Here's to better consumer rights

Yesterday, Mumbai’s Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) celebrated its golden jubilee year at its office in SoBo. The milestone was marked in a meaningful way — in pursuit of the national goal to clean power, a solar power project was inaugurated on the occasion at the office.

While the solar power project is one of the more responsible ways to mark a golden jubilee, what is important is that 50 years is a time to introspect, reflect, and pave the way forward for consumer rights. It is an important date, but one that must propel the movement forward.

One must acknowledge that it is creditable to sustain an organisation for 50 years and it is also heartening to see that more and more individuals are coming forward to fight for their rights on the consumer front. But the country has many miles to go when it comes to taking on companies and organisations.

The first stumbling block is a lack of awareness. Consumers still do not know whom to approach if they are cheated by a company whose product is defective or if it does not live up to specifications. Then, of course, is the belief that individual versus corporation is an unequal battle.

Consumer rights organisations have upped the ante of late, and we have all seen advertisements on bus stops urging consumers to fight for their rights. More importantly, there are also helpline numbers and guidelines on what consumers should do. This is a welcome step.     

Even in the so-called progressive Maharashtra, the number of people who complain is still miniscule. Advertising, awareness, and information about the avenues individuals can tap for their pursuit of rights — these are absolute essentials. That you can get your due, is a message that must be reinforced by highlighting successful consumer cases.   
Let 50 be a springboard to fewer consumers wronged and better consumer rights. ‘Consumer is king’ should  not just be an empty phrase, but have real credence.

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