THE NEW NANO

India Today - - LEISURE - —Jabir Welby In­dia’s Tin Trea­sure range can be pur­chased at wel­byin­dia.com and ama­zon.in.

De­spite the shocks of a global re­ces­sion and the hand­brake turn of de­mon­eti­sa­tion, the In­dian car in­dus­try is do­ing well. The small car in­dus­try that is. As in re­ally, re­ally, tiny cars… At Welby in­dus­tries in Toy City NOIDA, the shop floor rings and whirs as an as­sem­bly line of work­ers as­sem­bles a wide range of diminu­tive mod­els, most of which will make their way to ex­port mar­kets. It’s not just cars of course— there are plenty of other ve­hi­cles in pro­duc­tion, from mo­tor­cy­cles and scoot­ers to steam trains and ships. Apart from the ‘pop pop’ boats, which are ar­guably pro­pelled by ‘in­ter­nal com­bus­tion,’ ev­ery­thing else here is driven by tried and tested clock­work en­gines and fric­tion wheel drives. This is a nos­tal­gia fac­tory af­ter all, and Paresh Chawla, the en­tre­pre­neur-tin­kerer-en­thu­si­ast be­hind the com­pany, is happy to ac­knowl­edge the in­spi­ra­tion drawn from his own col­lec­tion of vin­tage tin toys from all over the world and the legacy of now de­funct In­dian toy fac­to­ries from which he has ac­quired pre­cious dies and tool­ings—and, on oc­ca­sion, skilled work­ers. Tin toy man­u­fac­tur­ers flour­ished across the world for much of the 20th cen­tury and though In­dia came late to the party, it was also one of the last places where the in­dus­try thrived. By the 1990s as In­dian chil­dren fi­nally tired of the an­ti­quated lit­tle ma­chines, tin toys were al­ready be­ing re­trieved as col­lectible relics of re­mem­bered child­hoods else­where in the world. It’s a Toy Story, a Lil­liputian fa­ble but also a mi­cro­cosm of the real world: as with ev­ery­thing else the real com­pe­ti­tion is the leviathan next door. Then again, Chawla says Welby has re­ceived its first en­quiries from China…

Pho­to­graphs by BANDEEP SINGH

Note: the bus to the left and the car above are not part of the Tin Trea­sure range

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