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1. Consumer Protection: Sine Qua Non For Good Governance

1.1. Consumer Awareness in India

  • As per Consumer Protection Act, 1986, “Consumer” means any person who buys or avails of

  • any service for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly

  • promised under any system of deferred payment etc. (for details refer to Section 2(1)(d) of CP

  • Act, 1986).

  • India was a pioneer in consumer advocacy with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), a path

  • breaking legislation at the time, enacted in 1986 and the establishment of a separate

  • government department dedicated to consumer affairs as early as in 1997.

  • Translating this mandate into action entails:

  • Enabling consumers to make informed choices;

  • Ensuring fair, equitable and consistent outcomes for consumers; and

  • Facilitating timely and effective consumer grievance redress


Consumer Movement & Consumer Protection

  • Consumer movement is a socio-economic movement which seeks to protect the rights of consumers in relation to the goods purchased and services availed. Government has been according high priority to better protect consumer interests.

  • The Department of Consumer Affairs, has initiated a number of steps to promote a responsible and responsive consumer movement in the country. Main objectives of Consumer Protection program are –

  • a) To create suitable administrative and legal mechanisms which would be within the easy reach of consumers and to interact with both Government and non-Governmental Organizations to promote and protect the welfare of the consumers.

  • b) To involve and motivate various sections of society including consumer organizations, women and youth to participate in the programme

  • Need for Consumer Protection

  • Increasing Awareness

  • Consumer Satisfaction

  • Principle of Social Justice

  • Survival and Growth of Business


Rights of consumers

  • 1. The Right to be heard:

  • The consumer has the right to be heard if he has any complaint or grievance regarding the good or service received. This implies that consumers’ complaints and grievances must receive due attention and consideration at an appropriate forum.

  • 2. The Right to safety:

  • The consumers are entitled to protection of their health and safety from the goods and services they buy. They should not be supplied goods or services which are hazardous to their health and safety.

  • 3. The Right against exploitation:

  • This covers right to protection from unfair trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by charging excessive prices by suppliers of goods or services.

  • 4. The Right to be informed:

  • This implies that consumers should be given correct and full information about the quality of goods that they buy. They should be provided information about the ingredients of the product, freshness of the product, any side effects that may occur as a result of consumption of a commodity. This right applies especially to the drug manufacturers and suppliers.

  • 5. The Right to choose:

  • This implies that consumers should be provided a variety of products from which they can make a choice of their liking. The opportunity to choose from limited options restricts their right to choose.

  • 6. The Right to get redress:

  • This implies that consumers’ complaints and grievances about the products and services supplied to them must be redressed. That is, they should not only be heard but their complaints must be redressed and compensated adequately.

  • In India, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 was passed which was later amended in 2002, wherein most of the consumer rights have been provided and mechanism for redressal of their complaints have been put in place.


2. Consumer Protection In India: Genesis And Recent Developments

2.1. Consumer Protection Act, 1986

  • One of the most important milestones in the area of consumer protection /consumer movement in the country has been the enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This Act was enacted to better protect the interests of consumers by creating a mechanism for dispute resolution exclusively for consumers. It is one of the most progressive and comprehensive piece of legislations creating an exclusive three-tier quasi-judicial consumer disputes redressal machinery at the National, State and District levels.

  • a) The Act enshrines six rights of consumers namely, Right to Safety; Right to be informed; Right to choose; Right to be heard; Right to seek redressal & Right to consumer education.

  • b) The provisions of the Act are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.

  • c) It is an umbrella legislation covering goods & services, but excluding transactions involving consumers from the purview of the Act.

  • d) A consumer can seek redressal against any manufacturer and trader of goods/service provider, so long as the goods purchased or service availed of was for a consideration.

  • e) The Act provides for simple, inexpensive and timely redressal of consumer complaints.

  • f) The provisions of the Act are not only compensatory in nature but also preventive and punitive in character.

  • g) The Act provides for establishing three-tier consumer dispute redressal machinery at the National, State and District levels commonly known as National Commission, State Commission and District Forum respectively.

  • h) The Act also provides for setting up of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central, States & District level, which are advisory bodies to promote and protect the rights of the consumers.


Consumer Protection Bill, 2015

  • With a view to modernize the legislation on consumer protection to keep pace with the changes in markets, to ensure fair, equitable and consistent outcomes for consumers and to enable swift executive intervention in the nature of class action both to prevent consumer detriment and to provide redress to a class of consumers, it was proposed to carry out comprehensive amendments to the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by way of a fresh Bill and repealing of the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986.


