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Laptops, tablets in a bind over ‘impossible’ directive

The deadlock over labelling certified electronics continues, days ahead of a June deadline set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

A recent missive by the bureau asked sellers of electronic products such as tablets and laptops to emboss or screenprint the quality certification on each product. However, the sector claims it is impossible to carry the attestation in this form because a big chunk of electronics is imported from countries such as Taiwan and China.

Alok Bharadwaj, executive vice-president of Canon India, said the new directive was “impossible” to comply with. “It would require significant retooling and interfering with the global supply chain,” he said and added the sector had requested the bureau to allow “pasting” of labels instead. The bureau is cold to this suggestion.

“Since it is impossible to follow, it defeats the objective of why electronic products were mandated to get BIS certification — to ensure only quality products are sold in the country,” Bharadwaj said.

The bureau says it is insisting on embossing or screenprinting to ensure compliance. “Pasting a label is easy and can be misused by those selling sub-standard products,” said a BIS official who did not wish to be identified. He added screenprinting was not a costly  exercise, as the sector has been claiming.

“India is becoming a dumping ground for electronic waste and this action will ensure some restraint,” the official said.

The deadlock between the bureau and the electronics sector follows almost a year-long battle after the department of electronics and information technology  made it mandatory for 16 categories of products to get BIS certification. The deadline for compliance was extended thrice due to a backlog at the bureau. The deadline for the new directive has been extended from the first week of April till the end of June.

The industry also claims the sentence to be printed on products was too long  and all the more difficult to enforce.

Anwar Shirpurwala, executive director of the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology, said electronic products had complex supply chains and components of a product were manufactured in different places and then assembled. He added the sector was raising the issue with other ministries.

According to a news report, a group of US companies had also taken up the issue with the commerce ministry, calling it a non-tariff trade barrier.

“We are waiting for the next government and will raise this issue at the highest possible level,” Bharadwaj said.


* Bureau of Indian Standards  wants the quality certification embossed or printed on the screen of tablets and laptops

* Producers contend it is impossible to do so because most products are imported from countries such as Taiwan and China

* The deadlock between BIS and the sector follows a year-long battle after the department of electronics and information technology said certification was necessary for 16 products


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