Learning Science via Standards’ initiative

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    In News

    • The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution launches an initiative for students to learn science via standards.

    About

    • The National Standards Body of India, known as the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), has recently introduced an educational programme called ‘Learning Science via Standards’ for students.
    • This initiative is designed to help students grasp different schemes, policies and concepts through the lens of standards.
    • The initiative is in continuum with an earlier BIS initiative under which ‘Standards Clubs’ are being established in educational institutions across India.
    • Over the years, more than 4200 such Clubs have been formed with over one lakh student members who are exposed to industries and laboratories for developing standards as learning experience.

    What is the ‘Learning Science via Standards’ initiative?

    • The initiative focuses on a series of lesson plans aimed to use scientific concepts, principles and laws governing the Indian standards system.
    • The initiative will help students understand their practical applications in manufacturing, functioning and testing of quality characteristics of different products as stated in the relevant Indian Standards.
    • The subjects for the lesson plans are largely related to products used in day-to-day life and have been chosen based on their relevance to education as part of the course curriculum as well as to industrial applications.
    • BIS officials and resource personnel will transact the lesson plans to the students for an interactive learning experience which will also be hosted on the BIS website.

    Purpose of the initiative

    • The lesson plans will serve as a means for the students of schools and colleges to appreciate the significance of quality and standards.
    • It will empower them to boldly face real-life situations in any of their future endeavours.
    • The initiative is expected to benefit a wide range of students, including those in schools, colleges, and technical institutions.

    Challenges of ensuring standards in India

    • Lack of Awareness: Lack of understanding of standards among manufacturers, consumers, and policymakers leads to non-compliance with standards and a lack of demand for quality products.
    • Weak Enforcement: Despite the existence of standards and regulations, their enforcement is weak, which leads to non-compliance by manufacturers and importers.
    • Lack of Infrastructure: The lack of adequate infrastructure for testing, certification, and quality control such as insufficient laboratory facilities, shortage of trained personnel, and inadequate accreditation systems.
    • Fragmented Market: India has a fragmented market with a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which lack the resources to comply with standards and certification requirements.
    • Cost: Compliance with standards and certification requirements can be expensive, which is a significant challenge for SMEs and startups.
    • Technological Obsolescence: The fast-paced technological changes create a challenge for standards development and enforcement as the standards need to be updated regularly to keep pace with technological advancements.
    • International Harmonization: The global trade requires harmonization of standards between countries while India faces the challenge of aligning its standards with international standards while preserving its domestic priorities.

    Importance of ensuring standards

    • Consumer Protection: Standards help protect the health, safety, and well-being of consumers by ensuring that products and services meet certain quality and safety standards.
    • Quality Assurance: Standards promote quality assurance and help to prevent the sale of substandard or counterfeit products.
    • Innovation: Standards play a vital role in fostering innovation and supporting the development of new products and technologies.
    • Trade and Commerce: Standards help to facilitate trade and commerce both domestically and internationally by ensuring that products and services meet certain quality and safety standards.
    • Environment: Standards also help to promote environmental protection and sustainability by encouraging the use of environmentally friendly technologies and practices.
    • Competitiveness: Standards can enhance the competitiveness of Indian businesses by ensuring that their products and services meet global standards and are therefore more attractive to customers.
    • Public Health: Standards in healthcare can help ensure the safety and efficacy of medical devices, drugs, and treatments, thereby safeguarding public health.

    Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 

    • It is the national standards body of India established in 1947 under the Indian Standards Institution (ISI) Act, 1946.
    • It is responsible for the development of standards, product certification, and testing and quality control in India.
    • It operates through its headquarters in New Delhi and five regional offices located in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh, and Delhi. 
    • It develops and publishes standards for products, systems, services, and processes to ensure the safety, quality, and reliability of products and services.
    • BIS operates a product certification scheme, which provides third-party assurance of the conformity of products to Indian Standards.
    • It has developed over 24,000 standards in various fields such as engineering, food, agriculture, textile, consumer goods, and services.
    • BIS is also a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC).

    Conclusion

    • The proposed initiative is expected to contribute towards the capacity building of students to engage successfully in a variety of economic sectors in the country. 
    • However, there is a need for a multi-pronged approach, involving awareness-building, capacity-building, infrastructure development, simplification of procedures, and closer collaboration with stakeholders to ensure desired results. 
    • The ‘Learning Science via Standards’ initiative is a step towards bridging the gap between theory and real life use of science education. 
    • It will enable students to relate the concepts of science to their actual applications and also promote a culture of quality and standardization in the country.”

    Source: TH