Highlights of the Bill

  • A. The Bill replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Bill enforces consumer rights, and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defect in goods and deficiency in services.

  • B. Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions will be set up at the district, state and national levels for adjudicating consumer complaints.

  • C. The Bill establishes a Consumer Protection Authority to investigate into consumer complaints, issue safety notices for goods and services, and pass orders for recall of goods and against misleading advertisements.

  • D. If a consumer suffers an injury from a defect in a good, he may file a claim of product liability against the manufacturer. The consumer must establish seven conditions in order to prove such a claim.

  • E. The Bill classifies six contract terms as ‘unfair’. These cover terms such as (i) payment of excessive security deposits; (ii) disproportionate penalty for a breach ; (iii) unilateral termination without cause; (iv) one which puts the consumer at a disadvantage.


Key Issues and Analysis

  • A. The Bill empowers the central government to supervise the functioning of, and issue binding directions to the district, state and national consumer redressal commissions. This could affect the independence of these quasi-judicial bodies.

  • B. The District Commission, a quasi-judicial body, may be headed by a District Magistrate, who is part of the executive. This could violate the principle of separation of powers between the judiciary and executive.

  • C. The National Commission, headed by a judicial member and comprising at least 15 technical or judicial members, will examine complaints on questions of law. This could contradict a Supreme Court judgment that questioned the competence of such technical members.

  • D. In order to claim product liability, a claimant must establish four kinds of defects in the product, the injury caused from it, and that it belonged to the manufacturer. The claimant must also establish that the manufacturer had knowledge of such a defect. It may be argued that the conditions to establish a product liability claim are unreasonable.

  • E. The Bill defines product liability to include defects in goods and deficiency in services. However, the conditions to be proven to claim product liability do not include conditions for services. It is unclear how a consumer can claim product liability for deficiency in services under the Bill.


Effort B

  • In a significant development, the Union Cabinet in the last week of December cleared the Consumer Protection Bill 2017, which will now be tabled in Lok Sabha during the current Winter Session. As per news reports, here are some of the features of the new Consumer Protection Bill:

  • 1) For the first time, India will have a Central Consumer Protection Authority, which will act as a national regulator for the protection of consumer rights. Designed along the lines of the United States Federal Trade Commission, this agency will have the power to take suo moto action against companies indulging in unfair trade practices to the detriment of consumers.

  • 2) Reports indicate that the bill will introduce class action lawsuits to India, which means that a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action, can sue the company as a group. If the verdict goes in their favour, all consumers in the group stand to benefit.

  • 3) In the event of a consumer suffering from injury, death or damage resulting from any defect in the product as a result of faulty manufacturing, construction, design, testing, packaging and labelling, among other facets of the production process, the manufacturing company will be held liable.

  • 4) One of the key new features of the bill are provisions dealing with disputes that pertain to online purchase. At present, the law isn’t clear on refunds or dispute settlement for online shoppers. Moreover, under the present law, a consumer can only proceed with legal action against a seller only at the place where the transaction in question is said to have occurred. If the new bill passes, the consumer can file a complaint electronically or at the consumer court closest to his/her residence.

  • 5) The new bill also has provisions that subscribe hefty penalties and jail terms for adulteration and misleading advertisements by companies. Moreover, celebrities found to endorse such advertisements are liable to pay a hefty fine, endure a ban on any endorsement and even suffer a jail term.

  • “On misleading ads, the bill provides for fine and ban on celebrities. In case of the first offence, the fine will be up to Rs 10 lakh and a one-year ban on any endorsement. For the second offence, the fine will be up to Rs 50 lakh and up to three years’ ban,” says this report by the Press Trust of India.

  • For manufacturers, the penalty is a Rs 10 lakh fine and a two-year jail term for the first offence. Repeat offenders will suffer fines up to Rs 50 lakh and a five-year prison term, the PTI report adds. Adulteration, meanwhile, could incur a life-term jail sentence.

  • 6) In a bid to deter consumers from filing false or frivolous complaints, the bill seeks to raise the penalty from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000.


Schemes for Strengthening Consumer Protection


  • The scheme of ‘Computerization and Computer Networking of Consumer Fora in the country, (CONFONET)’ aims to digitalise the functioning of the Consumer Fora at all the three tiers throughout the country to enable access of information and quicker disposal of cases.

