As a kid, I remember seeing the ISI mark advertisement promoting the new standards. Government was very much active in propagating it, and soon even manufacturers started adding it to their adverts. It soon became the standard it intended out to be, thanks to the push from the Government to make it mandatory for everyone to comply with it.
In last two years I had purchased a few electrical goods that didn’t do great, but had the ISI mark on it intact. But I do know for sure that it’s quality was compromised by the components used to make them. This led me to believe that I should never buy goods that are marked with ISI without ignoring any other standards.
But even that is questionable. At one of my previous organizations, we were being ratified for ISO 9001 and 27001. We were told to clear out desktops, what we will be or could be asked and how to answer them. Once the auditor comes, I have never seen him/her audit. Once s/he is gone, things are back to normal. So I should have concluded that it doesn’t always get checked, I did not. I myself did not follow some of the standards laid down, for practicality but never compromising compliance to the serious stuff. This of course made me wonder why I did not follow the practices laid down? May be just because others did not.
DOT v/s ISI
For my rides to work and back, I have two helmets. A Studds Scorpio and an LS2 Star. The LS2 undoubtedly is a much better helmet of the two but the latter has an ISI mark. LS2 doesn’t. This often made me wonder the quality levels of both the helmets. ISI [IS 4151 (Indian Standard, Bureau of Indian Standards, India)] one is approved for use, but the better quality one in this case [DOT FMVSS 218 (USA)]is not. You can be fined by the traffic cops if they check it. Often though they would let you go with a warning, but there are chances that you may meet a tough nut.
Once I met with a cop who questioned the helmet. I told him that for my Rs. 55,000 scooter, I bought a Rs. 5400 helmet. That is how much I care about my own safety. He did a manual inspection and made a note that this is great quality helmet and let me go.
Even web has standards. I discovered that after extensive reading I did to make my website as good as I can. The result was that I was able to code much better HTML than before. It helped me to also teach people importance of standardization.
Solution is Surprise Check!
While growing up, I never realized the importance of surprise checks till I reached about 9th standard at my school. I got busted for drawing detailed sketch of breast and areolae which is out of curriculum. As a result, I got slapped on my butt with cane. 10 times! It did not stop my wilder, just-adult imagination, but did stop me from drawing it till date. For your imagination though, I will not do it again.
What I mean to say is, there are possibilities of implementing tougher norms with surprise checks. And it is known to everyone. But the implementation of such checks is not. Like in the case of helmets I explained above. There are many roadside helmets that you can buy for Rs. 200 ($3 or less) that have the ISI Mark with the standard IS 1415 imprinted on it. However, it of course will not meet the standard it is claiming to meet. People buy a Rs. 200 helmet or lid as some would call it, to avoid the fine of Rs. 100 for not riding with helmet (+ the bribe over the top in some cases).
Or take for that matter any electronic device. A surprise check by BIS or the authorized government agency may help the case. Like it happened in the case with Nestle’s Maggi.
There are many ways to check for authenticity. One of them is to check if the ISI mark carries the approved license code. All approved products need to carry 7-digit license number(written as CM/L-xxxxxxx) required by BIS or Bureau of Indian Standards. You will also find an IS number at the top of the mark, which denotes the type of standard it is compliant with. It is a well-known fact that in India, you will easily find so many products with fake ISI marks. Fakes usually do not carry the license number. I am not even sure if these fake marks also copy someone’s license number or if they just purely fake it even.
While you cannot be accurate in judging the standard compliance, you can at least check for the license number. If the product does not carry it, then you should plan to put it back in the shelf and make sure you let the shop owner know. That is the best you can do. The rest is for Government to take concrete steps to ensure this issue is curbed from grassroots.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.