Talking to all of you, it appears that there is huge potential hidden in the toy industry of our country. Enhancing this strength and its identity is a major part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. It is a matter of joy for all of us that today we are becoming part of the country's first toy fair. Joining me in this toy fair event, all my colleagues in the cabinet, all representatives of the toy industry, all artisan brothers and sisters, parents, teachers and dear children!
This inaugural toy fair is not just a business or economic program. It is a link to strengthen the country's centuries-old culture of sports and gaiety. I am told that more than 1,000 exhibitors from 30 states and union territories, including artisans, schools and multinational companies, are participating in the exhibition. It's going to be a platform for all of you where you'll also discuss designs, innovations, technologies of toys to marketing and packaging, and share your experiences. At the Toy Fair 2021, you will have the opportunity to know about the ecosystem of the online gaming industry and e-sport industry in India. I also liked to see that there are a lot of activities for children here. I extend my heartiest congratulations to all colleagues who have played their part in this toy fair.
India's creative relationship with toys is as old as the history of this country. The whole world has done research on the toys of the Indus Valley, Mohenjo-daro and Harappan civilizations. In ancient times, when the travellers from the world came to India, they learnt sports in India and also took games with them. Chess, which is so popular in the world today, was first played in India as 'Chaturang’ or ‘Chaturanga '. The modern ludo was then played as ‘Pachisi’. In our scriptures also, there is a mention of so many toys for Bal Rama. In Gokul, Gopal Krishna used to play with his friends outside the house with a ball. Games, toys and crafts have also been engraved in our ancient temples. If you look at the temples, especially in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, different types of games and toys can still be seen on the walls.
In any culture, when sports and toys become part of the centres of faith, it means that the society deeply understands the science of sports. We had toys that contributed to the all-round development of children and developed their analytical mind. Even today, Indian toys are far simpler and cheaper than modern fancy toys and they are also associated with a social geographical environment.
Reuse and recycling, which have been the part of the Indian lifestyle, is reflected in our toys as well. Most Indian toys are natural and eco-friendly, the colors used in them are also natural and safe. Just now, we were talking to the people of Varanasi. Look at the wooden toys and dolls of Varanasi, the clay toys of Rajasthan, the doll of East Medinipur, Dingla and Dingli of the Kutch, Etikoppaka Bommalu toys of Andhra Pradesh and the wooden toys of Budhni. There are Channapatna toys in Karnataka which we saw here, the Nirmal toys of Telangana, the wooden toys of Chitrakoot, the terracotta toys of Dhubri-Assam, all these toys are diverse, but have so many different features. But there is a similarity that all toys are eco-friendly and creative. These toys also connect the young mind of the country with our history and culture, and also help in social psychic development.
Therefore, today I would also like to appeal to the toy manufacturers of the country to make toys that are better for both ecology and psychology. Can we try to use the minimum possible plastic in toys? Use things that can be recycled. Friends, today, Indian perspectives and Indian ideas are being talked about in every sphere in the world. India also has a unique perspective to give to the world. These diversities are seen as a force in our traditions, garments, and food habits. Similarly, the Indian toy industry can also encourage this unique Indian perspective. We have been keeping and preserving toys as a legacy of generations. Grandma's toys were given to the third-fourth generation of the family. During festivals, families used to take out their toys and show their traditional collections to each other. When our toys are adorned with these Indian aesthetics, the spirit of Indianness will also develop more strongly in the children. It will have the smell of this soil.
Dear children and friends,
Gurudev Tagore has written in one of his poems: “When I bring to you colored toys, my child, I understand why there is such a play of colors on clouds, on water, and why flowers are painted in tints when I give colored toys to you, my child.” That is, a toy takes children to the infinite world of happiness. Each color of the toy sprinkles a number of colors in the lives of children. The feeling that the children are experiencing today looking at so many toys here; we all have cherished our childhood memories. Toys like paper airplanes, spinning tops, marbles, kites, whistles, swings, paper-revolving fans, dolls, etc have been companions of every childhood. We used to learn many principles of science, such as rotation, oscillation, pressure, friction, etc. while playing toys or making them. The best part of Indian sports and toys has been that it has knowledge, science, entertainment and psychology. Take for example, the spinning top. When children learn to play with the top, it teaches them the lessons of gravity and balance. Likewise, the child who plays with the catapult learns the basics of potential to kinetic energy inadvertently. Puzzle toys develop strategic thinking and problem solving reasoning. Similarly, newborn children also start to feel the circular movement when rattles and instruments are swung in different directions. When the same things are taught in their classroom and books, they are able to relate them to their games and understand their practical aspects. Only bookish knowledge cannot develop these understandings.
