Briefly tell us about Quality Council of India (QCI) and its activities
QCI was set up in 1997 by the Indian government jointly with industry bodies namely (ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI) with the objective of setting up of a national accreditation structure and to promote quality through our programme National Quality Campaign. The ministry of corporate affairs is our nodal ministry.
What is your system of accreditation?
Accreditation is an international requirement to set up a worldwide conformity of standards. We accredit in three models-accreditation of certifying organisations like BIS, ISO, ISI, etc; accredit schools and hospitals. In future, we also plan to rate vocational training schools.
How do you accredit hospitals and why?
Our objective is to maintain high quality in all spheres. Be it consumer satisfaction, food safety, health or education, we try to upgrade the system.
Accreditation of hospitals is one part of it. In India, public health is deteriorating because of the government’s poor attitude towards them. Even the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is not a success. We don’t value human life in India. So private healthcare is the only option left for people who can afford it. But even after paying huge sums of money, people get cheated at these institutions. Therefore, QCI started rating even these hospitals.
You recently started accrediting schools. What is the progress?
Again in schools, private players play a major role in India because people do not trust public schools, except Central schools and Navodaya Vidyalayas. So, we recently started rating schools. This would lead to better infrastructure and education. We have received a good response from schools.
How many organisations have you rated so far?
QCI has accredited around 34 certification agencies, which have rated over 18,000 organisations/companies. We have also accredited 24 hospitals and nearly 74 are in the pipeline. The schools programme was launched recently but we have received good number of applications from many schools.
Don’t you feel certifications like ISO: 9001 has lost its sheen, as it’s easily available?
Yes, we feel that ISO: 9001 has also lost its credibility because the quality of certification has been diluted. We are working with international bodies and have informed them that ISO:9001 has been diluted.
We are not campaigning against ISO:9001 but we are asking international bodies to consider a much more credible rating like QCI for businesses.
How do you plan to improve food safety standards?
A new regulator — the Food Safety and Standards Authority has been appointed and they will work along with us. We will monitor the health and hygiene standards of all eateries including restaurants and even dhabas. We have asked 50 food-testing laboratories to identify gaps in our food system. Once these gaps are identified, these testing labs will be upgraded to ISO:17025 rating and will be standard testing bodies.