I've seen toys sold in Channapatna bearing 'Made in China' labels. Practically every toy available in mainstream toy shops, even those that come free in 'Happy Meal' pouches, also share the same place of origin. But the Chota Bheem rip-offs, the Channapatna fakes? That goody-two-shoes cartoon character, so quick with his fists and so beloved of Indian boys (and girls), is the product of a desi animation house. And Channapatna lacquer is part of our heritage. Yet the Chinese are already there and happily exploiting an eager market.
Yes the Chinese are experts at faking it. How else do you think regular girls and women afford Louis Vuittons and Diors and Chanels? Not that I'm complaining. The big brands can certainly take some competition when it comes to fleecing people. If a woman who can afford to, spends lakhs on bags that appear undeniably ugly to me, well that's her affair. But when the Chinese start churning out too many of the fake branded stuff, the brands fight back. They get the local police to take action. And then we are presented with photos of piles of fake Guccis and LVs and Diors going up in smoke.
But who cares really if some Chinese maker is bringing out replicas of Channapatna toys? I do, very much. I care this deprives local artisans and businesses and entrepreneurs of their livelihood. So when I buy toys (except when the toys are part of McDonald's Happy Meal and little man wants only that and nothing else!!), I go to Sutradhar off CMH Road, Indiranagar, where you get toys, puzzles, books, other educational aids (including microscopes that you can assemble from scratch), beaded-necklace kits and so on--of utterly 'desi' origins. Windchimes on Hutchins Road also has very, very native brands, stuffed toys, and other little goodies, totally made in India. Another nice place to browse stuff is the 100 Ft Boutique (and restaurant), Indiranagar, where you get brands like Chumbak, Happily Unmarried, Haathi Chaap, Cutting Chai designs and Blue Bean shoes (I know Tanya Bhat, the stylist and shoe designer but no, I don't ask for a discount!)
It takes a little effort but supporting small and local businesses is worth it--for me, I mean. Because doing that means I'm giving the finger to the fakes.
Windchimes, 24, Hutchins Rd, Cooke Town,
100 Ft Boutique/Restaurant
777/1, 2nd Stage, Aashiana, 100 Feet Road, Indiranagar ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು, KA 560038