Every day, standards and standardization make a difference in the lives of everyone. Standards help to keep our homes, public buildings, playgrounds, electrical appliances, and health services safe. They help protect our environment, increase productivity and drive innovation. Put simply, standards make things better: safer, of better quality and easier to use. But as a consumer, you don’t just benefit from existing standards. You can help shape tomorrow’s standards too.
Every year, October 14 is observed globally as World Standards Day to acknowledge and honor the relentless efforts of thousands of global experts, who work toward developing voluntary standards in standards development organizations like the IEC, ISO and IEEE. World Standards Day also seeks to increase awareness among governments, regulators and consumers about the criticality of adopting and implementing standards. The special day also provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the benefits that standards bring to our everyday lives, the market economy and for smooth running of public affairs.
In India, an unhappy consumer first approaches the company on a faulty product or service. If the company is unable to address the complaints satisfactorily, the customer can move to Consumer Court. However, most often, the consumers may not have complete access to the company or product information, purely because of low-level awareness of redressals. The international standardization system, spearheaded by IEC, ISO, ITU, IEEE and IETF, has helped ensure efficiency, effectiveness, economy, quality, safety, reliability, compatibility and interoperability in products and services. From the simple to the complex, and the local to the global, standards have integrated products and services. To meet technical and economic challenges faced by businesses, governments and societies, standards organizations develop workable solutions and publish them as international standards.
With the launch of the ‘Make in India’ initiative by the government of India in September 2014, the volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) to India surpassed that to US and China. The initiative designed to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure focuses on 25 sectors of the economy.
Meeting global standards boosts predictability, builds trust, attracts investment and fosters growth. A product or service conforming to an international standard is imbued with a trusted symbol of quality, safety or compatibility. Standards speak to the diversity of our interconnected world, introducing uniformity at the interfaces where we need to be certain that we understand each other.
Along with safety certification and consumer awareness, what India essentially wants is a strong implementation of existing regulations. The obligation lies on the government and regulatory bodies to help raise awareness and develop a culture, by which consumers know their legal rights and have a platform to raise concerns against unsafe and substandard products. Irrespective of products and their price caps, consumers expect services and products will be consistent in quality, durability and ease of use.
While contributions of industry experts, businesses and the government are essential to ensure technical validity of standards, an important element of the standards process is that all interested and materially affected parties must have the opportunity to take part. Consumer and user contributions to the standards development process add balanced, impartial views, and help to produce voluntary standards, which reflect more accurately the needs and desires of the entire marketplace. This is true at all levels of standards development.
With more than 100 years of experience in drafting safety standards and certifying products for safety compliance, UL is a leading expert in safety science and offers advisory, training and assessment services.
UL in India is committed to augment the national efforts behind quality and safety assurance, thus boosting industry and commerce. Towards this commitment, we have collaborated with various governmental and regulatory bodies like CII and BIS.
As we celebrate World Standards Day on October 14, let us remind ourselves about the need for India to build and adhere to rigorous safety standards in all areas of industry and daily living.