Consumer awareness by Arya Kudchadker at LexCliq

In the globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation era, most economic decisions are taken by the market. Though the government has withdrawn itself from many economic activities, it often interferes when the market mechanism fails due to structural rigidities in the economy and other factors to provide goods and services to the people.

Consumption is one of the essential economic activities, which requires regular government intervention, as the market cannot be trusted to promote the consumers’ security and welfare. But, on the other hand, consumers have to be aware of the commercial aspects of the sale and purchase of goods and the health and security aspect. Besides this, they should be mindful of their rights and duties.

Though the first consumer movement began in England after the Second World War, US President John F. Kennedy made the modern declaration about consumer’s rights in 1962. His speech against consumer harassment and for awareness spiralled many laws that dedicatedly protected the consumers’ interests. This movement upheld consumer rights, like choice, information, safety, and the right to be heard, later recognised and codified as laws.

Following several consumer associations and long campaigns in several countries, the United Nations prepared a ‘Model Code for Consumer Protection’. Finally, drawing from Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United States Consumer Bill of Rights, the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) got drafted and adopted on April 16, 1985.

These guidelines were adopted to protect consumers, establishing a high level of ethical conduct for those engaged in producing and distributing goods and services.

India also constituted the Consumer Protection Act in 1986, established against adulterated and sub-standard products. Its promulgation on December 24 is celebrated as ‘Consumer’s Day’ every year.

Objectives Of The Study
The study is based on the following objectives:

PIMR Indore Admission

To study the level of consumer awareness of the consumers in the study area
To make the students habituated about the survey work.
To make the students acquainted with how different statistical tools can be applied in different socio-economic problems.
As the name suggests, consumer awareness extends protection and knowledge for consumption. It could afford awareness to things like:

Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
Fair Price Shop.
Consumer awareness about price, quality and expiry date of the product.
certified products like ISI, Agmark, ISO-2000
In the face of blatant exploitation, duplication and cheating, consumer awareness becomes imperative. For instance, some common ways certain sellers or businesses exploit consumers include:

Underweight and under-measurement
Sub-standard quality
High prices
Duplicate articles
Adulteration and impurity
Lack of safety devices
Artificial scarcity
False and incomplete information
Unsatisfactory after-sale services
Rough behaviour
All of these are essentially a result of limited information, supply, competition and literacy. Thus its important that consumers recognise their rights and duties. The Consumer Protection Act also features a set of rights that all businesses alike must not abrogate. Including:

Right to safety
Right to choose
Right to seek redressal
Right to consumer education
Right to be heard
Right to be informed.
But rights don’t exist in silos. Thus it’s more important that to secure these rights, consumers also fulfil their duties, such as:

While purchasing goods, consumers should look at the quality of the products and the warranty of the product.
They should ask for Cash Memo for the item purchased.
They should form consumer awareness organisations.
They must complain of their genuine grievances.
They must know their rights and duties.
Consumer Protection Measures
To protect the interest of the consumers, the government has adopted three strategies that are administrative, technical and legislative:

Administrative Measures
Administrative measures of the government include the distribution of essential commodities through the Public Distribution System (PDS). Through PDS, the government distributes some essential commodities at a reasonable price through the Fair Price Shops. In a free-market economy, a commodity’s price is determined through the free play of demand and supply.

The equilibrium price is the price at which demand and supply of the commodity are equal, i.e. there are zero excess demand and excess supply.

But sometimes government interferes in the market systems by fixing the price lower than the equilibrium price to protect the interest of the consumers belonging to the lower strata of the society. This price is known as Control Price.

When the government fixes prices lower than the equilibrium price, demand exceeds supply, which leads to black-marketing and hoarding. To check these government sales different commodities at different FPS at control price.

Technical Measures
Technical measures consist of the standardisation of the product. Therefore, one of the necessary measures taken by the government to protect the consumers is the creation of institutions for setting up the standards for making and producing various products and enforcing them. In India, this has been achieved through the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Agmark. At the same time, BIS caters to industrial and consumer goods while Agmark is meant for agricultural products.

The Bureau of Indian Standards, earlier known as the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), whose headquarter is located in Delhi, is responsible for laying down industrial and consumer goods standards on a scientific basis and certifying the goods that meet the requirements standards and the prescribed quality.

The Agmark is implemented under the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act of 1937, amended in 1986. This scheme is run by the Directorate of Marketing and Intelligence (DMI) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. Products such as honey, masala etc., carry such marks.

At the international level, an institution called International Organization for Standardization (ISI), established in 1947 located in Geneva, serves to provide such a common reference standard. All the international Companies, goods produced by them, and institutions are certified as ISO 6000, ISO 14000 etc.

For setting international food standards, there is a similar body called Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). CAC got formed in 1963 by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organization(WHO) in Rome, Italy. It develops food standards, guidelines and codes for production and international trade in food products like milk, fish etc.

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