Protection and promotion of consumer's rights and interests is a vital function of the Government of any economy. It is basically a social and political necessity and is essential for all round progress of the country. In rapidly changing business environment and emerging global markets, expectations of the people of the country for better services, quality goods, availability of choices and value for money has been continuously rising. Accordingly, both public and private sectors are undertaking several policy initiatives, schemes and incentives to promote consumers' welfare in the country. They are making all efforts to ensure that consumers are provided with every relevant information in order to avoid any kind of exploitation and given a rational choice in selection of products and services from the market.
Consumers need to be made aware and educated about their existing rights, which are: (i) right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property; (ii) right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices; (iii) right to be assured, wherever possible of access to variety of goods and services at competitive price; (iv) right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer's welfare; (v) right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and (vi) right to acquire the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer throughout life. That is, there is need to generate consumer awareness on large scale about basic aspects such as maximum retail price (MRP), Hallmarking of gold jewellery, Indian Standard Institute (ISI) mark on products and expiry dates.
At the Central level, the Department of Consumer Affairs
has been set up under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
to protect the rights of consumers, promote standards of goods and services as well as for redressal of consumer grievances. It has been undertaking 'National Action Plan for Consumer Awareness and Redressal and Enforcement of Consumer Protection Act, 1986
' for consumers' protection and creating awareness among them. It is operating Consumer Welfare Fund
which aims to provide financial assistance for promoting and protecting the welfare of the consumers as well as strengthening the voluntary consumer movement in the country. The Centre for Consumer Studies (CCS)
at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA)
has been set up to facilitate in-depth action research in the area of consumer protection and education. As a part of the initiative of the Fund, the 'Scheme on Promoting Involvement of Research Institutions/ Universities and Colleges in Consumer Protection and Consumer Welfare
' is being financed and administered by CCS, IIPA. While, at the State level, initiatives with respect to consumer's welfare by promoting awareness and education among them are handled by Departments of Consumer Affairs; Departments of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Welfare; etc. which are located in various States and Union Territories (UTs) of the country.