Consumer is the person who purchases the goods and services for his self-consumption including the use of the goods for his self occupation. Consumerism means the welfare of the consumers by safeguarding their rights by giving required protection to them from restrictive trade practices and unfair trade practices, and also from the goods/Services injurious to them, and to save them from the economic exploitation by the well organised and trained sellers/traders/manufactures of goods and services.
Consumerism devotes a thorough safeguard for the consumers from all sorts of malpractices and exploitative deeds of market operators. Consumer has to be protected from evils like unfair trade practices, adulteration, spurious and injurious manufacturers, black marketing, price hike, overcharging, misguidance by false advertisement, misuse of trade marks and patents, non-labelling and mis-labelling, duplications and similar other deceitful market practices. Technically, consumerism refers to protection against duping of the consumer by the selling and distribution agencies in the market, protection against the sale and supply of bad, substandard and duplicate consumer products in the market, non-supply or short-supply of consumer goods, unwarranted and excessive pricing and false and mis-leading advertisement camouflaging the truth.
Consumerism describes the shift in American culture from a producer-oriented society in the 19th century to a consumerist society in the 20th century. Changes in domestic demographics and advances in industrialization, manufacturing, transportation, and communication all contributed to the change. Consumerism also contributed greatly to the liberal thrust of the progressive era and spawned a long-running trend of consumer advocacy and consumer protection legislation.
The ideology of consumer protection came into full focus in the 1960s after President John F. Kennedy introduced the Consumer Bill of Rights, which stated that the consuming public has a right to be safe, to be informed, to choose, and to be heard. The primary concern of this force is the fulfil and protect the rights of consumers articulated by President Kennedy more than four decades ago.
The International Organisation of Consumers Unions (IOCU) which formed in 1960 is an organisation which deal with inter-governmental organisations and National Governments IOCU has contributed substantially by defining consumer protection beyond the concern of private consumer, such as, to include the availability, quality and safety of goods and services available to the general public. This broad approach to the concept leads to economic and social development and education of basic consumer rights in the developing countries.
International Organisations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIDO, WHO, ILO, FAO, WIPO, UNCTAD, WTO have done good work relating to consumer protection.
However, there is no international law of consumer protection which exists but united efforts of the international agencies will promote the development of such public international law dealing with consumer protection.
India is one of the developing countries. It suffers with several drastic problems, such as unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, over-population etc. The majority of consumers are poor and illiterates. They do not know their rights. They could not organise themselves against the unfair trade practices. As a result the organised business people have been exploiting the unorganised illiterate consumers.
In India the Constitution provides rights to its citizens and the Governments enacted a number of Acts such as,
- The Sales of Goods Act, 1930
- The Indian Contract Act, 1872
- The Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937
- The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940
- The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954
- The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
- The Essential Commodities Act, 1955
- The Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968
- The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1968
- The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976
- The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986
- The Competition Act, 2002
To protect the rights of consumers, yet they could not yet successful in giving adequate protection to ordinary consumers. The provisions of these Acts under the umbrella of rigid bureaucrats and administrators and no help or protection was rendered to the ordinary consumers. Under these circumstances the Indian Parliament had enacted, The Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This Act is not overriding other Acts aforementioned. It is in addition to them. It gives simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal of consumer grievances.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 recognised the Doctrine of Caveat Venditor. This Act also incorporated medical services within the radius of the Consumer Forums and Councils. The consumer has become the sovereign of the goods and services. The 15th March is celebrated as the Consumer Day every year throughout the world.
By the implementation of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, consumer a has been developed in entire India. Consumer societies and organisations are formed in the villages, towns and capitals. The consumer began to question, claim the rights for the quantity and quality of the goods and services. Now the Consumer Movements has separated in entire world including India very rapidly and successfully.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge