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India sets its own standard for electronics goods

December 11, 2012 11:11 IST

Come April 2013 and manufacturers of laptop, desktops, printers and other electronics items will have to get their products certified from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to sell them in the country.

To curb the grey market for sub-standard electronics products, the government has made it mandatory for all manufacturers in India to get a standard compliant certificate from BIS. It will be applicable for all electronics products imported or manufactured after April 2013.

This is the first time India is imposing its own standards on global products.

"Around 30-40 per cent of the overall electronics market (sales) in India is in the grey market. Some are sub-standard. To safeguard the consumers, we have made it mandatory for the electronics manufacturer to get a standard compliance certificate before selling it in the market," said a senior official of the department of electronics and information technology (DeiTy). The department had issued an order pertaining to this earlier this year.

Under this, DeiTy has listed 15 product categories, the sellers of which are mandatorily required to obtain compliance certificates before selling in India.

These include laptops, tablets, televisions (LCD and LED), optical disc players, microwave ovens, printers, scanners, wireless keyboards, video monitors, telephone answering machines, amplifiers, musical systems, electronic clocks and set-top boxes, among others.

"We are also trying to create awareness among consumers to go for standardised products. We have approached the Jago Grahak forum to include this as a part of their consumer awareness campaigns," the DeiTy official added.

In the second phase, the department is planning to include mobile phones and some other electronics goods, which will have to comply with the new standard. The standards have been set by a multi-stakeholders group comprising of members from DeiTy, BIS and others.

The manufacturers will have to send the products to the accredited laboratories that will conduct the tests and send the report to the BIS who will issue the certificates.

If the products fail to meet the standards, the manufacturers will have to deform the items beyond use and dispose it off as scrap, the DeiTy official added.

Designated officials from DeiTy will also have the powers to inspect, enter and search any premises and seize electronics goods, which they believe do not comply with the standards.

Though the industry has welcomed the move, some are apprehensive about the implementation and duplication of efforts.

"It is a good thing to have standards for electronics items. But the government should give some relaxation to global players, who are already confirming to international standards. The standards required by the Indian government are similar to the international standards," said Alok Bharadwaj, senior vice-president of Canon India, also a former president of the industry body Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT).

According to an industry expert, the new order can create business disruption for some of the electronics manufacturers. According to the law, every factory will have to be registered with the BIS for testing.

If the manufacturer is not manufacturing the product in India, then the products need to be tested by a laboratory in the country of its origin. However, to conduct such testing the foreign lab will first have to get accreditation from the BIS. MAIT is likely take this issue up with the government.

According to data from the Electronics Industries Association of India (ELCINA), the electronics products market in India is expected to touch $158 billion by 2015.

Piyali Mandal in New Delhi
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