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World Consumer Day

  • Category
    Governance
  • Published
    31st Mar, 2020

March 15 is celebrated as the World Consumer Rights Day throughout the world. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India observed this day by organizing a webinar on this year’s theme, ‘The Sustainable Consumer’. 

Context

March 15 is celebrated as the World Consumer Rights Day throughout the world. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India observed this day by organizing a webinar on this year’s theme, ‘The Sustainable Consumer’. 

About:

  • The consumer movement marks 15th March with World Consumer Rights Day every year, as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. 
  • Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.
  • In India, National Consumers Right Day 2019 is observed on December 24 annually.

 

Who is a Consumer?

  • As per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, a person who buys any goods or avails a service is a consumer.
  •  The definition, however, does not include a person who buys a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purposes.

Historical background:

  • The idea of World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy. On March 15 1962, President John F Kennedy sent a special message to the US Congress formally addressing the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so.
  • World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on 15th March 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights.
  • He was the first world leader to do so.
  • On April 9, 1985, the United Nations approved the general guidelines for consumer protection. In the year 1983, the first celebration of World Consumer Rights Day was marked.
  • Since then, this day (World Consumer Rights Day) is celebrated annually on March 15.

Why this Theme ‘The Sustainable Consumer’

  • The growing population and the way people consume goods could pose problems to our
  • The United Nations Development Programme indicates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food go to waste annually, while about 2 billion people go hungry or are undernourished. Another 2 billion people are overweight or obese.
  • Also, statistics estimate that up to 700 million people will be displaced by 2030 due to water scarcity, while 30 per cent to 40per cent of all food produced worldwide is lost or wasted, placing an unnecessary strain on the environment.
  • Further, publications on Science Advances indicate that approximately more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated to date. Unfortunately, only nine per cent of the plastic waste has been recycled, while 12 per cent has been incinerated.
  • The rest is located in landfills, dumpsites and the environment, with a significant amount washing up ashore, spit out by saturated oceans and seas after choking marine life.
  • If all people in the planet continue this pattern, Earth may not be sustainable at all because we will need two more planets to do that.
  • On some parts of the planet however, about 1 billion people do not have access to decent quality and life because they live in extreme poverty.
  • To protect our planet and give humanity and its future generation's fair social conditions they need, we should now think about how we produce and consume goods services.
  • This year's theme aims to increase efficiency and fair trade while helping to assuage poverty and for the people to enjoy a quality life with complete access to basic commodities such as food, water, medicine, and energy.

Challenges:

  • Sustainable productshave an increasing demand from younger consumers with 81% of the respondents thinks that companies should be helping to improve the environment.
  • Recently, Nestle had just announced that it is planting 3 million trees to help combat climate change; Microsoft and Amazon have also pledged to take action in reducing carbon emissions.
  • But according to some studies, using sustainable products-like stainless steel straws, reusable silicone plastic sandwich bags, or reusable produce bags- could be a little pricey than their non-sustainable counterparts.
  • In general, it is not easy to only use these types of products because it requires effort for the consumer's part to do research and to find the right purchase, type of behavior, or requires more money to be spent.

What are the consumers rights in India?

  • In India, consumer rights were protected under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, before the act was replaced by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • According to the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the definition of consumer rights is 'the right to have information about different aspects of a good or service such as its quality, quantity, potency, purity, price and standard.'
  • In the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the lawmakers had defined six basic consumer rights:
    • Right to safety:Consumers are protected against marketing of goods and services that are hazardous to their life and property. It lays emphasis on the quality of goods and services.
    • Right to be informed: Consumers have right to be informed about quality, quantity, content, purity, regulatory standards and prices of goods and no such information should be intentionally hidden from them.
    • Right to choose:Whenever possible, consumers should be given access to a variety of goods and services at different prices.
    • Right to be heard:Consumer's interests should be heard and taken into account. They have the right to form organisations that will represent them in all related matters.
    • Right to seek redressal: Consumers have the right to seek redressal against unfair practices and exploitation.
    • Right to consumer education:Consumers have the right to acquire knowledge in order to become an informed consumer.
  • These rights form the bases of consumer protection in India. Additionally, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 had introduced five new consumer rights:
  • Right to file a complaint from anywhere
  • Right to seek compensation under product liability
  • Right to protect consumers as a class
  • Right to seek a hearing using video conferencing
  • Right to know why a complaint was rejected

Other important Regulation protecting Consumers:

  • The Contract Act 1872:It binds people on their promises made in a contract and also provides remedies available to parties in case of breach of contract.
  • The Sale of Goods Act 1930:It provides safeguard and relief to customers in case goods are not complying with the expressed conditions and warranty.
  • Competition Act, 2002:Under the Act, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established to prevent the activities that hurt competition in India. It aims to implement and enforce competition policy and to prevent and punish anti-competitive business practices by firms and unnecessary Government interference in the market.
  • Bureau of Indian Standard Act 2016:The Act establishes BIS as the National Standards Body of India. It aims to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate of conformity.

Significance of the day:

  • This day serves as an annual occasion undermining the rights of consumers is equal to social injustice.
  • It raises awareness about consumers’ rights, needs and obligations, and how to seek restitution in cases where those rights are infringed upon.
  • The day signifies the demanding that, consumer rights are to be respected and protected.
  • Moreover, the recognition of consumer rights help to protect the consumers and to make sure that they are not subjected to social injustice and market abuse that may undermine their rights as a consumer.

Conclusion:

The World Consumer Rights Day emphasizes the significance of consumer rights and protection as well as the need for sustainable consumption globally. It is an annual occasion observed worldwide to protect the consumers and to make sure that they are not subjected to social injustice and market abuse that may undermine their rights as a consumer.

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