Globalization and Protection of Consumer Rights in India
Posted: 8 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 8, 2009
Consumerism is a movement or policies aimed at regulating the products or services, methods or standards of manufacturers, sellers and advertisers in the interest of buyers, such regulation may be institutional, statutory or embodied in a voluntary code occupied by a particular industry or it may result more indirectly from the influence of consumer's organizations. The principle of ‘Caveat emptor’ relieved the seller of the obligation to make disclosure about the quality of the product. In addition, the personal relation between the buyer and seller was one of the major factors in their relations. But with the growth of trade and its globalization the rule no more holds true. It is now impossible for the buyer to examine the goods before hand and most of the transactions are concluded by correspondence. Further on account of complex structure of the modern goods, it is only the producer/seller who can assure the quality of goods. With manufacturing activity becoming more organized, the producers/sellers are becoming stronger and organized whereas the buyers are still weak and unorganized. In the age of revolutionized information technology, Internet and with the emergence of e-commerce & m-commerce related innovations the consumers are further deprived to a great extent. As a result buyer is being misled, duped and deceived day in and day out.
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation, very rightly held that “A Consumer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us we are on him. He is not an interruption to our work; he is the purpose of it. We are not doing a favor to a consumer by giving him an opportunity. He is doing us a favor by giving an opportunity to serve him.” Inspite of these views consumerism is still in its infancy in our country, thanks to the seller's market and the government monopoly in most services. Consumer awareness is low due to the apathy and lack of education among the masses. No one has told them about their rights - to be informed about product quality, price, protection against unsafe products, access to variety of goods at competitive prices, consumer education etc. What consumers lack here are education and information resources, testing facilities, competent leadership, price control mechanism, and adequate quasi-judicial machinery. The providers of goods and services have been reluctant to give due consideration to consumer interest protection.
Some business in India have come together to adopt a code of conduct for regulating their own activities. Regulation of business through legislation is one of the important means of protecting the consumers. Consumerism has over the time developed into a sound force designed to aid and protect the consumer by exerting legal, moral and economic pressure on producers and providers in some of the developed countries. The success of consumerism lies in the realization of the business that there is no substitute for voluntary self-regulations. Little attention from the business will not only serve consumers interest but will also benefit them. The best possible solution is that the Consumers must be aware of their rights, join voluntary Consumer organizations, raise voice against exploitation and seek redress of their grievances in time.
Keywords: Consumerism, caveat emptor, voluntary organisations, consumer associations
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