. While the global toy industry is over ₹7 trillion, India's share is very small.
India has also restricted the import of tyres and other auto components from China, and barred hundreds of Chinese apps, including Bluehole’s PUBG, Bytedance’s TikTok, and Alibaba’s UC Browser, citing national security concerns.
BIS that works under the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution ministry has been turning the screws on certification of Chinese products. A case in point being delays in certification and testing approvals for imported solar equipment from China, Mint reported earlier.
This comes in the backdrop of fresh tensions with China, with 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers dead in a mid-June border clash in Ladakh.