  • Has provided an ICT solution for efficiency, transparency, systemizing of working and egovernance at the consumer fora for speedy delivery of information to the consumers

  • The registration of complaints, recording of proceedings, issue of notices, generation of cause lists, recording of judgments, record-keeping and generation of statistical reports etc. are carried out through the Case Monitoring application software which has been developed and implemented by NIC to facilitate entry of consumer cases online in the consumer fora.

  • INGRAM: An Integrated Grievance Redress Mechanism (INGRAM) portal was launched for bringing all stakeholders such as consumers, Central and State Government Agencies, private companies, regulators, Ombudsmen and call centers etc. on to a single platform. The portal will help in creating awareness among consumers to protect their rights and inform them of their responsibilities. Consumers can register online their grievances through this portal. The National Consumer Helpline is accessible now through this portal.


GAMA: Govt. has launched a portal named Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (Consumer Advocacy)

  • Mobile Application and Short code: As value added services, a mobile application and easy to remember five-digit short code 14404 have been launched for consumers from across the country to access National Consumer Helpline.

  • Smart Consumer Application: The Department in association with GSI India has launched a mobile application “Smart Consumer” to enable the consumer to scan the bar code of the product and get all details of the product such as name of the product, details of manufacturer, year and month of manufacture, net content and consumer care details for making complaint in case of any defect.

  • Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC): The Centre aims to provide for a state-of-the-art infrastructure for resolving consumer disputes both through physical as well as online mediation through its platform.

  • Innovative technology for consumers and organisations to manage and resolve conflicts and to propel online mediation as a first choice to resolving consumer disputes.

  • This is an innovative tool that affords consumers better access to justice, through quick and easy redressal mechanism, and at the same time provides opportunity for businesses to maintain good customer relations.


Consumer Grievance Redress

  • Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism has been set up in the country to adjudicate complaints filed before them and to provide speedy redress to consumers.

  • The Act is intended to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal to the consumers grievances.

  • On March 15, 1962, President John F. Kennedy presented a speech to the United States Congress in which he extolled four basic consumer rights, later called the Consumer Bill of Rights.

  • 1. The right to safety

  • 2. The right to be informed

  • 3. The Right to Choose

  • 4. The right to be heard


Expansion to eight rights

  • 1. The right to satisfaction of basic needs

  • 2. The right to redress

  • 3. The right to consumer education

  • 4. The right to a healthy environment

  • March 15: Celebrated each year as World Consumer Rights Day.

  • A. "Consumer protection" is in line with the government's resolve of building a 'New India'

  • B. Government would formulate a new stricter consumer protection law to crack down on misleading advertisements and see that grievances are redressed in a time-bound and cost-effective manner.

  • C. In India, around 2,500 years ago, during the period of Kautilya, there were guidelines for the government on how trade should be regulated and the interest of consumers protected. The posts in the organisational structure in the Kautilya period may be considered as Director of Trade and Superintendent of Standards in today’s context.

  • D. It was mentioned in Atharva Veda that nobody should be involved in malpractices of quality and measurement.

  • E. Effective grievance redressal systems are vital for a democracy and, therefore, the government is integrating technology to ensure stronger grievance redressal mechanisms.


3. Justice Delivery For Low Income Consumers

  • okAdalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum wheredisputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably.

  • Public Interest Litigation is directly filed by an individual or group of people in the supreme court. It is a new legal horizon in which court of law can initiate and enforce action to serve and Secure significant Public Interest

  • INGRAM:-The Department of Consumer Affairs has launched the portal an integrated Grievance Redress Mechanism (INGRAM), Thisportal will also help in creating awareness among consumers to protect their rights and inform them of their responsibilities. Consumers can register online their grievances through this portal.

  • GAMA:-This website has been launched by the Department of Consumer Affairs to create awareness about misleadingadvertisements and serve as a central registry for lodging complaints against misleading advertisements.

  • Online dispute resolution (ODR) is a branch of dispute resolution which uses technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties. It primarily involves negotiation, mediation or arbitration, or a combination of all three. In this respect it is often seen as being the online equivalent of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).[1] However, ODR can also augment these traditional means of resolving disputes by applying innovative techniques and online technologies to the process.

  • Smart Consumer Application:-Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, and Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) via this app provides consumers in India access to product labelling information required under Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011, and FSSAI license information.Simply scan the product barcode and get access to manufacturing details and many more.

