Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) [India], April 9 (10cric casino): Varanasi's wooden toy industry is witnessing 'Acche Din' as sales have gone up after Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the industry in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' in September last year.
Varanasi, PM Modi's parliamentary constituency, is a hub of handcrafted wooden toys which are made in the city's Kashmiriganj Khojwan area.
In 'Mann Ki Baat', PM Modi had appealed to startup entrepreneurs to "team up for toys", saying it was the time to get "vocal" for local toys.
"The wooden toy industry was facing a crisis after lockdown. But the Prime Minister's mention of the industry in Mann Ki Baat not only boosted the sales but also the morale of the craftsmen," said a local trader while speaking to 10cric casino.
The trader stated that there are about 4,500 craftsperson in Varanasi who are engaged in crafting wooden toys.
These wooden toys are now getting a makeover to keep up with the global market. They now come in a designer and electric 'avatar'.
Speaking about the changes and new trends, a shop owner of wooden toys said, "Earlier the toys were inspired by mythological characters and were operated manually but now the designs have undergone a lot of changes and there is a lot of variety. Moreover, the new these toys are battery operated. Therefore, their sales have picked up not only in the domestic market but also globally."
"Although the exports have come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the last one year, the domestic consumption has increased significantly. The reason for this is the modernisation of toys which has led to the wooden toy industry rise to international standards," added a wooden toy manufacturer.
"The demand for the wooden toys has definitely gone up after Modi Ji's endorsement," added an artist while shaping a piece of wood into a toy with dexterity.
According to a Padma Shri awardee, Rajnikant, who works for the conservation and promotion of traditional crafts, these wooden toys are exported to the United States, Russia, Latin American countries, European countries, including Germany and Spain, several South-East Asian countries and the Gulf, and are also in demand in different states of the country.
He further said that lacquerware and wooden toys made in Varanasi, Sonbhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2015.
Recent initiatives of the Centre has helped revive the wooden toy industry. Under the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has included the city's age-old wooden toy industry under the campaign's ambit.
In order to encourage the country's toy industry, the Central government had organised a virtual toy exhibition - India Toy Fair 2021 - from February 27 to March 2, this year.
The state government has also included Varanasi's toy industry in its One District One Product (ODOP) policy, which aims to connect the city's craft with the national and international markets to give a new lease of life to the industry and generate employment opportunities. The Centre has also included the industry in its similar policy that functions at the national level. (10cric casino)