“India needs to make it possible to provide quality goods at an affordable price.” This was stated by Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (IC) for Commerce and Industry at the 4th National Standards Conclave being organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India on May 1-2, 2017.
The Minister also launched the India Standards Portal – a one stop centre for all information on Standards, Technical Regulations, conformity assessment & accreditation practices, and the related bodies in India.
The Minister observed that while standards are important, they also need to be affordable. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the ‘Zero Effect, Zero Defect’ campaign earlier for this purpose.
The Minister stated that any national strategy for standards should be able to provide information regarding how varieties can be accommodated as this was also necessary for international negotiations. A lot of grey areas are used to stop imports from various countries using sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) requirements. Almost 150 such notifications are provided to the country every month. It is important to get this information to people in a time bound manner.
She highlighted the existence of variety in agriculture based products and how one size fits all homogeneity cannot be brought to this sector. The Minister stated that there was a problem of information dissemination as it is difficult to get information to farmers on time. While appreciative of the launch of the India Standards portal, she suggested that a feature be added for people to access this information via their phones and an SMS service must be provided for the same. “I am impatient to get this information to those who must conform to these standards,” she said.
She mentioned two streams of challenges which needed to be addressed over the course of the conclave. One relates to how India can become part of the standards setting system and increase conformity, the other relates to India’s role in the global debate. Standards are not just about export promotion but also making India ready to meet its internal needs.
Mr. R V Deshpande, Minister for Large and Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Karnataka, said that the state is providing incentives to the industrial units adopting standards. Its procurement policy included standards conformity and it has established infrastructure for conformity assessment with focus on Research and Development.
Ms. Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Department of Commerce stated that since the last edition of the Conclave, the new Bureau of India Standards (BIS) Act has been passed and the Consumer Products Act has been amended as per the recommendations of the previous Standards Conclaves. She noted that for the first time, standards in the services sector are being addressed. She suggested a National Strategy for Standards as well as Vision Document for the same.
Ms. Alka Panda, Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), suggested the creation of a Technical Regulation Management Board which would provide an institutional framework to ensure policy coherence and coordination on standards and technical regulations.
Mr. Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India, stated that there was a need to work with SMEs to help improve their standards. He also spoke of the need to create a standards compliance system which was easy to comply with.
Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, President Designate, CII highlighted standards for the services sector e.g. tourism & hospitality, healthcare, education etc. He stressed on the need for greater involvement of states in the development of standards as well as the need to help MSMEs and the agriculture sector comply with international standards.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII outlined the outcomes of the various editions of the Standards Conclave. These include enactment of the BIS Act, recognition of the need for standards in services, development of a National Standards Strategy and the development of the National Standards Portal.
Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry proposed the Vote of Thanks.
May 1, 2017