World Standards Day is celebrated the world over to raise awareness and focus on the need for global standardization and its role in meeting the needs of consumers, trade and industry. It is celebrated on October 14 every year to mark the foundation of the International Organization for Standardization, popularly known as the ISO.
It was on this day in 1946 that 25 countries met in London and decided to create an international organization with the objective of facilitating international coordination and unification of industrial standards. The ISO started functioning in 1947 with the Indian Standards Institution as one of the founder members. Over the years, the membership of ISO has gone up with 130 member countries representing developed and developing economies.
The Bureau of Indian Standards
In the twilight years of the British rule in India, when the country was faced with the gigantic task of laying the industrial infrastructure, it was the institution of Engineers (India), which prepared the first draft of the constitution of an Institution which could take up the task of formulation of National Standards. This led to the Department of Industries and Supplies issuing a memorandum on September 3, 1946 formally announcing the setting up of an organisation called the Indian Standards Institution. It was on January 6, 1947 that the ISI came into being and in June 1947 Dr. Lal C. Verman took over as its first Director. Symbolic of the role, the Indian Standards Institution (I.S.I.) was to play the first standard drawn was for the National Flag of India.
Considerable progress has since been made by the Indian Standards Institution with its multifarious activities like standards formulation, certification, testing of products international cooperation and standards promotion. However, a need was felt to provide recognition and status to the organisation to enable it to discharge its functions effectively. Thus the Government enacted the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 which led to the establishment of the Bureau of Indian Standards as a statutory body on April 1, 1987.
Standardization is intrinsic to life and we see its many manifestations in nature and life around us. Standardization encourages improvement in the quality of life and makes major contributions to safety, public health and environment protection.
Standardization is based on the experiences of daily life itself. They are results of a cooperative effort, and revised from time to time to keep in step with technological progress. They provide us with a criteria for judgement, a measurement of quality and a certain guarantee of compatibility and interchangeability.
In the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), similar to standards bodies the world over, standards are formulated through technical committees which have representatives from the manufacturers, technical experts and users. The standards are documents of consensus which are finalized after taking the views of all those who may have an interest in it.
BIS plays the key role of holding the secretariat for the Technical Committees and collating and analysing the data and other information which may be required for formulating the standards. BIS has formulated nearly 17,000 standards which may be categorized as basic standards, product specifications and methods of test and codes of practices.
ISI Standard Mark
With the objective of satisfying the consumer in terms of product quality, the BIS has undertaken various quality certification activities. The domestic consumer is familiar with the ISI mark on a product which is an assurance that the product conforms to the requirements as laid down in the specification. Conformity to the standard is ensured through regular surveillance of the manufacturing process, surprise inspections and testing of samples drawn from the factory as well as from the market. Fraudulent and unauthorized use of the ISI mark is a violation of the law punishable under the BIS Act.
Quality Management System
There is a world-wide movement for installing Quality Management Systems in accordance with the IS/ISO 9000 series. In India also this has become a prime requisite for manufacturers and service sector units which wish to make an impact in the domestic and global markets. The concept of Quality Management Systems aims at quality control mechanism at every stage of a manufacturing or a service system and not just the quality of the end product as is the case with product certification.
With the growing concern for environment-friendly industrial activity, the ISO 14,000 series of standards were developed. After adopting these standards as national standards the BIS has also launched the Environment Management System Certification under which units may demonstrate their compliance with the ISO 14000 standards. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) Certification which again has acquired international recognition for certifying the safety of food manufacturing process has also been undertaken by the BIS. The Bureau of Indian Standards has also formulated IS 15000 : 1998 which is equivalent to the internationally accepted Codex standards.
BIS has established a chain of laboratories at different centres in the country for testing the conformity of certified products and also samples offered by applicants for grant of ISI mark. It also offers specialized services of calibration of test equipment and instruments and procurement of standard reference materials. They also undertake research and development for evolving speedy and effective test methods.
As a founder member of International Organization for Standardization (ISO), BIS continues to actively participate in international standardization. As a member of the ISO Council it participates in its policy-making bodies like the Committee on Developing Country matters (DEVCO), Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO), Committee on Information (INFCO) and Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO). Besides, it also holds secretarial responsibilities of various Technical Committees and Subcommittees and maintains participation status and observer status on most of the Technical Committees.
BIS is also actively involved in International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and has participation status or observer on all the important Technical Committees.