Ram Vilas Paswan said by bringing all standards under one roof will help the country to ensure that imported products subscribe to Indian standards.
The consumer affairs ministry has floated a concept of ‘one nation, one standard’, under which about 50 different agencies (including food regulator FSSAI) that currently set specifications/standards for different products will fall under the purview of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). “Like ‘one nation, one ration card’, we are going to have ‘one nation, one standard’ in order to ensure quality products in the country,” consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said after chairing an inter-ministerial consultation meeting. Out of over 20,000 standards for various products and services, BIS has released mandatory standards only for 154 products, including 44 electronic items, while the remaining standards are voluntary. There are about 50-odd other agencies that have framed over 400 standards.
Paswan said by bringing all standards under one roof will help the country to ensure that imported products subscribe to Indian standards. Currently less than 10% of all imported products follow BIS standards, whereas in Europe, the compliance is 70%, officials said.
Even as the BIS plans to expand its scope, its enforcement is limited to only those companies which are registered with it. The agency does not regulate those products which are not registered with it, even in case of mandatory standards, said Rajesh Bajaj, deputy director general of the BIS. Consumer affairs secretary Avinash K Srivastava said other departments which have their own standards will continue to set those.
For instance, the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) will set standards on food, while the Automobile Research Organisation of India will make standards for the automobiles sector. But, those standards need to be converged with the BIS and redesignated, he said. This will help in easy implementation and monitoring of standards.
Bajaj said the entire process will take time and it depends on how soon other agencies are willing to converge with the BIS. “Once they are ready, their standard will be redesignated. For example, if FSSAI converges its standards, then its products would be known as BIS/FSSAI.”
Paswan also said the commerce ministry should approve on a priority basis a proposal to make the BIS hallmarking mandatory for gold jewellery before Diwali. The BIS has set standards for hallmarking gold jewellery in three grades – 14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat. Though many branded jewellery companies are following hallmark, there are a few which follow their own standards on purity as it is currently voluntary in nature.
“We have sent a proposal to the commerce ministry to allow mandatory hallmarking for gold jewellery,” the minister said. The commerce ministry will have to issue notification to introduce any mandatory regulation after informing the World Trade Organisation.