  • Online Consumer Communities:-The platform will serve as a communication channel for the Dept. of Consumer Affairs to create awareness about issues that affect consumers. The live community will help consumers in addressing their grievances with brands and companies.

  • Consumer organizations are advocacy groups that seek to protect people from corporate abuse like unsafe products, predatory lending, false advertising, astroturfing and pollution. Consumer organizations may operate via protests, litigation, campaigning, or lobbying.

  • Legislative Initiatives of India towardsProtection of Consumer

  • Consumer Protection Act, 1986

  • Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986(Replaces Indian Standards Institution Act,1951)

  • Setting up of Department Of Consumer Affairs, 1991

  • Consumer Welfare Fund, 1992

  • Establishment of Competition Commission of India

  • Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

  • Introduction of Consumer Protection Bill, 2015

  • Centre for Consumer Studies

  • The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution, GoI, has established a dedicated Centre for Consumer Studies (CCS) at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi. The Centre operates within the legal framework of the IIPA and the policy directions of the Monitoring Committee chaired by the Secretary, CA, GoI. The role of the Centre is both operational as well as promotional. Centre for Consumer Studies (CCS) at Indian Institute of Public Administration aims to perform, facilitate and promote better protection of Consumers’ rights and interests with special reference to rural India.


4. Keeping Pace With Technological Dynamics

4.1.Flaws In The Consumer Protection Act 1986

  • Presently, the position is that only those services come within this Act for which specific payment is made, such as electricity, telephones, banking, etc. Thus the doctors as well as hospitals including those where treatment is given free such as government hospitals do not come within the ambit of the Act. Also, the mandatory civil services, such as sanitation, water supply, etc. provided by the State or local authorities are not covered by the Act.

  • Further, the consumer Protection Act, 1986, does not give any definition of safety requirements and permitted hazard levels. Whatever safety regulations are prescribed under some law or the other would have to gone into as to whether they have been violated or not. In fact, the Act itself should incorporate certain product safeties requirements.

  • Absence of regulatory mechanism:-The Act does not empower the Consumer Redressal Forums to take up cases suo motto.

  • Delays:- The Act specifies a time frame within which the dispute is to be disposed of. The period specified is 90 days, but the actual time taken is much longer. In some cases, the complainants waited for about two years, attended the Consumer Courts several times before they were formed that the Courts would not be able to handle their cases.

  • Dismal performance of Consumer Courts:-

  • Complex Procedure

  • Slow process of justice

  • Delays in appointment of members

  • No capacity building for newly recruited

  • Not suitable for rapid advances in digital technology:-

  • ATM card skimming :- ATM skimming is like identity theft for debit cards: Thieves use hidden electronics to steal the personal information stored on your card and record your PIN number to access all that hard-earned cash in your account.

  • Credit card cloning :- Credit card cloning, or "skimming" as it is sometimes called, is a technique whereby someone obtains your credit card details, copies them onto a bogus card and begins using the credit card. While credit card theft itself is not new, the manner in which the information is stolen is still not clear to many people.

  • Online frauds

  • Identity thefts.

  • Consumers are also being made aware through the “Jago Grahak Jago” campaign.

  • Development of any country and consumer protection are complementary. Good governance has an important role in taking the benefits of development to every citizen.

  • Ensuring delivery of rights and services to the deprited by the government is also a way of protecting interests.

  • Ujjwala Yojana for Clean Energy, Swacch Bharat Abhiyan for health and hygiene, Jan Dhan Yojana for Financial Inclusion reflect this spirit.

  • Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna has been launched to provide affordable medicines to the poor. More than 500 medicines have been included in the list of essential drugs and their prices have been reduced. Recently, prices of knee implants have also been brought under control.

  • Our thinking is to move beyond Consumer Protection to promotion of Consumers Interest.

  • Ujala is another example of monetary saving in Consumer Interest. The scheme alone has caused saving of more than Rs. 20 thousand crores for consumers by reducing the cost of LED bulb and through reduction in electricity bills.

  •  Under the Direct Benefit Scheme, by transferring the money directly into the beneficiaries’ bank accounts the government has prevented leakage of more than Rs. 57 thousand crores.

  • Under Give-it-up campaign, more than one crore people have given up their gas subsidy. The savings thereon have been used in giving free gas connections to 3 crore households so far.

