India may soon get service standards in sectors such as healthcare, education and tourism, Surina Rajan, director general at Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) told NDTV on sidelines of the launch of an online community of consumers and industry for standards consultation, in association with LocalCircles. The roll-out is likely to start out in the next six-eight months, according to Ms Rajan.
Recognising the need to standardise services, especially those which have a mass user base and others with a critical need for consumer protection, BIS said it has already initiated work to develop standards to govern key service sectors with the formation of internal committees.
"Because developing standards for such a vast number of service sectors is a drawn-out process, we are going to first prioritise the 12 champion sectors recognised by the Ministry of Commerce", Ms Rajan said. These sectors include information technology and IT enabled services, financial services, education services etc.
Developing standards for key services is important not only from a consumer protection point of view, but also for expanding growth in the sector, increasing employment and encouraging exports, she said.
The BIS will also focus on formulating ways to develop standards for India's booming digital space, and service providers' switching to the online medium to book services has necessitated that the sector is governed by some standards.
"Often websites come to offer services and disappear… authentication is important, and they need standards,” Ms Rajan added.
Currently, there are no direct standards governing services by the BIS, according to Ms Rajan. Globally, she added, standards have revolved more around the manufacturing sector.
Services with a mass user base such as construction, education and healthcare currently do not adhere to any standards by the BIS.
The BIS has now partnered with an online community of start-ups to seek public and industry feedback in standard development and enhancement. Through the community, the BIS will also seek feedback on areas which are outside the governance of other regulatory bodies, and evaluate whether it can step in to plug those gaps.
The BIS has formulated over 19,000 standards through technical committees which consists of representatives of consumers, regulatory and other government bodies, industry laboratories, scientists and technical experts.