Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 266

Reflections on

Reflections on Consumer Protection : Case Studies


INDIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Consumer Protection
The Indian Institute of Public Administration, established as an autonomous body
under the Registration of Societies Act, was inaugurated on March 29, 1954 by Shri
Jawaharlal Nehru who was also the first President of the Society. The basic purpose
of establishing this Institute was to undertake such academic activities as would
enhance the leadership qualities and managerial capabilities of the executives in the

Case Studies
government and other public service organization. The activities of the Institute are
organized in four inter-related areas of Research, Training, Advisory and Consultancy
Services and Dissemination of Information.
CENTRE FOR CONSUMER STUDIES
CCS is dedicated to consumer studies and is sponsored by DCA, GoI. The objective of
the CCS is to perform, facilitate and promote better protection of consumers’ rights
and interests with special reference to rural India. The broad areas of focus of the
Centre comprise capacity building, advocacy, policy analysis, research, advisory
and consultative services, and networking.
The Centre seeks to network with national and international agencies and interface
with other stakeholders by serving as a bridging “think tank” with an intensive
advocacy role. The Centre provides a forum for creating dialogue among policy-
makers, service-providers, representatives of various business establishments and
their associations, professional bodies/associations, civil society organizations,
educational/research institutions, economic and social development organizations as
well as leading NGOs.

Centre for Consumer Studies


Room No.85
Indian Institute of Public Administration
I.P. Estate, Ring Road
New Delhi—110002
Tel: 011-23468347, 23705928 (Fax)
Email: ccs.iipa@gmail.com
Website: www.consumereducation.in

Editors
Suresh Misra
Sapna Chadah

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION


IIPA NEW DELHI
Reflections on Consumer Protection
Case Studies

Editors
Suresh Misra
Sapna Chadah

Indian Institute of Public Administration


New Delhi
ii

2017

Rs.

Sponsored by : The Department of Consumer Affairs,


Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution,
Government of India.

Published by Indian Institute of Public Administration, New


Delhi.

Printed at New United Process, A-26, Naraina Industrial Area, Ph-II, New Delhi 110028,
Ph. 9811426024
Preface
Globalisation and liberalization have broadened the linkages
of national economies into a worldwide market for goods and
services. This has widened consumer choices, minimised costs,
maximised efficiencies and has provided value for money for the
consumers. However, at the same time the quality of goods and
services available in the market has become a major area of concern
for the consumers. In the present era, the main objective of each
trader is to increase the sale of his products and maximize profit.
In order to achieve that, they are adopting all sort of unscrupulous
and deceptive practices, completely overlooking the interests of
consumers leading to exploitation of gullible consumers.
Consumer awareness is a need of present days. A well-
functioning market economy needs educated consumers with the
power to influence the market through their rational decisions
when confronted with choice. An informed consumer will
also be protected from trade and business-related exploitation.
Empowering consumers means providing a robust framework of
principles and tools to ensure their safety, information, education,
rights, means of redress and enforcement. Through awareness and
education they can actively participate in the market and make it
work for them by exercising their power of choice and having their
rights properly enforced. There is need for a systematic approach
integrating consumer interests into all relevant policies and puts a
special emphasis on tackling problems faced by today’s consumers
in various sectors.
In a market driven economy there is widespread recognition
that knowledge and skills have become the backbone of economic
prosperity and social well-being in the 21st century. In contemporary
knowledge intensive economies and societies, individual and societal
progress is increasingly driven by technological advances and
improving the dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of society
at large. Teachers who are equipped with the necessary competences
form the foundations needed for society. A central feature of higher
education is the collaborative relationship between university and
student. This relationship enables and challenges students to achieve
their learning goals in a supportive academic environment. In this
context, higher education represents a critical factor in the success and
sustainability of the knowledge economy. Hence, higher education
has become increasingly important on national agenda and need to
undergo reforms that will help them play a more meaningful role.
iv