  • Government is implementing Prime Minister Rural Digital Literacy Campaign for Digital Empowerment of Consumers living in rural areas of the country.

  • Unified Payment Interface-UPI has given the e-commerce industry a lot of strength. Bharat Interface For Money – i.e. BHIM App has expanded digital payments in cities as well as in rural areas.

  • E-commerce and trans-border mobility of people is resulting in increased cross border transactions. Under these circumstances, a strong regulatory system in every country and information sharing is a must for sustaining consumer confidence.


5. Consumer Inclusion In Financial Services

  • United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection 2016

  • Financial services Member States should establish or encourage, as appropriate:

  • (a) Financial consumer protection regulatory and enforcement policies;

  • (b) Oversight bodies with the necessary authority and resources to carry out their mission;

  • (c) Appropriate controls and insurance mechanisms to protect consumer assets, including deposits;

  • (d) Improved financial education strategies that promote financial literacy;

  • (e) Fair treatment and proper disclosure, ensuring that financial institutions are also responsible and accountable for the actions of their authorized agents. Financial services providers should have a written policy on conflict of interest to help detect potential conflicts of interest. When the possibility of a conflict of interest arises between the provider and a third party, that should be disclosed to the consumer to ensure that potential consumer detriment generated by conflict of interest be avoided;

  • (f) Responsible business conduct by financial services providers and authorized agents, including responsible lending and the sale of products that are suitable to the consumer's needs and means;

  • (g) Appropriate controls to protect consumer financial data, including from fraud and abuse;

  • (h) A regulatory framework that promotes cost efficiency and transparency for remittances, such that consumers are provided with clear information on the price and delivery of the funds to be transferred, exchange rates, all fees and any other costs associated with the money transfers offered, as well as remedies if transfers fail.


6. Consumer As Co Protector  In Health Services

  • Directly related to consumers in health services

  • The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

  • The HIV/AIDS Act, 2017

  • The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

  • The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994

  • The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Food (Regulation of Production,

  • Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992

  • The Consumer Protection Act, 1986

  • The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954

  • The Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940

  • Consumers at broader level

  • The Competition Act, 2002

  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986

  • The Prevention of Black Marketing Act, 1980

  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955

  • The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955

  • The Fruits Product Order, 1955

  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955

  • The Agricultural Product Act, 1937

  • The Sales of Goods Act, 1930

  • The Indian Contracts Act, 1872


The Clinical Establishment (registration and regulation) Act, 2010:

  • This act aims to ensure that all clinical establishments meet basic minimum standards, are registered with the authorities and follow the standard treatment guidelines, amongst many others.


State specific regulations on clinical establishments:

  • Regulation of healthcare facilities, costs of procedures and mechanisms for penalties for violations of such provisions.

  • The Drug (Price Control) Order (DPCO), 2013: This order was issued by the Indian government under the essential commodities act, 1995 and in suppression of the drug price control order of 1995.


The Way forward

  • Adopting a broader and holistic approach: An approach which has a blend of

  • (1) making consumers aware of their rights, giving due considerations to the complexities of health services and related outcomes and

  • (2) making consumers aware of their duties. Alongside, a third component of ‘health education’ has to be an integral part of the process. In other words, an appropriate blend of ‘consumer awareness’4, ‘health education’5 and ‘health literacy’6 can lead to consumer protection in health sector as well as better/improved health outcomes in India.


7. Gst Impact On The Consumers

  • IMPACT ON THE CONSUMERS What are the impacts of GST on consumers?

  • Footwear costing more than Rs. 500 attracted a GST rate of 18 percent from an earlier rate of 14.41 percent rate but rates for the footwear below Rs. 500 was reduced to 5 percent. So, one needed to shell out more for buying a footwear above Rs. 500.

  • With respect to the readymade garments it has been reduced to 12 percent from an existing 18.16 percent which would make them cheaper. This is a major relief for the trendy youth or a fashionable youth.

  • Taking taxi rides like Ola and Uber have become cheaper because it has been reduced from existing 6 percent to 5 percent slab.

  • The effective tax rate for the railways has increased from 4.5 percent to 5 percent in GST. But the Input tax credit can be availed for business trips and it will reduce the expenses.

  • Under the GST, tax rate for economy class for flight tickets is set at 5 percent and for business class at 12 percent. But the business class trips can avail the Input tax credit so it becomes cheaper to travel and in turn it promotes airways.

