Inadequate enforcement of Indian standards has encouraged spurious manufacturers to put unsafe products on the market, write Nitin Mittal and Nitish Poonia
A 2019 Nielsen study on lighting products and their compliance with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) safety norms came as a surprise to many, as it was found that 52% of the LED (light-emitting diode) downlights and 47% of the LED lamps were non-compliant, flout mandatory safety norms and expose consumers to safety risks.
Besides non-compliance to BIS safety standards, it found the products also flouted legal metrology requirements, which require certain mandatory disclosures in the interest of consumers. The study further states that 61% of LED downlights and 44% of LED lamps did not meet the mandatory information to be displayed on product packaging as per the legal metrology norms, making a mockery of the law.
The market size of the lighting industry in India is pegged at ₹200 billion (US$2.7 billion), a substantial share of which are products that are neither legally compliant nor safe for consumers, according to independent market studies.
There has also been a surge in sales of spurious LED products where manufacturers are selling products using fake registration details, where either registration numbers are invalid or in some cases they have been taken from another brand. Consumers currently lack awareness about how to identify genuine registrations, and about the compulsory registration scheme (CRS).
The Indian Standards Institution (ISI) came into being on 6 January 1947 for the purpose of formulating on national standards, and initially concentrated on greater standardization among products. Subsequently, a certification marks scheme (CMS) was launched in 1956 to enable it to grant licences to manufacturers producing goods in conformity with Indian standards, and to apply the ISI mark on their products.
This change helped create confidence in consumers, that a product bearing the ISI mark was perceived to be meeting a certain quality standard set by the government. In later years, the ISI was subsumed into the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which was established on 26 November 1986.
Nitin Mittal is general counsel and Nitish Poonia is head of public and government affairs at Signify Innovation India (formerly Philips Lighting). The views expressed by the authors are personal.