Adulteration is the process of mixing pure and impure products in order to attain profits. It causes financial and health loss to consumers.
Conditions in which markets do not work in a fair manner :
(i) When producers are few and powerful.
(ii) When consumers purchase in small amounts.
(iii) When consumers are scattered.
(iv) When large companies have a monopoly in the production of goods as they have huge power of wealth, and high influencing approach and can manipulate the market in various ways.
(v) By passing on false information through media and other sources to attract consumers.
Factors which gave birth to the consumer movement in India are :
(i) In India, the consumer movement as a social force originated with the necessity of protecting and promoting the interest of consumers against unethical and unfair trade practices.
(ii) Rampant food shortages, hoarding, black marketing, adulteration, the malpractices of food and edible oil gave birth to the consumer movement in an organized form in the 1960s.
(iii) Till the 1970s, consumer organisations were largely engaged in writing articles and holding exhibitions.
Limitations of the Consumer Movement
(i) It is cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming.
(ii) Evidences are not easy to gather.
(iii) Existing laws are not clear.
(iv) Lack of consumer awareness.
There are rules and regulations regarding consumer protection but they are often not followed.
(i) Consumers purchase in small quantities and are scattered.
(ii) Producers are few and powerful.
(iii) There is a lack of adequate monitoring.
Consumers are exploited in the market place in the following ways :
(i) Weigh less than what they should.
(ii) Traders add charges that were not mentioned before.
(iii) Traders sell adulterated or defective goods.
(iv) False information is passed through the media and other sources to attract consumers.
Consumer awareness among consumers to avoid exploitation
(i) The formation of various organizations such as consumers forum or consumers protection council.
(ii) To guide consumers on how to file cases in the consumers courts.
(iii) Consumer’s education to be promoted through advertisement/mass campaign/publicity/against malpractices of traders.
(iv) By writing articles/ holding exhibition/rallies.
(v) Strict laws to be enforced in market places.
Goods and services which should be available under the Right to Information (RTI) are
(i) Ingredients used in the product.
(ii) Date of manufacture.
(iii) Expiry date (upto which date can be used)
(iv) Address of the manufacturer.
(v) Directions for proper use.
Right to Seek Redressal :
(i) Consumers have the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices and exploitation.
(ii) If any damage is done to a consumer, he has the right to get compensation depending on the degree of damage.
(iii) There is a need to provide an easy and effective public system by which this can be done.
While buying purchasing medicine, the following precautions should be taken :
(i) Price, batch no., date of manufacture.
(ii) Address of the manufacturing company.
(iii) Expiry date.
(iv) Directions of proper use.
(v) Information relating to side effects and risk associated with usage of that medicine.
Consumers have the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices and exploitation.
(i) One can go to district level consumer court which deals with claims upto 20 lakhs.
(ii) Various consumer forums or consumer protection councils can be contacted for guidance and help.
(iii) Under COPRA, a three-tier quasi-judicial machinery at the district, state and national levels was setup for redressal of consumer disputes.
Functions of the consumer protection council or consumer forums are :
(i) To guide the consumer on how to file cases in the consumer court.
(ii) To represent the individual consumer in the consumer court.
(iii)These voluntary organisations also receive financial support from the government creating awareness among the people.
The consumer has the following rights:
(i) Right to be informed: A consumer has the right to know the important information about the goods and services he purchase.
(ii) Right to choose: A consumer has the right to buy goods and services of his choice.
(iii) Right to seek redressal: A consumer has the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices and exploitation.
COPRA is a short term for Consumer Protection Act. It was passed by the government of India in 1986 on 24th December for the protection of consumer’s rights and since then this day is celebrated as Consumers’ Day in India.
Consumer Protection Act 1986, a major step taken in 1986 by the Indian government was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, popularly known as COPRA.
(i) It applies to all goods and services.
(ii) It covers all sectors, i.e., private, public and cooperative.
(iii) It gives rights to consumers.
Established consumer protection councils at centre and state levels. Under COPRA, three-tier quasi-judicial machinery at district, state and national levels was set up for redressal of consumer disputes. The Act has enabled the consumers to have the right to represent in the consumer courts. The enactment of COPRA has led to the setting up of separate departments of consumer affairs in central and state governments.
The rationale behind the enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 are :
(i) To make consumers aware of their rights.
(ii) To punish those who indulge in malpractices and exploit the consumers.
(iii) To see that traders don’t indulge in anti-social activities such as hoarding and black-marketing.
Duties of the consumers are :
(i) While purchasing the goods, a consumer should look at the quality of the product, the marked price, guarantee or the warranty period.
(ii) A consumer should preferably purchase standardized products which contain the seal of ISI or the AGMARK.
(iii) A consumer should preferably purchase standardised products which contain the seal of ISI or the AGMARK.
(iv) A consumer must be aware of his rights and duties.
(v) The consumer should form consumer awareness organisations, which can be given representation
(vi) He should know the method to get redressal if cheated.
The consumer redressal process is becoming cumbersome, expensive and consuming:
(i) Awareness of consumers is necessary to realize their role and importance.
(ii) Cash memo should be obtained and preserved by the purchaser.
(iii) The existing laws should be very clear on the issue of compensation to consumers.
(iv) Enforcement of laws that protect workers especially in the organized sectors should be strong.
(v) Rules and regulations for working of markets should be followed strictly.
(vi) It requires a voluntary effort and struggle involving the participation of one and all.
24th December is observed as National Consumers’ Day in India. The importance of this day is :
(i) Consumer Protection Act was enacted on this day.
(ii) India has exclusive courts for consumer redressal. About 700 consumer groups are working in India. However, the consumer redressal process is becoming cumbersome, expensive and time–consuming.
Duplicate articles and adulteration cause heavy loss to the consumers in the following ways :
(i) Duplicate articles such as duplicate medicines may cause life risks for the consumers.
(ii) Duplicate articles and adulterated goods cause financial loss to the consumers and leave them unsatisfied.