  • Movie tickets costing below Rs.100 will be charged a GST rate of 18 percent but prices above Rs.100 are charged with 28 percent. So movie goers particularly in the western and northern part of India are worst affected as the ticket prices ranges from Rs.175 to Rs.300.

  • The premium amounts on insurance policies are to rise and an immediate impact can be seen on one's term and endowment policy premia as the rates have been increased under GST across Life, Health and General insurance.

  • GST impact on your returns from mutual funds investments will largely be marginal as the GST will be charged on the Total Expense Ratio of the mutual fund.

  • Investment in Gold has become slightly expensive because there is a 3 percent GST on gold and 5 percent on making charges and the earlier tax rate was 2 percent.

  • Under construction properties will be cheaper than ready to move in properties. The GST rate for an under construction property is 18 percent but the effective rate on this kind of property which will be around 12 percent due to the input tax credit of the builder will avail of, financial experts claim.

  • The impact on education and health sectors for the consumers is nil as both these were kept out of the ambit of the GST implementation.

  • The staying in low budget hotels will be cheaper as there is no GST for the rent below 1000 rupees but the 3 star and 5 star hotel stays are to become costlier as the GST slab is 28 percent.

  • The buying of cars will be cheaper as the GST rate is 28 percent irrespective of the make, dimensions and engine capacity.

  • People have to pay more amount to their phone calls as they have to pay the tax rate at 18 percent when compared to the earlier tax rate of 15 percent.

  • Eating out with families in weekends will be less costlier than compared before as the rates are reduced to 5 percent.

  • Popular sports events like IPL now attract a GST of 28 percent when compared to earlier 20 percent and because of this rise the ticketing costs will rise and it affects the sports fans.

  • The GST rate for events like art festival, theatre festival and folklore festivals now attract 18 percent which is less when compared to earlier 20 percent which promotes these kind of events indirectly.

  • DTH connections or money paid to cable operators should reduce a bit as the tax rate is 18 percent when compared to earlier varying rates from 10 -30 percent in addition to 15 percent service tax.

  • The tickets to the amusement parks will now rise as the rate of tax has been hiked from earlier 15 percent to 28 percent under the GST structure.

  • The daily consumable items like milk, vegetables, cereals, fruits are exempted from the GST and it will have a very great impact on the consumer end.      


8. Educating The Rural Consumer

  • Rural consumer's income is on the rise, enabling more of them to buy products and services that improve the quality of their lives.

  • The monthly per capita spending among the rural consumers increased 17 percent between FY10 to FY12, higher than 12 percent which is for urban consumers.

  • Disposable incomes has gone up and fuelled aspirations thus resulting in a change in buying preferences.

  • Spending on non food items rose from 40 percent of the total spend in FY 2005 to more than 50 percent in FY 2012.

  • There has also been a shift in the awareness levels of the rural consumer and the increased media penetration has played a vital role in rural India's values and attitudes.

  • The rural markets, which were earlier ignored by most of the big international market players, are now being seen having great business opportunity.

  • Though, the consumers in India have been provided with various safety measures against their exploitation, still the sellers and producers are hoarding and black marketing and essential goods, resorting to economic corruption and frequently cheating the consumers.

  • Rural markets are full of substandard goods and duplicity of branded goods is another major problem in rural areas.

  • The expansion service sectors like Insurance, banking, electricity etc., without any checks and balances are utilised to exploit the consumers in rural areas by service providers.

  • Due to entry of large number of players in the rural market and also due to stiff competition there are large number of misleading advertisements in the print and electronic media resulting in the exploitation of rural consumer.


The way forward

  • The media has a greater role and responsibility towards the vulnerable sections of the society including the rural consumer.

  • There are no effective sanctions against the misleading advertisements. The GOI has to setup a regulatory mechanism to penalise the media which portrays misleading advertisements.

  • The same media should be used to proto the consumer awareness by the GOI and media advertising policy should be formed to regulate the advertisements in media.


Jago Grahak Jago campaign

  • The Government carries out a multi-media “Jago Grahak Jago” campaign on Pan-India basis covering both rural and urban areas through print, electronic and outdoor media.

  • Grants-in-aid are also released to States/UTs for creating consumer awareness in the respective States/UTs at local level in their regional languages so as to further ensure that the campaign reaches the rural and backward areas of the country.

  • This campaign must be effectively utilised to promote the consumer rights and awareness.


