Modern Period: (1856 on words)
British units of measurement were adopted in India as first the East India Company and later colonial rule gained foothold. The Republic of India adopted the metric system on 1 April 1957. However, the traditional units still prevail in some areas. Chakrabarti (2007) holds that:
“Yet a few areas have still remained untouched by the metric system”
In the land-measuring system in India, possibly one of the most complex and archaic systems, we follow different sets of measuring units and systems in different parts of the country.
Different State governments have tried to standardise this by introducing a suitable metric system through which official transactions take place and official records are kept. But the land dealings are still done in a number of archaic units. It appears that people are satisfied and comfortable with them.
To perform unification and standardization in trade and commerce , British rule in India also tried to establish uniform standards of mass, volume and length by enacting the “The Standards of Weight and Measure Act, 1939” which came to force on July, 1942. After independence, uniform metric system and international system of units recognised by international Organisation of Legal Metrology were introduced to provide a coherent scheme through enactment of “The Standards of Weights and Measure Act, 1956” to keep pace with rapid advances in the field of science and technology all over the world. This practical system of units known as SI units evolved and has been accepted globally i.e. metre for length, kilogram for weight and second for time.
On 20th May, 1875, the Convention called ‘Metre Convention’ was signed in Paris by representatives of seventeen nations. The Convention of the Metre (Convention du Metre) is a treaty that created the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), an inter-governmental organization under the authority of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), and the supervision of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM).
With the inclusion of the BIPM and laying down the way in which the activities of the BIPM should be financed and managed, the Metre Convention established a permanent organizational structure for member government countries to act in common accord on all matters relating to units of measurements.
The Convention, modified slightly in 1921, remains the basis of international agreement on units of measurement. The BIPM now (as of 10th March, 2016) has fifty Seven Member States, 41 Associates of General Conferences, including India and all the major industrialized countries. India became a Member State in 1957.
Government of India constituted a committee to consider the changes required to be made in 1956 Act on the recommendations of International organizations. As a result of this Standards of Weights & Measures Act 1976, “The Standards of Weights & Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules,1977” and The Standards of Weights & Measures (General) Rules, 1987, came into existence. The Parliament further enacted, The Standards of Weights & Measures (Enf.) Act 1985. The ambit of the department was further extended in regulation of pre-packaged goods and standardization packaged commodities by declaring mandatory information for safeguarding the interests of consumers.
In view of rapid advancement of science & technology and globalization of economies, there had been a vast evolution in weighing and measuring techniques which extended the scope of weights & measures in other fields and hence a need was felt to re-examine the existing Acts. With the view to establish the standards of Weights & Measures and to regulate trade and commerce in Weights & Measures and other goods which are sold or distributed by weight, measure or number a new comprehensive legislation was enacted by amalgamating standard and enforcement named as “The Legal Metrology Act, 2009’ which came into force on 1-4-2011 throughout the country.