IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th July, 2024 Economy


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  • The National Test House (NTH), historically under the Consumer Affairs Ministry, is set to become India's foremost certification authority for all products.
  • This strategic overhaul aims to address recent setbacks where Indian exports, particularly food, spices, and organic products, faced rejections abroad due to quality concerns.

National Test House (NTH)

  • Established as the Government Test House, NTH has been operational since 1912 in Calcutta, initially founded by the Railway Board to fulfil the needs of Indian Railways through local production.
  • Its headquarters are located in Kolkata, serving as a pivotal link between industrial research and the manufacturing of finished products.

Functions of NTH

  • Testing and Evaluation: NTH conducts comprehensive tests on materials, products, equipment, modules, systems, and sub-systems across various industries, except pharmaceuticals and arms & ammunitions.
  • Calibration Services: It provides calibration services for electrical and non-electrical measurements to ensure accuracy and reliability.
  • Welders Certification: NTH offers certification for welders to ensure their competence and compliance with industry standards.
  • Standardization Assistance: NTH supports the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in formulating national standards crucial for product quality and safety.
  • Accreditation Support: It assists the National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL) in accrediting testing and calibration labs across the country.
  • Modern Laboratory Systems: NTH is developing a state-of-the-art scientific laboratory system to enhance user accessibility and testing efficiency.
  • Digital Integration: The introduction of a fully digital Laboratory Management Information System (LIMS) streamlines operations and improves service delivery.
  • Consumer Accessibility: Consumers can conveniently send samples via courier from any part of the country for testing purposes.
  • Specialized Testing Facilities: NTH includes specialized facilities such as a microbiology laboratory at its Guwahati branch, focusing on testing drinking water and spices.
  • Infrastructure Development: In support of the Gati Shakti initiative, NTH has established a "Transformer Testing Facility" in Jaipur, Rajasthan, to ensure the reliability and efficiency of transformers used in infrastructure projects


Establishment of NTH Labs

  • Nationwide Network: The plan includes setting up a comprehensive network of NTH labs across the country. These labs will serve as hubs for conducting rigorous testing and issuing final certifications.
  • Certification Scope: NTH labs will cover a wide range of products, ensuring they meet stringent global standards. This encompasses not only traditional goods but also emerging sectors like drones and electrical goods.

Operational Timeline and Priorities

  • Speedy Implementation: The government aims to complete the establishment and operationalization of these labs within the first 125 days of its tenure.
  • This swift action is prioritized for regions where there's a critical need for certification infrastructure.

Certification Process Enhancement

  • Mandatory Certification: Regulatory agencies can mandate manufacturers to obtain an NTH certification, particularly for products under scrutiny for quality.
  • Direct Access: Manufacturers will have direct access to NTH labs. This direct engagement aims to pre-emptively ensure compliance with international standards, potentially averting export rejections.

Global Trade and Credibility

  • The role of NTH extends beyond domestic assurance; it will also serve to validate samples that have failed tests in international markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and the US.
  • This validation aims to restore and enhance confidence in Indian exports globally.

Certifying Authority and Re-validation

  • Certifications issued by NTH labs will hold definitive authority.
  • This will enable companies and regulatory bodies to seek re-validation of product quality with confidence in NTH's impartial testing.

Comparative Analysis with Current Practices

  • Presently, various Indian agencies like the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), APEDA, and FSSAI conduct product testing and certification.
  • However, the absence of a centralized apex body for re-testing failed samples leaves a gap that NTH aims to fill effectively.

Technological Integration and Advancements

  • NTH labs will adopt cutting-edge testing protocols aligned with international benchmarks.
  • This technological integration is crucial for ensuring the seamless export of goods, especially in technologically intensive sectors like drones and electrical equipment.

Expanded Responsibilities

  • Besides product certifications, NTH's expanded role includes testing drones and utilizing its scientific expertise to evaluate data related to agricultural insurance schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
  • This multifaceted approach underscores NTH's pivotal role in both industrial and agricultural sectors.


  • The transformation of NTH into India's apex certification body signifies a robust step towards elevating the country's product quality assurance framework.
  • By centralizing certification processes and aligning with global standards, NTH aims to safeguard Indian exports' reputation and competitiveness in the global marketplace.
  • This initiative not only bolsters consumer confidence domestically but also reinforces India's image as a reliable producer of high-quality goods internationally.


Q. Under which ministry does the National Test House (NTH) historically operate?

a) Ministry of Science and Technology

b) Ministry of Commerce and Industry

c) Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

d) Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

Answer b) Ministry of Commerce and Industry