India has been observing 24 December as National Consumers’ Day. It was on this day that the Indian Parliament enacted the Consumer Protection Act in 1986. India is one of the countries that have exclusive courts for consumer redressal. Let us know more about consumer rights.
The consumer movement in India has made some progress in terms of a number of organized groups and their activities. There are today more than 700 consumer groups in the country of which only about 20-25 are well organized and recognized for their work.
However, the consumer redressal process is becoming cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming. Many a time, consumers are required to engage lawyers. These cases require time for filing and attending the court proceedings etc. In most purchases cash memos are not issued hence evidence is not easy to gather. Moreover, most purchases in the market are small retail sales.
The existing laws also are not very clear on the issue of compensation to consumers injured by defective products. After 20 years of the enactment of COPRA, consumer awareness in India is spreading but slowly. Besides this the enforcement of laws that protect workers, especially in the unorganized sectors is weak.
Similarly, rules and regulations for working in markets are often not followed. Nevertheless, there is scope for consumers to realize their role and importance. It is often said that consumer movements can be effective only with the consumers’ active involvement. It requires a voluntary effort and struggles involving the participation of one and all.
LEARNING TO BECOME WELL-INFORMED CONSUMERS
When we as consumers become conscious of our rights, while purchasing various goods and services, we will be able to discriminate and make informed choices. This calls for acquiring the knowledge and skill to become a well-informed consumer.
How do we become conscious of our rights?
To take care of consumer’s rights, COPRA came into existence. The enactment of COPRA has led to the setting up of separate departments of Consumer Affairs in central and state governments. You might have seen advertisements on television channels regarding consumer’s awareness, all these initiatives are taken by departments of Consumer Affairs
ISI and Agmark
While buying many commodities, on the cover, you might have seen a logo with the letters ISI, Agmark, or Hallmark. These logos and certifications help consumers get assured of quality while purchasing the goods and services.
The organizations that monitor and issue these certificates allow producers to use their logos provided they follow certain quality standards. Though these organizations develop quality standards for many products, it is not compulsory for all the producers to follow standards. LPG cylinders, food colors, and additives, cement, packaged drinking water.