During the pre independence period, standardization activity was sporadic and confined mainly to a few Government purchasing organization. In the twilight years of British rule in India, when the country was faced with the gigantic task of building up the industrial infrastructure, it was the Institution of Engineers (India), which prepared the first draft of the Constitution of an Institution which could take up the task of formulation of National Standards. Formal announcement of the setting of an organization called the “Indian Standards Institution” was made in September 1946. The Indian Standards Institution (ISI) came into being on the 06 January 1947. In the initial years, the organization concentrated on standardization activity. To provide the advantages of standardization to common consumers, the Indian Standards Institution started operating the Certification Marks Scheme under the Indian Standards Institution (Certification Marks) Act, 1952. The Scheme, which was formally launched by ISI in 1955-56, enabled it to grant licences to manufacturers producing goods in conformity with Indian Standards and to apply ISI Mark on their products. To meet the requirements of the Certification Marks Scheme, the nucleus of a laboratory was started in 1963.
Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) came into existence, through an act of parliament, on 1 April 1987, with a broadened scope and more powers taking over the staff, assets, liabilities and functions of erstwhile ISI. Through this change over, the government envisaged building a climate for quality culture and consciousness and greater participation of consumers in formulation and implementation of national standards.
BIS operates a product certification scheme, and has till date granted more than 30000 licences to manufacturers covering practically every industrial discipline from Agriculture to Textiles to Electronics. The certification allows the licensees to use the popular ISI Mark, which has become synonymous with Quality products for the Indian and neighbouring markets over the past 50 years. Presently more than 19000 licences are in operation covering about 1000 products.