Tuesday, December 6, 2022
HomeOpinionPoVIndia's sex toys industry is fulfilling the desire to become 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'

India’s sex toys industry is fulfilling the desire to become ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

‘Made in India’ sex toys pose a dilemma for India’s Right-wing, should we be sankaari or ‘aatmanirbhar’?

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide lockdown, workers’ exodus, and a spiralling economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to brand the current multi-pronged crisis as an opportunity. A chance to become ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Taking the rallying call for a self-reliant India quite literally, India’s adult toys industry has chosen to truly go ‘vocal for local’ by announcing a new line of ‘Made in India’ sex toys. Raj Armani’s IMBesharam will launch male and female masturbators, cheekily named ‘Samaaj’ and ‘Sanskaar’ respectively (the founder says “f*** Samaaj and f*** Sanskaar”), by December this year.

How might the Right-wing and conservatives react to this news about an Indian entrepreneur, who is technically only following PM Modi’s wishes? Given the Catch-22 situation they are caught in, their reaction will be worthy of a soap opera.

Thatspersonal, IMBesharam, Lovetreats, ItspleaZure, Shycart, Privy Pleasures and Kinkpin are leading players in the Indian sex toy industry. However, most of India’s sex toys are imported — a major chunk of which are manufactured in China, which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of all sex toys manufactured in the world, according to a Mint report.

India’s conservative ‘uncles’ — let’s name him Sharma ji — must really be in a knot. Should we start making our own sex toys because owning anything fractionally Chinese in today’s political atmosphere is as dangerous as having beef in your fridge? Or should we live in denial about the burgeoning size of India’s sex toy industry — the Covid-19 lockdown was no deterrent, inquiries for these products were at an all-time high during this time.

Also read: ‘My next phone will be made in India’: Some IAS officers call for boycott of Chinese goods

India’s not-so-new sex toy industry

India’s sexual wellness industry was estimated to grow to Rs 8,700 crore by 2020. In 2018, its market size stood at $227.8 million as compared to the global $22 billion.

What a reality check this might be for those who thought they had successfully kept the country’s samaaj safe and ‘pure’.

However, the industry suffers from a dearth of funding despite “dynamics such as 100 percent year-on-year growth and operating margins of over 35 percent”, according to a YourStory report. The industry can be highly lucrative, but will India ever reach a point where sex toys are not seen as the devil reincarnate?

India is the land of Kamasutra and it shows — its population is growing faster than that of China’s. From the outside, we may appear to be a society that puts conservative values and notions of purity on a pedestal, but once the doors closed and the lights go off, it’s a whole different ball game.

One would generally expect the big metropolitan cities of India to be the ones with the majority share of interest in sex toys. But here’s a shock for Sharma ji — the break-up of the business of one such venture, ThatsPersonal, stands at 48 per cent for tier-I cities, 40 per cent for tier-II cities and 12 per cent for tier-III cities.

Similarly, Armani’s venture has seen 37 per cent orders come from non-metros/tier-I cities, accounting for 46 per cent of their revenues. That’s not all, orders from tier II and tier III cities generally have a higher ticket size — “amount of money that each buyer spends per [site] visit” — according to India Today.

Also read: Young Indian men are in the grip of a new epidemic. It’s called Viagra

Who is buying sex toys?

Initially, the market was heavily dominated by male customers — Divya Chauhan’s ItspleaZure recorded men accounting for 75 per cent of the traffic and almost 85-90 per cent of the transactions, but tides are changing. An increase in demand from women is making the ratio slowly inch towards 50:50. Another interesting fact is that many men are buying sex toys for women. While that is not the case in tier I and tier II cities, it holds true for tier III and IV cities — customers of these cities have cart sizes three times bigger than those in big cities.

But cultural taboos and hesitant investors are not the only problems India’s adult toy industry faces. Archaic laws, such as Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, which talk about obscenity are still in place and pose yet another hurdle. While it is not entirely illegal to sell adult toys in India, it’s all about wordplay.

“Some of our new products are disguised as general FMCG goods so they don’t invite curiosity or suspicion”, said Armani.

While IMBesharam sells a variety of adult toys ranging from butt plugs, dildos and vibrators, they have strategically chosen to describe themselves as a “one stop shop for Indians & NRI’s across the world to browse, shop & experience a bold & beautiful lifestyle.”

Despite the countless legal and logistical obstacles the industry may face, the response and demand of Indians speak volumes. The Samaaj and Sanskaar tag may stir up a storm, with their direct dig at those who believe being open about sex is not ‘Indian’, but come Navratri and wedding season, these sites are surely set to crash. And there’s nothing Sharma ji can do about it.

Views are personal.

Also read: Durex sex survey: Is the land of Kamasutra not adventurous enough?


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  5. Why are right wingers going to be against sex toys? Everyone masturbates regardless of their political alignment or if they are religious or not.

  6. Whether it’s Sharma, Khan, D’Souza, Deol, Levi all ‘conservative’ Indian uncles will be the first to buy these toys. Looks like the author hasn’t experienced Indian hypocrisy and lives in cloud cuckoo land. Don’t forget it was under the present government that India’s laws criminalising LBGTQ was repealed.

  7. Is everything about the PM ? Is everything attached to religion ? Grow up trolls, have a life

  8. “The print” Should be banned in India. Article headline itself is showing there agenda. Jis thaali me khaate ho usme hi ched karte ho. Shame on you.

  9. Well the author can clarify about its efficacy so that the Indian consumer can make an informed decision. Or if he wants to make a point, he may well be advised to use better examples. Things done and said during an orgasm rarely make sense.

  10. Next time when you need give a name to India’s conservative uncle use KARIM or ABDUL Chacha.😏

    Let’s see your guts.

    • Why you are touchy about names. In Bollywood movies most of the time the bar dancers name used to be Christian.., did you object then? Anyway the name used here from majority community and ot is normal..

  11. The only objective of this article is to demean and belittle what the PM is trying to achieve for India.
    This is now expected from The Print, which is a mouthpiece for China, Pakistan, Islamic extremists and Congress.

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