Tackling Adulteration

  • In 1986, the GOI had amended the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and authorised every citizen to become a food inspector and participate in the task of food safety.

  • But this information is little known to the consumers and this kind of information must be promoted by voluntary organisations, community radio, Television etc.,

  • FSSAI also must take measures to contain the food adulteration as many rural consumers unaware of food adulteration may intake and can lead to health hazards.


Creating awareness through IT and internet :

  • 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' (PMGDISHA) was launched to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate.

  • The outlay for this project is Rs.2,351.38 crore to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March,.2019. This is in line with the announcement made by Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2016-17.

  • PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world. Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19.

  • To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates.

  • Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc.), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc. and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building.


Panchayati Raj institutions

  • To reach the level of rural consumers, it is imperative to involve the Panchayati Raj institutions not only in educating consumers but also ensuring that fake and spurious products are not sold in the rural market.

  • These institutions can play a meaningful role in consumer welfare and this has been recognized by the policy makers


9. Quality Assurance For The Consumer

  • What is the need for Quality assurance?

  • India has a large population which creates a large market to every manufacturing and marketing organisation.

  • The developing nature of the country and the multi economic strata population make it have for organisation of all types.

  • There is a need for consumers to be proactive to protect themselves and for the government to develop measures to protect the consumers.

  • What institution was made to assure quality of products?

  • Over seventy years ago, Indian standards institution was set up under the Societies Registration Act 1860, as the National Standards Body of India.

  • With the economy and industry growing leaps and bounds, the Indian Standards Institution was rechristened as the Bureau of Indian Standards, in 1987 through BIS Act 1986.

  • BIS has been providing traceability and tangibility benefits to the national economy in a number of ways - providing safe reliable quality goods; minimizing health hazards to consumers; promoting exports and imports substitute; control over proliferation of varieties etc. through standardization, certification and testing.

  • Keeping in view, the interest of consumers as well as the industry, BIS is involved in various activities as given below:

  • Standards Formulation

  • Product Certification Scheme

  • Compulsory Registration Scheme

  • Foreign Manufacturers Certification Scheme

  • Hall Marking Scheme

  • Laboratory Services

  • Laboratory Recognition Scheme

  • Sale of Indian Standards

  • Consumer Affairs Activities

  • Promotional Activities

  • Training Services, National & International level

  • Information Services


BIS Product Certification Scheme

  • The Product Certification Scheme of BIS aims at providing Third Party Guarantee of quality, safety and reliability of products to the customer.

  • Presence of ISI certification mark, known as Standard Mark, on a product is an assurance of conformity to the specifications.

  • The conformity is ensured by regular surveillance of the licensee's performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn both from the market and factory.

  • The manufacturer is permitted to self certify the licenced products after ascertaining its conformity to the Standard.

  • Through its surveillance operations, the Bureau maintains a close vigil on the quality of certified goods.

  • Although, the scheme itself is voluntary in nature, the Government of India, on considerations of public health and safety, security, infrastructure requirements and mass consumption has enforced mandatory certification on various products through Orders issued from time to time under various Acts.

  • While BIS continues to grant licences on application, the enforcement of compulsory certification is done by the notified authorities.

  • Hallmarking is the accurate determination and official recording of the proportionate content of precious metal in precious metal articles.

  • The principle objectives of the Hallmarking Scheme are to protect the public against adulteration and to obligate manufacturers to maintain legal standards of fineness.

  • In India, at present two precious metals namely gold and silver have been brought under the purview of Hallmarking.

  • As Hallmarking

  • per this scheme, licence is granted to the jewellers by BIS under Hallmarking Scheme.

  • The BIS certified jewellers can get their jewellery hallmarked from any of the BISrecognized Assaying and Hallmarking Centres.

  • The recognition of an Assaying and Hallmarking Centre is done against IS 15820:2009.


Compulsory Registration Scheme

  • Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has notified "Electronics and Information Technology Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2012" on 3 Oct 2012 for fifteen categories of electronics items. Another 15 product categories were added by MeitY under this order on 13 Nov 2014.

  • As per the Order, no person shall manufacture or store for sale, import, sell or distribute goods which do not conform to the Indian standard specified in the order.

  • Manufacturers of these products are required to apply for registration from Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) after getting their product tested from BIS recognized labs.

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) then registers the manufacturers under its registration scheme who are permitted to declare that their articles conform to the Indian Standard (s).

Yojana December 2017

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