Metrication in Weighing & Measuring System in India

WEIGHTS play a vital role in the Society. Normally we use it to judge the cost of products while selling or buying. During the ancient period transactions of commodities were being made either through the “Exchange” or “Barter” system which failed to satisfy the need of a common man of the Society. It laid down the foundation of a system of weighment and measurement. But every social structure/Elaka (region) period gave rise to their own system throughout the whole world which could satisfy their local needs to some extent only but failed to cope up with inter-regional/ inter-state or international trade as the world was coming closer very fastly.

The French Scientists encouraged by the revolution; assigned themselves to the task of evolving a system using nature as model and natural phenomena as guide to discourage the national/regional susceptibilities, if any. The credit goes to Talleyrand, that in 1790, the French Constituent Assembly took the initiative and entrusted the uphill task of establishing a Weighing/Measuring unit/system which may have global acceptance.

After careful examination of various reports submitted by groups of leading scientists of that era, 1/10th million part of a quadrant of the earth’s meridian was adopted as the unit of length “The Metre”. The unit of mass was derived from this unit of length by defining a “Kilogram” as equal to the mass of water at its freezing point having a volume of a decimetre (1/10th of a metre) cube.

Based on the conclusions of aforesaid observations, two physical prototype Standards of Platinum one for ‘Metre’ and other for “Kilogram” were constructed and deposited in the Archives of the French Re public in 1799. Despite the fact that the “Metric System” was the most scientific and its fractions & multiples were based on decimal system, it could not get wide range acceptance by all the advanced countries due to their own socio-political reasons. Many learned scientists of France as well as other European Countries advocated and raised their voice in favour of a uniform measuring system based on “Metric System”, the system remain dormant for several years.

In 1870 the French Government took the initiative and organized a convention in Paris which was attended by 15 countries. In 1872 another convention was held with the participation of delegates from 30 countries, 11 of whom were from American continent. Finally on 20th May 1875 a “Convention du Metre” was signed by 18 countries. The signatory states not only bound themselves with the adoption of Metric system but agreed to form a permanent scientific body at Paris. Thus Bureau International des poidsetmeansures (BIPM) came into existence. So manifest were its advantages that by 1900 as many as 38 countries adopted this system in principle. This figure was doubled in the following fifty years.

Despite having all the positive aspect this “Metric System” could not be conceived and encouraged by the then “British Rulers” of India, rather they encouraged the “Zamindars” the local rulers to develop their own system of weighment and measurement. This was nothing but the famous “Divide & Rule” policy which kept these so called local rulers separate and discourage them coming on a common platform with a common uniform sense of understanding

But this phase could not last long. The interim Govt. adopted a resolution (Resolution No. 0-1-Std (4) 45 dt. 3rd Sept. 1946) which laid the foundation of National Standards Body. The purpose of this body was “to consider and recommend to Govt. of India National Standards for the measurement of length, weight, volume and energy”.

Indian Standard Institute started functioning in June 1947. Dr. Verman, the then Director of the Institute prepared a report in which he advised to adopt the Metric System and its fractions and multiples with Indian nomenclature. Just after independence a sample survey was con ducted which revealed that at least 150 different types of weight system were in use in different parts of the country Strange to note that most of these weights were having the same nomenclature but differ in actual weight markedly For example more than 100 types of “mounds” were in use ranging from 280 “tolas” to 8320 “tolas” a piece in Weight as compared to the standard mound of 3200 tolas. This system was traditional bound and not only exploiting the illiterate people but also encouraging the way to certain known malpractices. For instance, while buying the products from the producers they use the “Seer/mound” of higher weight value where as a lower weight value of Seer/mound were used while delivering these things to the consumers. In both the cases the powerful “Trader body” was benefited. It was felt by our national leaders that unless an uniform scientific system of weighment  & measurement is adopted the interest of the producers as well as consumers cannot be fully protected which was essential for the sound economic growth of the society and the country as a whole.

To implement the uphill task for introducing a systematic and uniform way of weighment and measurement, a Central Metric Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry with several Central Govt. dept., State Govt. Scientists Technocrats, representatives from trade and industry as well as ordinary consumers as its members

After several meetings, marathon discussion and taking several aspects and arguments of different participants in consideration, the “Metric System” came into effect. A resolution was passed by both the houses of Parliament. On 28th December, 1956, it got consent of the President of India with the remarks that “An Uniform System of Weighing & Measuring in metric be introduced throughout all the states and union territories of India”

The Indian Standards Institute was entrusted to prepare the Standards of Weights & Measures & the Indian Weights & Measures Act 1956 was promulgated with the following preamble

i) To use an uniform system of Weights &Measures.

ii) To make greater order and efficiency in economic management like industrial production, trade and even in running a household.

ii) To fully protect the interest of producers and consumers.

iv) To develop trade with other countries of world.

v) To put the country on the map of matriculation in the world.

A sufficient number of enforcing officers were recruited and trained at ILM, as per provisions of the Act for better and uniform implementation of Metric system.

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Magazine: “Weights & The Society” Volume: 06 & Issue No.: 1

Logo of SWPI    Magazine: Weights & The Society (Volume: 06  & Issue No.: 1)High Denominational Weights

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                                     GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS OF METRIC SYSTEM IN INDIA

“Legal Metrology – Achievements of India and what it can offer to others.”

Article by:

Sri P.A Krishnamurthy,

Former Director, Legal Metrology, Government of India.      

INTRODUCTION:

The field of ‘Legal Metrology’ or Weights and Measures’ as is known in the common parlance, is the field where measurements are regulated by Government laws for the benefit of all stakeholders. The main object of such regulation is to ensure standardized procedures for calibration acceptable to all stakeholders, transparency in the whole procedure, and accountability of the measurement results. Continue reading “Magazine: “Weights & The Society” Volume: 06 & Issue No.: 1″