Describes the country's standards landscape, identifies the national standards and accreditation bodies, and lists the main national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.
India has generally made efforts to match national standards in line with international norms, and most Indian standards are harmonized with International Standards Organization (ISO) standards. Nonetheless, there is pressure in India to devise “Indian Standards” which will create barriers to trade and posed challenges to expanding U.S. exports in certain sectors. India has also frequently failed to notify the WTO of new standards and allow time for discussion with its trading partners prior to implementation.
Because of pressure from consumer rights groups, NGOs, and environmental activists there is a growing emphasis on product standards in India in various industry sectors. The proactive role of the judiciary in formulating the legal framework and regulations for better standards and control in sectors such as the environment have also contributed to an increased awareness and emphasis on product standards in India. But, for instance, while Indian food safety laws are outdated or in some cases more stringent than international norms, enforcement is weak.
In India, voluntary standards are exclusively developed by the national standards body. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), established under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act of 1986, is the national standards body of India responsible for development and formulation of standards. In March 2016, the Government of India passed a revised bill to replace the 30-year-old Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act. The bill will establish the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as a national body and empower the Central Government to authorize any other agency having necessary accreditation for conformity assessment against Indian standards. The new changes will be implemented through coming years in a phased manner.
BIS is comprised of representatives of industry, consumer organizations, scientific and research bodies, professional organizations, technical institutions, Indian government ministries, and members of parliament.
Besides the development and formulation of Indian Standards, BIS is involved with product certification, quality system certifications and testing, and consumer affairs.
The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) has designated BIS as the National WTO-TBT Enquiry Point in accordance with its obligations to the agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade of the WTO. According to the agreement, BIS in liaison with the Indian (MOCI), issues notifications on proposed technical regulations and certification systems in India to the WTO. BIS’s Technical Information Services Center responds to domestic and foreign requests for information about Indian standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment rules. U.S. companies that wish to make comments on any notifications can obtain copies of the text from BIS from the WTO-TBT Enquiry Point, Technical Information Services Center in BIS. BIS communicates comments to the Ministry of Commerce.
BIS is the only organization in India authorized to operate quality certification plans under an Act of parliament. It serves as the official member and sets policy for Indian participation in the ISO and International Electro Technical Commission (IEC).
In addition, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 as a statutory body for laying down standards for articles of food and regulating manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food.
NIST Notify U.S. Service
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to notify to the WTO proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that could affect trade. Notify U.S. (www.nist.gov/notifyus) is a free, web-based e-mail registration service that captures and makes available for review and comment key information on draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Users receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications are added by selected country or countries and industry sector(s) of interest and can also request full texts of regulations. This service and its associated web site are managed and operated by the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Testing, inspection, and certification
In association with technical GOI agencies and NGOs, BIS carries out periodic surveillance inspections of products under mandatory certification. A provision exists for sub-contracting certification surveillance activities to relevant competent agencies in specific areas. Certain types of steel, rubber, and electronic products are presently under such surveillance agreements.
BIS’s product standards are basically voluntary in nature, but after the removal of quantitative restrictions (QRs) on imports by India in 2000, the GOI, to provide protection to domestic producers in certain sectors, promulgated regulations dictating that imports of certain products are subject to mandatory compliance with specified Indian quality standards. For compliance, all exporters/manufacturers of such products are required to register with, and obtain certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards, before exporting such goods to India.
As per BIS, products under compulsory certification, fall into two schemes, ISI Mark Scheme comprising of 187 items and Registration Scheme comprising of 49 items. For more information on the product list click on https://bis.gov.in/index.php/product-certification/products-under-compulsory-certification/
These products generally must be tested and certified by BIS in India. BIS, however, also has a system for foreign companies to receive automatic certification for products not manufactured in India. The system is based on a self-certification basis, under which a foreign manufacturer is permitted to apply the standards mark on the product after ascertaining its conformity to the respective Indian Standard license. At the foreign manufacturer’s expense, BIS inspectors travel to the manufacturer’s country to inspect their production facility to pre-certify the company and its production system, and then authorize subsequent monitoring and compliance by an independent inspector to ensure that the company maintains the specified standards.
Information on the application procedure for BIS Product Certification Plan for foreign companies is available through the BIS website
Exporters/manufacturers of these products also are required to maintain a presence in India. This requirement does not apply if the foreign manufacturer nominates an authorized representative in India who agrees to be responsible for compliance with the provisions of BIS on behalf of the foreign manufacturer as per an agreement signed between the manufacturer and BIS. Under separate arrangements some products have been placed under special certification plans of lot or batch inspections carried out by BIS inspecting officers. Most gas cylinders, deep well hand pumps and valves are certified through such plans.
The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) issues food import clearance certificates for all food articles. The import requirements are listed on the FSSAI website: https://fssai.gov.in/cms/food-safety-and-standards-regulations.php
The National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) established in 1985 as an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology is authorized by the GOI as the sole accreditation body for testing and calibration laboratories. More than 200 testing and calibration laboratories have been accredited to date.
For international mutual acceptance of test results to be compliant with the WTO/Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) regulations, NABL is a member of international organizations such as International Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation (ILAC) and Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Co-operation (APLAC). NABL is a signatory to ILAC as well as APLAC Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA), based on mutual evaluation and acceptance of other MRA Partner laboratory accreditation systems.
Indian manufacturing companies are investing in standards accreditation. The number of plants in India with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 accreditation increased from a negligible figure in the early nineties to many thousands today and numerous Indian companies have won the Deming prize for total quality management.
Publication of technical regulations
In 2007, in order to meet its commitment under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs) Agreement, the Government of India implemented the “Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules”, known as the Customs Rules on IPR. The purpose of the rules was to prevent counterfeiting and infringing goods from being imported into the Indian markets. The Customs Rules on IPR provide rights holders the opportunity to record their IPR, i.e. trademark, designs, copyright, patent and geographical indication online, through the Indian Customs IPR Recordation Portal, which helps facilitate Customs enforcement actions to prevent trade in counterfeit or infringing goods. The 2007 rule was amended from time to time to fine tune the process. The rule was recently amended in 2018, to remove ability for rights holders to record their patent related rights, and the power of custom authorities to seize imports related to alleged patent infringement. See: https://ipr.icegate.gov.in/IPR or click here for more details on the Customs IPR Recordation Portal and enforcement process.
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