Call to strengthen infrastructure for quality assurance

Director of Delhi-based National Physical Laboratory, Dinesh K. Aswal, has highlighted the need to strengthen the infrastructure for assuring quality in the country to help it reach the goal of a developed state at the earliest.

“All the three pillars of quality infrastructure – metrology, standards an accreditation are well placed in the country. However, quality infrastructure is not strong enough. Consequently, the four helices – the government, university/ S&T institutions, industry and civil society and media, that are responsible for economic growth and quality of life, are not well connected. This needs to improve”, he said, delivering a lecture here.

The talk was organised under the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Forum lecture Series sponsored by Vigyan Prasar, along with Research and Information System for Developing Countries and other bodies.

Dr Aswal said there was a need to improve the capabilities of NPL which is India’s national measurement institute. Any measuring equipment in a country should be calibrated through a measurement chain to what are called primary standards maintained by the national measurement institute. These primary standards, in turn, are traceable to the international system of units (SI units) through what are called Calibration and Measurement Capabilities (CMCs).

The CMCs are awarded to the national measurement institutes by a global system called International Committee of Weights and Measures –Mutual Recognition Agreement. The strength of a national measurement institute is measured in terms of the number of Calibration and Measurement Capabilities generated by it. India has 236 of them as against 1889 by the US.

Noting that the creation of a new Calibration and Measurement Capability is a long, expansive and tedious process, he said it required capital investment, trained manpower and inter-comparison of measurement capabilities with other national measurement institutes in the world.

There was, he said, a need to disseminate measurement traceability from NPL to all laboratories in the country. For this, there was a need to evolve a strategy, including assignment of secondary or reference standard status to various laboratories under different ministries.

He also emphasised the need for greater support for the National Bureau for Accreditation of Laboratories and Bureau of Indian Standards, which complemented NPL’s work in the area of quality assurance by providing accreditation and setting standards.

“A mechanism should be evolved to increase the synergy among the quality infrastructure institutions and the various regulatory bodies. In addition, a national programme on indigenous development of analytical equipment needed for conformity assessment must be planned. They are now imported,” he added. (India Science Wire)

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