Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Monday that India should take the lead in making quality products available to the world at affordable prices. Inaugurating the Fourth National Standards Conclave organised by the Department of Commerce in association with CII, BIS, EIC, FSSAI, APEDA and NABCB, Sitharaman emphasised the need for both quality and affordability for manufacturers to comply and consumers to buy. She said Prime Minister's 'Zero Effect Zero Defect' idea aims at exactly this. She cited the costing and quality involved in the launch of the Mangalyan as a prime example of quality with affordability. Sitharaman said long-term strategy should not lose sight of immediate challenges. Any national strategy for standards should be able to factor in technology to disseminate any change in import requirements in foreign countries so that our exporters are well prepared to overcome those barriers. This dissemination has to be in regional languages. This has become critical as the number of notifications in WTO has increased and many deals with standards," she added. The minister highlighted the issues confronting the agriculture sector, where the nature of standards set in international bodies often militates against the Indian varieties. She stressed that international standards, especially in food produce must value variety over homogeneity and India must participate actively in such standards setting.
When sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) controls are put on agro products, like mango or grapes unilaterally, they hurt our farmers. Similarly, the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of certain pesticides or biocides are altered too quickly in the foreign markets and farmers are taken by surprise. So, efforts must be put to create a quick information system for such farmers and exporters. She hoped that the proposed strategy would provide a guide or a kind of framework so that we avoid such crises at negotiation stage itself.The Minister also launched the India Standards Portal - a one-stop portal for all information on standards, technical regulations, conformity assessment and accreditation practices, and the related bodies in India and advised that portal should also help exporters to identify regulations in various countries abroad.