Consumer Movement in India


Consumer Movement (UPSC Indian Polity)

Have you ever heard about the concept of consumerism? What is it? And how it came into existence? Why was this movement initiated in the country? And what were the impacts? Well, this article is all about solving your queries regarding this particular topic. But before knowing about the movement let us know more about who is an actual consumer? And who is a customer? However, the customer is the buyer of the product but may not be the end user of the product, unlike the consumer.

A consumer is basically an individual or group of individuals that consumes or uses the product for end use purpose or for final consumption. The terms consumer and customer are always used interchangeably.

Consumerism is basically an umbrella term which comprises of the following:

  1. Consumer protection.
  2. Consumer education.
  3. And consumer awareness.
  4. And consumer movement.

According to Philip Kotler – Consumerism is a social movement and government agencies to improve the buyers rights and powers in relation by sellers.
Consumerism is basically directing the market now to be a buyer’s market instead of being a sellers market and earlier the consumers were more of unorganized then of being organized and hence there was no powerful and effective consumer organization working in the favor of the rights of the consumers

Following are the rights of the consumers:

  1. Right to choose.
  2. Right to safety.
  3. Right to be informed.
  4. Right to be heard.
  5. Right to redress (complain)
  6. Right to consumer education.
  7. Right to Basic needs.
  8. Right to the healthy and safe environment.

The consumer movement had got a struck shot when there was a separate department of consumer affairs was set up by the central government under a cabinet Minister. The state government has also set up a department of consumer affairs. But eventually the exact date of the movement that began in India was in 1966 and it was with setting up a consumer guidance society of India that year consumer movement popularly known as consumerism is a movement started to protect the consumers against the malpractices and injustice. And it is a social movement to fight for the protection of the consumers and their rights.

A brief chronological account of historical development of consumerism is as follows:

1) In 1958 . the Indian standard institute organized a convention at new Delhi . as per the resolution passed at the convention , the consumer association of India was established in 1959.
2) In 1966 , the consumer guidance society of India was formed in Mumbai with the object to protect consumers against rising the prices of essential commodities . in the same year , council for fair business practices was formed by leading Industrialists LIKE J.R.D tata and others.
3) The Indian consumers Union was established in 1971 , the activists of this union include offering legal advice, testing facilities arranging lectures and seminars.
4) The consumer education and research center were formed in 1978 at Ahmedabad to guide and protect consumer rights.
5) Consumer cooperative societies like- Grahak panchayat and government employee consumer stores etc make their purchases directly from producers and sell them at a reasonable rate to the members.
6) The Saha Kari bazaar in urban areas has made a great contribution in protecting consumer interest.
7) The newspapers like times of India also contributes In India is very slow due to several reasons such as the illiteracy of Indian consumers, general attitude of the public , lack of active support from political parties and other members of the society only in urban areas like Mumbai , Delhi Calcutta etc the consumer movement is gaining some prominence. There is hardly any consumer movement in rural areas.

Despite comprehensive and statutory measures of consumer grievances and redressals agencies the consumer protection councils are fully effective consumer protectives still a distant goal. In order to make a strong and a healthy consumer movement in India, much remains to be done and legalization and government agencies alone will not be the end to take this initiative it should also be from our end . There is a terrible need for a person to be proactive and be aware of the consumer affairs. And the business must also be self-regulated of their trade practices and support the consumers in all possible manner they can by the way of effective enforcement of their respective code of conduct.

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