Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India organised ‘Consumer Empowerment Week’ from 14th to 20th March 2022 to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The celebrations coincided with World Consumer Rights Day, which falls on March 15.
On the opening day of the celebration, field units of organisations under the Department such as Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Indian Institute of Legal Metrology (IILM) Ranchi, National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF), National Test House (NTH) and Regional Reference Standards Laboratories (RRSLs) organised consumer awareness programmes in 90 villages of 23 states and union territories. These programmes created awareness about salient features of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Indian Standard marks, Hallmark, CRS mark, details to be seen on pre-packaged commodities, use of proper weights and measures and use of National Consumer Helpline (NCH) for lodging consumer complaints. These programmes were attended by a large number of rural people. In some instances, members of local administration and other influencers also attended the programmes. A month-long quiz competition was also launched on MyGov to raise awareness on consumer rights and initiatives undertaken by the department.
The field units of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Indian Institute of Legal Metrology (IILM) Ranchi, National Test House (NTH) and Regional Reference Standards Laboratories (RRSLs) organised various activities during the week. For example, visits of students and the general public were organised to the labs of these organisations to make them aware of the available testing facilities and demonstrating some of the tests. Counters were set up in various places and leaflets were distributed to create awareness on consumer rights. Meetings with general public, government bodies, industry and health workers were organised so that a wide gamut of stakeholders may be made aware of the issues which concern the consumers. Nukkad Natak (street play) and cleanliness drive were organised to create consumer awareness. These events were attended by a large number of participants. In some instances, members of local administration and other influencers also attended the programmes.
On March 15, 2022, the department celebrated World Consumer Rights Day. An event was organised in New Delhi and the theme was ‘Fair Digital Finance’.
Speaking at the event, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; Textiles; and Commerce & Industry, said effective enforcement of laws is necessary to protect consumer interest and encourage high-quality products and services, but legal provisions should not be used to harass small businessmen and traders. Goyal shared instances of actions being taken by the Department of Consumer Affairs against misleading advertisements. He said that action was taken against a toothpaste company claiming to be World’s No. 1. Similar action was taken against another company claiming to have sold out the stock within no time. Goyal also talked about the quality standardisation work being undertaken by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) mentioning that hallmarking has provided consumers with the long-due right to quality, purity and transparency.
Speaking on the occasion, Nandan Nilekani pressed on the need for changing with the changing digital platforms and highlighted that with the increasing complex digital protocols, one has to be prepared for more complex consumer redressal methods which requires a wholesome approach by the Government. In this regard, he highlighted the need to redesign the consumer dispute redressal mechanism taking into consideration artificial intelligence and making use of speech to speech, speech to text and text to speech open platforms to make the online dispute resolution mechanism available in multilingual format. He highlighted that today’s digital transactions are multi-party and hence the resolution of such disputes have multi-party requirement. With the growth in scale and speed of digital finance at a never seen like before pace, India should usher in a new era of consumer redressal and make sure that every Indian gets access to easy consumer redressal.
Minister of State for Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Rural Development, Sadhvi Nirajan Jyoti in her keynote address underlined that digital technology and new business models are completely changing our ability to reach poor and excluded households with financial services. Government has always strived to bring greater financial inclusion and this is well reflected in the increase in transactions through UPI to recipients of various Covid relief programmes. She urged that combined efforts should be made in making digital finance, more sound, safe and secure for consumers.
Department of Consumer Affairs in collaboration with Invest India organised a 2-day seminar on e-Commerce and the Digital Consumer on 16th and 17th March 2022. A series of panel discussions were conducted in association with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), bringing together key players from eight core segments of e-commerce in India, in line with the Governments efforts towards consumer protection and ease of doing business. These discussions were spread across various segments of e-commerce, including beauty, health and wellness; food retail and FMCG; entertainment and education; and online payments.
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