Monday, July 17, 2023
THE BUREAU OF INDIAN STANDARDS (BIS) UNVEILS NEW FOOTWEAR STANDARDS
India is making her mark in the global economy. Towards this, there has also been a focused initiative towards ensuring India’s recognition on the global stage as a quality conscious country.
Report by DIPIKA CHOPRA, Shoes & Accessories Magazine
As per the Union Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, global footwear manufacturers will have to comply to quality standards framed by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). BIS Footwear has developed a comprehensive policy that guides its operations and ensures that it delivers high-quality products to its customers. This policy is designed to ensure that the brands remain competitive and relevant in the dynamic and highly competitive footwear industry. The footwear industry in India has a lot of untapped potentials. It is projected that the sector is likely to grow at a 11-12% rate. Further, the Indian government is creating clusters or special zones with tax and other incentives to ease and attract investment in this sector.
The Centre’s move to make BIS certification mandatory is aimed at weeding out import of cheap and sub-standard footwear and promote domestic manufacturing of these items, but industry insiders believe given the nature of the sector, the move may cause more damage as the testing’s would attract added cost. Notably, this entire process is typically considered to be time consuming, laborious and dreaded by manufacturers. It is even more laborious for manufacturers located outside India, from the perspective of organizing, coordinating, & undertaking foreign travel arrangements. To be fair, with the need to ensure expedited licensing on account of the large number of products being covered under BIS, the authorities are accommodative and efficient throughout the process. From review of the initial application to undertaking factory visits, authorities have accepted clarifications on doubts raised and issued licenses swiftly.
Usually, BIS is expeditious in granting the license if the application is appropriate, the clarification provided are logical and the cooperation extended during the visit is uncompromised. BIS authorities have ensured that they invest commensurate efforts in responding timely from their end as well.
Is a BIS license mandatory?
Getting a BIS certification is usually voluntary. However, the government of India has mandated “compliance to Indian standards” for a few products keeping in mind public interest as well as animal and environment welfare. Under the BIS Act 2016, the government can bring under compulsory certification regime “any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security.” As of January 1, 2021, the government has made footwear a part of this list seeking a compulsory confirmation of safety norms that have been specified by the Bureau.
Who needs to apply?
Any organization that has a legal entity in India or abroad and is engaged in manufacturing or assembling can apply for a BIS certificate. In order to apply for the certificate, one can either login to BIS and fill out the application form there, or download the form, attach documents, and submit it with the stipulated fee.
How does BIS grant a license?
The Bureau conducts visits to the manufacturing premises of the organization seeking a certificate to assess its manufacturing infrastructure, quality control, and testing capabilities. In order to confirm that a given product adheres to the relevant standards, BIS conducts third-party laboratory testing/testing on the manufacturing premises, or both.
Post license surveillance
To ensure that a manufacturer is adhering to its safety and quality standards even after securing the license, BIS conducts “surprise factory surveillance inspections”. According to BIS, no person shall manufacture, import, distribute, sell, hire, lease, store or exhibit for sale any footwear without the ISI mark. Sellers, including retailers, are responsible for ensuring that only footwear carrying the Standard Mark are purchased from footwear manufacturers holding valid BIS license, and sold.
BIS Footwear recognizes the importance of sustainability in its operations and has implemented several measures to reduce its environmental impact. The company is committed to minimizing its carbon footprint and has implemented measures to reduce its energy consumption and waste generation. It has also adopted sustainable production practices, such as using eco-friendly materials and reducing the use of chemicals in its production processes.
BIS Footwear is also committed to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and has implemented measures to increase its use of renewable energy sources. The company has installed solar panels in its production facilities to generate renewable energy, reducing its reliance on grid electricity. This has not only helped to reduce the company’s carbon footprint but has also led to significant cost savings.
BIS Footwear is committed to ethical sourcing practices and ensures that its suppliers meet high ethical standards. The company has a strict supplier code of conduct that all its suppliers must adhere to. This code of conduct outlines the company’s expectations
regarding ethical behaviour, including labour practices, human rights, and environmental sustainability. BIS Footwear conducts regular audits
of its suppliers to ensure compliance with its code of conduct. The company also works closely with its suppliers to help them improve their ethical practices, providing training and support where necessary.
BIS Footwear policy is designed to ensure that the company remains competitive and relevant in the highly dynamic footwear industry. The policy is based on sustainability, ethical sourcing, customer satisfaction, innovation, and social responsibility. These principles guide the company’s operations, ensuring that it delivers high-quality products that are stylish, durable, and comfortable to wear.
APPLICATION PROCESS : Support, Guidance & Resources Required from BIS
Those desirous of obtaining the BIS licenses need to apply to BIS along with requisite Application Fee. Separate application is required to be submitted for each product / Indian Standard.
- The foreign manufacturer needs to set-up a liaison / branch office located in India with the permission of Reserve Bank of India and shall meet all liabilities with respect to BIS Act, Rules, and Regulations for purpose of the BIS license.
- The requirement to set up an office in India shall not apply if the foreign manufacturer nominates a legally appointed Agent, located in India, who declares his consent to be responsible for compliance to the provisions of the BIS Act, 2016; Rules and Regulations, and terms & conditions of the BIS license, executed by or on behalf of the foreign manufacturer in connection with the grant of such license.
- The application is scrutinized, and if found complete in all respects, it is recorded. After recording of application, preliminary audit is carried out at the applicant’s manufacturing premises by BIS Auditor. The cost of preliminary audit is borne by the applicant, which also includes the cost to BIS of the man-days spent by BIS officer, expenditure towards travel, stay and per diem, as applicable for BIS officer as per the norms of the BIS.
- During the preliminary audit, competence of the applicant is checked in respect of: availability of requisite in-house manufacturing and testing facilities as per the Indian Standard(s); competence of permanently employed testing personnel; and conformity of the product sample(s) to the relevant requirements of the Indian Standard, when checked in the factory during the Preliminary Inspection.
- Sample(s) are also drawn for independent testing, which the applicant is required to deposit with the laboratory identified by BIS. The discretion to choose the laboratory rests solely with BIS. The cost of testing of the sample(s) is to be borne by the applicant.
The BIS license is granted to an applicant, if:
- results of preliminary inspection are satisfactory;
- applicant agrees to comply with the Scheme of Testing and Inspection (STI);
- applicant agrees to pay the annual minimum marking fee and the license fee to BIS; and
- applicant signs Agreement with BIS for compliance of terms and conditions of the license as given in Reg. 5 of the BIS (Certification) Regulations, 1988. 38
- Immediately after grant of the BIS license, the licensee is required to pay annual minimum marking fee and annual license fee to BIS.
- Subsequently, the licensee is required to pay the marking fee, quarterly, based on the production covered under the Standard Mark during the quarter, as per the accepted marking fee rates.
- The BIS license, so granted, is valid for one year.
- The applicant is required to sign an Agreement with BIS for due compliance of the terms and conditions of the license, as given in the BIS (Certification) Regulations,1988.
- The Agreement between BIS and the licensee / manufacturer includes provision for fee, nomination, rights and responsibilities of licensee, determination / termination, indemnity, performance bank guarantee, non-renewal, cancellation of licensees.
- Sample(s) is/are drawn by BIS from market during operation of the license. The cost of market samples, thus drawn, is borne by BIS. The cost of testing of the sample(s) is borne by BIS.