Opinion

The battle of Barbie versus Chhota Bheem

Chhota Bheem, created by animation company Green Gold Animation, has often topped BARC ratings for kids' channel category.

Chhota Bheem pitted against Barbie may appear a ludicrous mismatch, but the battle lines have been drawn for India’s assertion in the global toy industry

Barbie doll was the cultural symbol of Pax Americana, the post-WW II US hegemony that universalized the American culture. With China’s rise as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, the symbol got subverted. The ‘Made in China’ label on a Barbie doll spoke volumes of the shifting world order. Barbie was never manufactured in the US, in fact. But a Made-in-Japan or Made-in-Taiwan label won’t evoke the kind of emotional response a Made-in-China label does these days in the West, signifying the rise of China at the expense of the US.

Now with a growing Western distrust of China and India flexing its manufacturing muscles, the Made-in-China Barbie may have to contend—as it were—with Chhota Bheem. The hugely popular character, along with his closest friend Chutki, from a superhit animation TV series for kids, has become a figurehead for native toys—a desi Barbie, if you please.

Imported toys have begun to face some resistance in India. In a developing success story of Atmanirbhar Bharat, India’s import of toys has fallen dramatically. And the exports have shot up, in what can be seen as a promise of the Make-in-India project.

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