Question 1. Why are rules and regulations required in the marketplace? Illustrate with a few examples.
Answer 1 There are several chances of exploitation of the consumers in the marketplace. The various ways through which consumers may be exploited are— sometimes traders indulge in unfair trade practices such as when shopkeepers weigh less than what they should or when traders add charges that were not mentioned before or when adulterated/defective goods are sold. In such circumstances, rules and regulations are required for the protection of the consumers in the marketplace.
Question 2. What factors gave birth to the consumer movement in India? Trace its evolution.
Answer 2 In India, the consumer movement originated as a social force with the necessity of protecting and promoting the interests of consumers against unethical and unfair trade practices. Rampant food shortages, hoarding, black marketing, adulteration of edible oil gave birth to the consumer movement in an organised form in 1960s. Till the 1970s, consumer organisations were largely engaged in writing articles and holding exhibitions. They formed consumer groups to look into the malpractices in ration shops and over-crowding in the road passenger transport. This movement succeeded in bringing pressure on business firms as well as government to correct business conduct. Finally, a major step was taken by the Indian government in the form of enactment of COPRA in 1986. India has been observing 24 December as National Consumers’ Day as it was on this day that COPRA was enacted in 1986.
Question 3. Explain the need for consumer consciousness by giving two examples.
Answer 3 (a) The need for consumer awareness was felt when traders and manufacturers began to indulge in unfair practices such as they began to charge high prices, sell adulterated goods, weight less than what they should, etc.
(b) The need for consumer awareness was felt with high intensity when some corrupt traders began to play with the health of the people by indulging in adulteration of edible oils, milk, butter, ghee etc.
Question 4. Mention a few factors which cause exploitation of consumers.
Answer 4 Factors causing exploitation of consumers
(a) Limited information: Consumers are quite ignorant of their rights and duties.
(b) Limited supply: In case the supply of goods is less than demand, prices go high. The traders take advantage of this situation. They begin to hoard those items. This leads to the exploitation of the consumers.
(c) Low literacy or awareness: Consumers usually lack the knowledge to judge different kinds of things. Adulterated or low-quality goods have less production costs, and if the consumer is unaware or illiterate, it is easy to cheat him/her. Often, when the consumers do not check the retail price of a commodity on its packing, sellers add extra charges to the same. In places where there is no awareness of consumer rights and the COPRA, consumer exploitation is uncontrolled. Also, shopkeepers brush off their responsibility by claiming that the manufacturer is to blame. Consumers feel helpless in this situation.
(d) Limited competition: Markets do not work in a fair manner when producers are few and powerful whereas consumers purchase in small amounts and are scattered. This happens when large companies are producing these goods. These companies with huge wealth and power can manipulate the market in various ways. This also leads to the exploitation of the consumers.
Question 5. What is the rationale behind the enactment of Consumer Protection Act 1986?
Answer 5 . COPRA is a short term for Consumer Protection Act, which 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. This Act was passed to bring pressure on business firms as well as government to correct business conduct, which may be unfair and against the interest of the consumers at large.
Question 6. Describe some of your duties as consumers if you visit a shopping complex in your locality.
Answer 6. If customers want their rights they should also observe the following duties: 1. After a purchase we must insist on cash memo. 2. While purchasing goods we must be careful about the quality of goods as well the guarantee of products and services. 3. We should buy certified goods—ISI, AGMARK etc. 4. Consumers should form Consumer Awareness Organisations in their localities to help and aware others. 5. Consumers must know their rights and must exercise them too.
Question 7. Suppose you buy a bottle of honey and a biscuit packet. Which logo or mark you will have to look for and why?
Answer 7. While buying a bottle of honey or a biscuit packet, the logo or mark one will have to look for is ISI or Agmark. These are logos and certifications which help consumers get assured of quality while purchasing goods and services. Only those producers are allowed to use these marks who follow certain quality standards set by the organisations issuing these certifications. Thus, if a bottle of honey or a biscuit packet has one of these logos on it, then it implies that the product is of good quality.
Question 8. What legal measures were taken by the government to empower the consumers in India?
Answer 8. Legal measures taken by the government to empower consumers in India are plenty. First and foremost is the COPRA that came into existence in 1986. Then, in October 2005, the Right to Information Act was passed, ensuring citizens all information about the functioning of government departments. Also, under COPRA, a consumer can appeal in state and national courts, if his case has been dismissed at the district level. Thus, consumers have the right to represent themselves in consumer courts now.
Question 9. Mention some of the rights of consumers and write a few sentences on each.
Answer 9 . 1. Safety is everyone’s right: While using many goods and services, we as consumers, have the right to be protected against the marketing of commodities and delivery of services which are hazardous to life and property. Producers need to strictly follow the required rules and regulations. There are many goods and services that we purchase require special attention to safety. For example: pressure cookers have a safety valve which if defective can cause accident. LPG gas cylinder should be sealed and leak proof.
2. Right to be informed: When we buy a commodity, we find details given on the packing. These details are about ingredients used, price, batch no., date of manufacture, expiry date and address of the manufacturer. We have right to be informed about these information, so that consumers can complain and ask for compensation or replacement in case a product proves to be defective. These days this right has been expanded to cover various services provided by the government. In October 2005, the Government of India enacted RTI (Right to Information) Act, which ensures its citizens all the information about the functions of government departments.
3. Right to choose: Any consumer who receives a service in whatever capacity, regardless of age, gender and nature of service, has a right to choose whether to continue to receive the service.
4. Right to seek redressal: Consumers have this right against unfair trade practices and exploitation. If damage is done to the consumer, he or she has the right to get compensation depending on the degree of damage.
5. Right to represent: COPRA has enabled us to have the right to represent in the consumer courts.There are various organisations locally known as Consumer Forums or Consumer Protection Council. They guide consumers on how to file cases in the consumer courts. They also receive financial support from the government to create awareness.
Question 10. By what means can the consumers express their solidarity?
Answer 10 Consumers can express their solidarity by forming consumer groups that write articles or hold exhibitions against traders’ exploitation. These groups guide individuals on how to approach a consumer court, and they even fight cases for consumers. Such groups receive financial aid from the government to create public awareness. Participation of one and all will further strengthen consumer solidarity.
Question 11. Critically examine the progress of consumer movement in India.
Answer 11. The consumer movement in India has made some progress in terms of numbers of organised groups and their activities. There are today more than 700 consumer groups in the country of which, unfortunately only about 20-25 are well organised and recognised for their work. However, the consumer redressal process is becoming cumbersome, expensive and time consuming because many a time, consumers are required to engage lawyers. These cases require time for filing and attending the court proceedings etc. In most purchases cash memos are not issued hence evidence is not easy to gather. Moreover most purchases in the market are small retail sales. The existing laws are also not very clear on the issue of compensation to consumers injured by defective products. Filing cases, attending court proceedings, hiring lawyers, and other procedures make it cumbersome.
Question 12. Match the following:
Question 13. Say True or False.
(i) COPRA applies only to goods.
(ii) India is one of the many countries in the world which has exclusive courts for consumer redressal.
(iii) When a consumer feels that he has been exploited, he must file a case in the District Consumer Court.
(iv) It is worthwhile to move to consumer courts only if the damages incurred are of high value.
(v) Hallmark is the certification maintained for standardisation of jewellery.
(vi) The consumer redressal process is very simple and quick. (vii) A consumer has the right to get compensation depending on the degree of the damage.