Anirudh RegidiJan 24, 2017 11:27:49 IST
I think the biggest take away from the fiasco is the lack of any regulatory body in India with sufficient drive and power to spearhead a recall of this nature. If you remember the first Note 7 recall, once reports of fires started pouring in, Samsung, on its own initiative, issued a recall of the product in the US. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wasn’t apprised of the situation, but they still only took six days to issue a countrywide advisory against the Note 7.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning a day before the CPSC. This was on 8 September.
Samsung issued no such recall in India (at the time) and there was no official statement on the same. Granted, the Note 7 hadn’t yet officially gone on sale in the country at the time of the initial recall, but that doesn’t mean that devices weren’t in the country or that people weren’t flying with the phone.
The FAA officially banned the Note 7 from all flights on 14 October, but it wasn’t until 20 October that the device was officially banned from Indian flights. The DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) was so late, in fact, that local airlines banned the device on their own initiative.
Bodies like the FAA and CPSC are always on red alert and they ensure that other companies do the same. India needs a regulatory body with this level of commitment and drive.
While a regulatory body to oversee such situations is good, there needs to be a system in place to ensure that companies that sell their products in India take responsibility for their products.
Taking the case of the Note 7 again, Samsung was quick to issue a recall in the US, Europe, South Korea and China. India was conveniently ignored until sometime after the recall became a global phenomenon.
As mentioned earlier, the device hadn’t officially launched in the country, but again, that’s still no excuse for not taking responsibility for the products.
Customers who had pre-ordered the Note 7 didn’t get refunds or replacements on time and those who already had the device had to wait much longer for the official recall process to be initiated.
If you remember the recent ban of Nestle’s Maggi noodles, the only reason that the recall went so smoothly was that Nestle took responsibility for its product.
Why aren’t we expecting this from other companies? Supposing you find that some product sold in India is defective? Who do you turn to?
Higher standards for quality are necessary. Samsung’s own investigations narrowed the cause of the battery fires to poor quality control.
Products that are sold in India need to be subjected to some kind of standards. Institutes like the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) do exist, but we’re all aware of the number of shoddy products sold in India.
Not to say that BIS’ test processes are flawed. The problem is that BIS certification is voluntary for most products. The Indian Standards Bill of 2015, passed in March 2016, has helped to some extent. The bill essentially aims to establish the BIS as the National Standards body of India and give it more authority.
Speaking of BIS, how many people actually check for BIS certification or other such certification before buying a product? Are we even aware of what BIS certification is for or why it's necessary?
Did you know that products like milk powder and LPG cylinders, this certification is mandatory?
Did you know that all “electronic and information technology goods” sold in India require BIS certification and that it's illegal to sell a product without such certification?
Did you know that you could report uncertified products to the BIS?
The public needs to be more aware of the importance of such standards and the fact that they exist.
Of course, if Samsung couldn’t detect flaws in the Note 7, the BIS could have done little to detect the flaws in the Note 7 in advance.
Make in India not just for India, but for the world as well
The whole point of the ‘Make in India’ campaign was to give manufacturers incentive to shift production to India. Right now, most manufacturers seem to be interested in assembling in India and selling in India.
If we ever intend to see a “Made in India” iPhone sold in western markets, the aforementioned stricter standards and capable regulatory bodies will go a long way to ensuring the standards of goods manufactured here.
Samsung, for example, has listed out an 8-step test process for its batteries. What’s stopping India from enforcing such strict quality control measures on products manufactured here?
Once standards are established, selling to a global market will be that much easier.
Every mistake is a learning experience. Samsung made huge mistakes with the Note 7 fiasco and hopefully, they’ve learned from it. India can learn a lot from that fiasco as well, and those learnings will only stand to benefit us in the future.
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