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Think Before Selecting Toys For Your Kids

What is the most dangerous non-edible consumer product in Europe today? Look in your child's playroom. According to a 2007 European Commission report, the number of notifications for 'toys' were more than double that for 'motor vehicles' or 'electrical appliances'.

Toys can be risky because some of them contain toxic chemicals like lead and have unsafe design and bad finishing, like sharp edges. Most of these come from China - the largest global producer of toys.

In January, Newsweek reported China and India as the world's leading economies. However, both countries face compelling systemic problems when it comes to product quality.

China was also involved in a contaminated milk case. Around the same time, the US Food and Drug Administration decided to ban import of over 30 medicines produced by Ranbaxy India.

The reason: unsafe manufacturing conditions. How is it that Indian inespectors can never find any fault with such products? Perhaps we need to accept that emerging economies like China and India cannot adopt the standards of advanced economies overnight.

So, while Japan could refuse Chinese food imports and the US could reject drugs manufactured in India, what can India do about Chinese toy imports? Ban them? India did exactly that on January 23. But the six-month ban wilted under China's threat to drag India to the World Trade Organisation.

As a countermeasure, India has put in place international safeguards. Now toys entering India will require certification from accredited laboratories.

As a macroeconomic measure, this is fine. This will help China to conform to international standards.

However, this tactic is of limited strategic use. China's true competitive advantage lies in producing toys cheap (it has 70 per cent share of the global toy market).

India must consider microeconomic countermeasures, firm by firm. A positive engagement with Chinese toy manufacturers will be the most mutually beneficial.

Indian businessmen should start diversifying their toys suppliers within China. Competition among them will generate better quality.

Then, an association of Indian toy importers could take charge of the supply chain by forming joint ventures or starting toy factories in China. This way, India could help China grow and also ensure the health of our children.


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The Best Pet for Your Sign

With spring in bloom, it's a great time to get that special pet with whom to forge a unique bond. All astrological signs get along with most pets, but if you want to find the ideal pet that suits your sign the best, read on.

These bold and energetic ones of the Zodiac need a pet that can keep up with them through all their adrenaline-pumping activities. An Irish Terrier fits the bill perfectly. They are courageous and active dogs, affectionately referred to as "the daredevils of the dog world" by fanciers of the breed. Serving as messengers and sentinels during World War I, these dogs will fearlessly accompany an Aries on adventurous treks.

Aesthetically aware and highly tactile, Taureans will enjoy a pet that is cute and oh-so-cuddly. Pomeranian dogs are sure to delight. Their soft, fluffy coats need regular brushing and grooming, something a Taurus, who appreciates beautiful hair, will enjoy. Poms are highly intelligent, easily trained, and very friendly - all traits that will appeal to a sensible Taurus. Poms will get attached to their owners and may follow them everywhere, which suits steadfast Taurus.

What better companion for these chatty intellects than a pet with cognitive abilities that can chatter? An African Grey Parrot is sure to inspire the Gemini mind. These birds belong to one of the most intelligent parrot species and possess the ability to develop a large vocabulary and communicate efficiently with their owner. They become easily bored and thrive in a stimulating, interactive environment. Geminians will find no lack of intellectual stimulation with these clever birds.

Cancers feel their way through life and, for emotional gratification, prefer a small pet they can hold, caress, and care for. Hamsters are cute, clean, and a joy to take care of. Like a Cancer, a hamster is happiest in a comfy, spacious home. Hamsters eat a variety of foods, and Cancers will have no trouble feeding them from their well-stocked kitchen. A litter of baby hamsters will satisfy a Cancer's maternal and nurturing instincts.

A superb yet playful pet would melt the heart of a Leo because Leos are regal at heart and lovers of extravagant beauty. Siamese cats are sleek, lively, and entertaining, which allows them to capture the interest of a Leo easily. Ownership of a Siamese cat was restricted to the members of the royal family in ancient times, making the cats quite fitting for Leos today. Above all, they are loving cats who like to be at the center of attention. A Leo will never become bored with one of these magnificent pets.

Virgos, who are very clean and often picky perfectionists, demand the best. The Bernese Mountain Dog satisfies all of a Virgo's high standards. These dogs are remarkably clean and are bred to be friendly and obedient servants. They are very easy to train and want to please as much as possible. This dog will gladly accompany a Virgo who donates time and services to a worthy cause and happily pitch in. Virgos will love working side-by-side with these diligent, loving dogs.

Charming and poised, Librans with their refined tastes are happiest surrounded by exquisite beauty and harmony. The Peach-faced Lovebirds would make a lovely addition to a Libran home. The name "Lovebird" stems from these parrots' strong, monogamous pair-bonding, which Libra will appreciate. They are very social birds and are sure to be a hit at the many parties thrown by a Libra. With lots of love and attention, Lovebirds can become cherished companions, often snuggling up to or preening their owners, thus keeping Libra enamored.

Intense and inquisitive, Scorpios are fascinated by the darker side of life and often prefer quiet companionship from a pet. Spiders are a pet sure to thrill. Since a spider is a relatively low-maintenance pet, a Scorpio owner can spend hours enthralled watching the interesting existence of a spider. Spiders require little to no socialization, which suits typically introverted Scorpio just fine. A sensual spider housed in a stimulating terrarium will provide a striking scene in a Scorpio's life.

Sagittarians are warm, enthusiastic, and vigorous, and they are looking for similar traits in a large, noble pet. Great Danes hit the mark with flying colors. The Great Dane's substantial and imposing appearance belies its friendly nature, and the dog is often referred to as a gentle giant. As pets, they are full of energy and need regular walking, which fits in well with the sporty lifestyle of Sagittarius. Robust, alert, and agile, a Great Dane will keep a Sagittarius owner active and in high spirits.

Ambitious and practical, Capricorns thrive with a pet that is a disciplined over-achiever. The German Shepherd's strength, intelligence, and obedience will allow it easily to meet Capricorn's goals. With a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose, the German Shepherd will flourish in the training of Capricorn's firm hand. Self-assuredness and loyalty are traits that will solidify its stature in a Capricorn's life.

With a unconventional, cool, and detached nature, Aquarians want a pet that is unique and not too demanding. Iguanas are right up their alley. They're stunning to view, show distinct personalities, eat greens (which are generally easier to provide than live food), and are very popular. A well-handled iguana is friendly and can keep itself amused for hours with plenty of sun and areas to climb. An iguana and an Aquarius will be best mates for years to come.

Pisceans are often looking to escape the daily grind of life with a magical and captivating experience. Tropical, colorful fish in a scenic aquarium are the pets to provide Pisces with such an encounter. Tropical fish come in an assortment of bizarre shapes and colors that are sure to enchant the treasured space of a Pisces. The bubbling water, luminous colors, and swimming fish all combine to give a Pisces a wonderful getaway within the home.


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