By: Prof. Sarfraz Ali Quadri (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 13th Oct 2021
Without Standards, there can be no improvements” - Taiichi Ohno
What if I tell you that there is a common factor between centuries old Egyptian Pyramids constructed before christ, 18th Century French Revolution and your day today decision making and that is STANDARDS but what are standards and why do we celebrate World Standards Day?
Let’s dive in further to find some answer. The world we are living in today revolves around this simple word; may it be your school's mathematics test or your favorite car or the IPL cricket franchise of your liking. We always make our decision based on some forms of measurement because our knowledge of anything comes from our ability to measure it precisely and measurement is incomplete without standard. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Standards as “something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality etc.” where as it can also be defined as,
“Standards are the scientifically proven and universally accepted known quantities which is used to measure unknown quantities”
So whenever you are making any form of decision making, you are measuring your decision with the help of well defined standards, like choosing your favorite sports car based on its speed standards or measuring your cricket pitch to 22 yards. Standards are everywhere; we cannot imagine a world without standards. The time in Hour we use to measure our work hours, or the length in Kilometer to reach your home, or the temperature of your body all of these are nothing but Standards of some kind.
Humans are using the standards right from the start as one of the first documented standards known to humankind is at least 5000 years old i.e. The Royal Egyptian Cubit, which was supposedly used during the constructions of Pyramids of Egypt. When constructing the pyramids, thousands of stones of different shapes and sizes needed to be cut from multiple quarries and they must be fitted together meticulously.
But it was a very difficult task because if the stones are not proportionate to each other this could not have worked on such a large scale and that is why they came up with The Royal Egyptian Cubit which was defined in terms of distance of Pharaoh’s Forearm from his fingertips to his elbow. This was their primary reference and later construction workers could then refer this primary cubit against their wooden cubit rods for further operations.
Although we have been using these standards for such a long time, these were considered non-scientific in nature as it would change from country to country. The inception of scientific standards as we know today can be traced back to the first “Meter Convention” held on 20th May 1875 just after the French Revolution. During which it was decided to develop universally accepted standards which will remain constant throughout the globe and down the line on 14 October 1946, delegates of 25 countries came together in England and made the decision of creating an international organization with the prime objective of developing, facilitating and promoting universal standardization. A year later in 1947, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) officially came into existence with 67 technical committees consisting of groups of experts focusing on a specific subject. Later in 1970, ISO decided to celebrate the first World Standards Day to promote awareness about the importance of standards in society. To commemorate our rich history of standards, every year on the 14th day of October, 166 member countries of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) celebrate World Standards Day. The day is celebrated as a tribute to the synergetic endeavors of the entire community of scientists & technical experts worldwide that invent, innovate, and integrate standards of highest quality that are published as International Standards for the benefit of the entire world. So next time whenever you check your watch for an exact time or you celebrate winning a cricket match by only a few runs let us be grateful for standards.
Illustration of the Royal Egyptian Cubit
(Photo Source: http://www.raebear.net/bible-study/book-studies/exodus/sidebars/the-cubit/)
(Author is Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering of Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College (JNEC) which is constituent college of MGM University, Aurangabad)