As a kid, I remember seeing the ISI mark advertisements promoting the new standards. The 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 its quality was compromised by the components used to make them. I thought to myself whether I should buy ISI marked goods solely because it is marked ISI, or look at other standards.
But even that is questionable. At one of my previous organizations, we were in the process of getting certified for ISO 9001 and 27001. We were told to clear out desktops, what all questions can potentially the auditor will ask 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 did not follow some of the standards laid down, for practicality but never compromising compliance to the serious stuff. Such instances make me wonder, why I did not follow the practices laid down? Maybe just because others did not follow the standards?
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, the former doesn’t. However, quality levels of both the helmets are vastly different, LS2 being the better of the two. 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.
Helmet without DOT, EEC standards
So it happened to me, this one time when a cop stopped me to check my license and papers. I guess the police noticed that I was not wearing the typical Indian brands, and maybe a cheap one from afar.
After checking for papers, he pointed at my helmet and asked to see the ISI mark. I promptly told him that for my Rs. 55,000 scooter, I bought a helmet worth Rs. 5400. That is how much I care about my safety. I think that did the trick, and he seemed not interested in making some money via bribe that day (would not have given him anyways). He did a manual inspection and made a note that this is a great quality helmet and let me go.
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 a detailed sketch of breast and areolae which is out of the curriculum. As a result, I got slapped on my butt with the cane. Ten times, no less! It did not stop my wilder, young imagination, but did stop me from drawing it again till date.
What I mean to say is, there are possibilities of implementing stricter norms with surprise checks. It is known to everyone. However, no one is ready to deploy efficiently. Like in the case of helmets I explained above. There are many roadside helmets that you can buy for Rs. 200 ($3) or less 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 the product claims compliance.
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 on 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 arreseted at grassroots levels for a better future!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.