Ajit Seth, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India stressed the importance of a strong standards ecosystem under the ‘Make in India’ campaign. He said that it is important for Indian manufacturers to comply with the right standards to export value added products and for India to become a manufacturing hub. The Cabinet Secretary was addressing the Standards Conclave 2015, jointly organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The Cabinet Secretary noted that India’s standards regime is at a nascent stage with low awareness and adoption. This provides the opportunity to build a progressive and futuristic standards eco system, including standards in services. He directed the Department of Commerce to prepare a time-bound action plan in four weeks to stress the urgency of reforms in the area.
Earlier, Rajeev Kher, Commerce Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, noted that the big takeaway from the event is for all the government agencies to work towards creating a standards ecosystem around the relevant products with identified tasks. He said that the standards agenda now has political endorsement but industry must take ownership and drive it further.
Kher also noted that a Standards Training Institute is getting materialised. The technical institute will involve multiple stakeholders from the government as well as industry. The institute will be a step in the right direction in effectively taking forward the standards agenda. Kher also stressed the importance of hastening the services standards agenda given the very important part it plays in the economy and in improving efficiency of the manufacturing sector.
G Gurucharan, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, noted the various legislative reforms to modernise the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act, 1986 and the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The comprehensive reforms have been approved by a group of ministers and will now be tabled in Parliament. The reforms are intended to improve the ease of doing business, bring greater coherence with international standards and make the mandatory standards broader, among other reforms, he said. The reforms in the Consumer Protection Act includes the introduction of Product Liability that will support the new standards ecosystem, he added. Although a ‘Standards Vision 2020’ document that had been recommended by a panel during the conclave, would be a good idea, he stressed the need to get down to action immediately by identifying certain products in certain sectors on a priority basis.
Anil Jauhri, CEO, NABCB, provided a summary of the deliberations and noted the way forward on technical barriers to trade (TBT) issues. He raised the importance of private standards in the market. S Dave, Director, APEDA and Former Chairman, Codex Alimentarius, enumerated 20 action points for the government and 9 for the industry towards achieving higher standards and building capacity at all governmental levels. M J Joseph, Former DG, BIS, during his summary on services standards highlighted the low level of development as well as adoption of standards in the sector.
Chairing the session, JS Deepak, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry noted that the Standards conclave has received support from all the stakeholders in government, industry and civil society.
The Conclave saw the participation of over 400 participants over the two days and involved all the major stakeholders, including, brought together BIS, Export Inspection Council, NABCB, FSSAI, APEDA, NABH and the National Skills Development Corporation. The Government plans on an advocacy drive to take the standards agenda forward at the state and local level.