You must have seen how creative toys develop children's senses and give wings to their fantasies. How children create a whole world of their own imaginations around their toys. For example, you give a child utensil toys, he will start behaving as if he is taking care of the entire kitchen and is going to feed the family. Give him animal toys, he will create a whole forest in his mind and start making sounds of his choice. He finds that it is a lion and would start roaring. Give him a stethoscope and you will see him becoming a doctor in no time and will start examining the whole family. With just one ball, they make the entire football ground inside the house. They venture into a space mission the moment they have a rocket toy. There is no boundary, no end to the flight of their dreams. They just need a small toy that arouses their curiosity and creativity.
The beauty of the good toys is that they are ageless and timeless. When you start playing with children, you slip into your childhood through these toys. Therefore, I would appeal to all parents to join their games just as you are involved in the studies of your children. I am not saying that you should leave all your home and office work and keep playing with the children for hours. But you can be involved in their games. Nowadays, screen time has replaced playtime in households. But you must understand the role of sports and toys. Parents should also understand the scientific aspect of toys, the role of toys in the development of children, their learning, and teachers should also use them in schools. The country is now taking effective steps in this direction and making necessary changes in the system. An example of this is our new National Education Policy. The new National Education Policy covers play-based and activity-based education in a big way. It is an education system in which special attention has been given on the growth of logical and creative thinking among the children through riddles and sports.
In the sphere of toys, India also has tradition and technology, India also has concepts and competence. We can take the world back to eco-friendly toys. Our software engineers can convey the stories of India, which are the fundamental values of India, through computer games to the world.
But despite all this, our share in the $100 billion global toy market is very low today. 85 per cent of the toys in the country come from outside and are sourced from abroad. The neglect of Indian artisans and the heritage in the last seven decades has led to the flooding of foreign toys from Indian markets to families and it is not just a toy, an idea has entered our house.
Indian children started talking about the heroes of other countries, more than our brave hearts and heroes. This flood from outside has also devastated a strong chain of our local business. Artisans have begun to avoid passing on their skills to their next generation, thinking that their sons should not come into this business. Today, we have to work together to change this situation. We also have to make the country self-reliant in sports and toys and make them vocal for local. For this, we have to understand the needs of today. We have to know the world's market and priorities.
Our toys should also have our values, culture and teachings for children, and their quality should also be in accordance with international standards. The country has taken several important decisions in this direction. The quality test of toys has been made mandatory since last year. Sample testing has also been allowed in every consignment of imported toys. Earlier, governments did not even consider it necessary to talk about toys. It was not considered a serious matter. But now the country has given status to the toy industry in 24 major sectors. A National Toy Action Plan has also been prepared. It covers 15 ministries and departments so that these industries become competitive, the country becomes self-reliant in toys and India's toys are exported to the world as well. Efforts are being made to develop toy clusters by making states equal partners in this entire campaign.
At the same time, the country is also strengthening the possibilities of toy tourism. Toycathon-2021 was also organized in the country to promote toys based on Indian sports. I am told that more than 12 lakh youngsters, teachers and experts registered in this Toycathon and more than 7,000 new ideas came up. It shows that despite decades of neglect and hardships, India's talent and skills are still full of extraordinary possibilities. Just as India had painted its energy in the life of humanity with its gaiety in the past, the same energy is equally vibrant today.
On the occasion of the toy fair today, we all have the responsibility to give this energy a modern avatar to realise these possibilities. And yes! Remember, if there is a demand for Made in India today, the demand of Handmade in India is also increasing today. Today, people don’t want to see toys just as a product, but want to connect with the experience associated with that toy. Therefore, we have to promote Handmade in India also. We also have to remember that when we make a toy, we cast a child's mind, the immense joy of childhood and dreams in it. This gaiety will build our future.
I am happy that today our country understands this responsibility. Our efforts will give the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign the same invigoration that creates a new world in childhood. With this belief, many best wishes to all of you. It is our responsibility and we have to make continuous efforts to take our Indian toys to the world with a new approach, science and technology. I am sure that this toy fair will prove to be a very strong step to take us in that direction. Once again, I extend many good wishes to you.