Critically examine the progress of the consumer movement in India.

Reasons for Rise of Consumer Movement – India

Exploitation of consumers in the marketplace happens in many ways, which are mentioned below:

  • Additional charges on goods imposed by traders that were not mentioned earlier.
  • Traders selling adulterated or defective goods.
  • Traders use faulty weights to cheat the customers.
  • A very protracted battle was fought in courts against the cigarette manufacturing companies, to make them accept that their products were highly likely to cause cancer among its users.

Factors Behind Exploitation of Consumers

  • The Main factor behind exploitation of consumers is – the producers are very powerful and few in number, whereas the consumers are scattered and buy the products in small numbers.
  • Huge companies have the capacity to manipulate the market, through false information passed on to the media.
  • The other factor behind exploitation is the shift in the blame whenever customers are cheated. If there is a problem with the goods or services availed by the consumer then the trader will blame the producer and not solve the problem of the consumer.

Due to many unfair practices that were being practised by the sellers, there was massive dissatisfaction among consumers. This ultimately led to the rise of the consumer movement in India. With the aim of promoting and protecting the interests of consumers against unfair trade and unethical trade practices, the consumer movement originated as a ‘social force’ in India.

Consumer Movement – Rising Awareness, Making Informed Decisions by Consumers 

  • To become a conscious consumer, they need to become a well-informed consumer.
  • If consumers want to make informed decisions and develop the ability to discriminate while purchasing services and goods, it is important that consumers become conscious and aware of their rights.
  • A well-informed consumer needs to have the necessary skills and acquire the required knowledge.
  • The consumer movement in India took the shape of an organised form in the 1960s due to adulteration of food and edible oil, black marketing, hoarding and rampant food shortages.
  • Consumer organisations were largely engaged in holding exhibitions and writing articles till the 1970s.
  • Consumer groups were formed to look into the overcrowding in the road passenger transport and to look into the malpractices in ration shops.
  • An upsurge in the number of consumer groups was witnessed in India, more recently.
  • Consumers would have noticed Government TV advertisements to create awareness among consumers.
  • Consumers would have come across Government advertisement posters which spread awareness and information about the legal process available for consumers to protect their rights.
  • Consumers while purchasing different products in the market will come across products having a cover with a logo of ISI, Hallmark or Agmark.
  • Consumers while purchasing the services and goods will be assured of quality when they buy things having the above mentioned certifications and logos.

Result of Consumer Movement – India

  • A seller cannot sell the product at a price higher than Market Retail Price (MRP).
  • If the seller sells the product at a price higher than the MRP, the consumer has the right to protest.
  • While buying a product, the consumer has the right to be informed about the date of manufacture, address of manufacturer, batch number, ingredients used and the price.
  • Sellers cannot force you to buy any product.
  • To protect the consumers from exploitation in the marketplace a legal system had not existed.
  • Due to the continued efforts, the Government was forced to bring in legislation to protect the consumers from unfair business practices.
  • The Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1986. It was a major step taken by the Government of India to protect the rights of the consumers.
  • Separate departments of Consumer Affairs were established in state and central governments after enacting the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA).
  • For redressal of consumer disputes, the Government set up a quasi judicial system consisting of three-tiers at the national, state and district levels as per the provisions given under COPRA.

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