On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for making India a manufacturing hub of toy production and said “it is the time to get vocal for local toys.” During his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ interaction, the Indian Prime Minister referred to Etikoppaka toys, which are made by artisans of the village with the same name in Visakhapatnam district.
Hailing the efforts of Mr CV Raju, who has been pushing the envelope to put the Etikoppaka toys in the international arena, the Indian Prime Minister called on tech-savvy youngsters, in his ‘Mann ki baat’ address, to make computer games in India and make games based on India. Mr CV Raju is an agricultural graduate and member of the Etikoppaka village craftspersons community who took up the dying art of making lacquer toys to preserve it for future generations. Due to his efforts, nearly 200 families have taken up the profession until now.
In an exclusive chat with Yo! Vizag, Mr Raju thanked the Prime Minister on behalf of all the artisans of Etikoppaka. Taking the interaction further, he sheds light on the legacy of Etikoppaka toys. Having originally started in Nakkapalli Village, it is known to have moved to Etikoppaka, thereby gaining the name from the village itself. Sourcing medium softwood of Ankudu (Wrightea Tinctoria) from the local forests, artisans initially took up the craft with a functional purpose of making vessels for measurement. They slowly began applying coloured lac and created more unique designs. While hand-operated lathes made the process cumbersome, the Kamala Devi awardee says that the introduction of mechanical lathes, led to innovations in design and ease in operating and learning as well.
With passing time, the craftspersons altered the product portfolio according to the market requirements. Sharing that the range of products – utilitarian, decorative, and jewellery, made by the artisans, the veteran toy-maker points out that Etikoppaka is blessed with natural resources, wherein all the colours are made out of natural dyes from the surrounding forests. “Previously, the range of colours was limited. Now with experimentation, the colour palette has extended. With this new innovation, we hope it satisfies the American and European regulations, opening doors to international exports,” Mr Raju adds.
The National Awardee (For the revival of natural dyes) also proposed to set up an interpretation centre for imparting the age-old craft to future generations. He further mooted to establish an experimentation centre to diversify the application of natural dyes. Adding further, he says, “A workshop to use these colours on fabric, interior painting of houses, pottery, and other applications should be studied to expand the horizon of the dyes.” When asked how he foresees the future of Etikoppaka, Mr Raju concludes, “The craft will sustain for years to come. Once we set up the incubation centre in this pocket, there is a lot of scope for development as youth joins in with new ideas and innovation.”