A new era in consumerism
"Consumerism" is likely to dominate the Indian market in the next Millennium, thanks to the economic reforms ushered in and the several agreements signed under the World Trade Organisation. The transition will be from a predominantly "sellers market" to a "buyers market" where the choice exercised by the consumer will be influenced by the level of consumer awareness achieved. By "consumerism" we mean the process of realising the rights of the consumer as envisaged in the Consumer Protection Act (1986) and ensuring right standards for the goods and services for which one makes a payment. This objective can be achieved in a reasonable time frame only when all concerned act together and play their role. The players are the consumers represented by different voluntary non-government consumer organisations, the government, the regulatory authorities for goods and services in a competitive economy, the consumer courts, organisations representing trade, industry and service providers, the law-makers and those in charge of implementation of the laws and rules.
Consumer Protection Act
The issues relating to consumer welfare affects the entire 986 million people since everyone is a consumer in one way or the other. Ensuring consumer welfare is the responsibility of the government. Accepting this, policies have been framed and the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, was introduced. A separate Department of Consumer Affairs was also created in the Central and State Governments to exclusively focus on ensuring the rights of consumers as enshrined in the Act. This Act has been regarded as the most progressive, comprehensive and unique piece of legislation. In the last international conference on consumer protection held in Malaysia in 1997, the Indian Consumer Protection Act was described as one "which has set in motion a revolution in the fields of consumer rights, the parallel of which has not been seen anywhere else in the world."