The bulk of young consumers are in the institutions of higher


education particularly the universities and colleges. Developing
and enhancing their knowledge and skills to become an informed
consumer is now a priority for the government. Universities and
colleges not only need to frame syllabus on consumer affairs but
also promote research in the area. The Department of Consumer
Affairs, Government of India has undertaken a number of consumer
awareness initiatives to create and sustain awareness amongst
different categories of consumers with a view of enabling them make
informed decisions. The department is involving various stakeholders
in consumer movement through various schemes and programmes.
The Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India
launched a scheme on “Promoting Involvement of Universities/
Colleges/ Research Institutions in Consumer Protection and
Welfare” to promote the academia to take up empirical research
in this area and also develop skills to empower the students as
consumers. The basic objectives of the project were to: develop a
pool of trainers at University and College level who can take the
consumer movement to grass root level; and introduce researchers
to consumer issues to motivate the academic community to take up
research in these areas of consumer interface.
Under the project a number of research studies were undertaken
on various consumer issues. Out of these a select few have been
brought out in the present form. This book is an outcome of this effort
of well-known scholars and provides a deeper insight into various
consumer issues in the market economy. The recommendations
emerging from the empirical researches act as an input for
formulation of better consumer policy keeping in view the Indian
scenario. This book will be useful to policy makers, researchers,
teachers and students of consumer welfare in understand the market
dynamics and the role consumers can play. We would like to thank
Dr. T. Chatterjee, Director, IIPA for his encouragement and support.
We are also thankful to the Department of Consumer Affairs,
Government of India for their help. Thanks are also due to Shri
Anil Gupta, Publication Section, IIPA for bringing out the book
in its present form and within time. We would also like to thank
Shri Raman Malhotra, Consultant, IIPA for his help in Consultancy
Project and Ms. Deepa Rawat for providing secretariat assistance
during the preparation of the book.

Date: September 15, 2017 Suresh Misra


Place: New Delhi Sapna Chadah
CONTENTS
S. Title Page
No. No.
Introduction 9
1.
–Suresh Misra and Sapna Chadah
Brand Imitation and Counterfeiting: Need to Protect 35
Consumer–A Case Study of Amravati District,
2.
Maharashtra
-D.Y. Chacharkar
Impact of Advertisements on Rural Consumer Case 56
Study of Gautam Buddh Nagar and Agra Districts of
3.
Uttar Pradesh
-Meenu Agrawal
Consumer Protection and Supply of Essential 79
Commodities in Semi Urban and Rural Areas of Tamil
4.
Nadu
- S.V. Srinivasa Vallabhan
A Study on Consumer Awareness among Arts 107
and Science College Students in Tamil Nadu
5.
with Special Reference to Thanjavur District
-C. Subramanian
Accountability Consciousness of Consumer 128
6. ProtectionLegal System in Kerala
- P. Gopinadhan Pillai
Consumption, Education and Exploitation: A Probe 154
7. into the Consumer Exclusion in Kerala
-D. Rajasenan
Consumer and Medical Negligence: A Case Study of 178
Consumer Redressal Mechanism in the Delivery of
8.
Medical Services in the Rural Areas
- Shakti Kumar Pandey
Health Insurance – Can it reduce the Vulnerability of 190
the Poor? An Explanatory Study with Reference to
9. Rajiv Aarogyasri Health
Insurance Scheme of Andhra Pradesh
-L. Reddeppa
Development and Assessment of Technical Back Up 198
10. for Consumers of Textiles and Household Durables
-Neelam Grewal
vi

Designing a Structural Model for Measurement of 211


Service Quality in Railways and Hospitals with special
11.
reference to Tamil Nadu and Kerala State
-S. Rajaram
Working towards a Conscious and Efficacious 223
Citizenry and Responsive and Responsible State and
the Market: An Impact Evaluation of the Consumer
12.
Protection Act on the Awareness and Attitudes of the
Consumers in Delhi
-Rajvir Sharma
Medicine Quality: Do the Brand Matters? 233
13.
-Banhi Chakarborty
List of Contributors
1. Suresh Misra, Chair-Professor (Consumer Affairs) & Coordinator,
Centre for Consumer Studies, Institute of Public Administration,
I. P. Estate, Ring Road New Delhi-110002
Ph: 011-23766136, M: 09312413955, email: drsureshmisra@
gmail.com
2. Sapna Chadah, Ph.D Assistant Professor (Administrative &
Constitutional Laws), Centre for Consumer Studies, Indian
Institute of Public Administration, I. P. Estate, Ring Road New
Delhi-110002
Ph: 011-23468348, M: 09810657989, email:sapnachadah@
gmail.com
3. Dipak Y. Chacharkar, Associate Professor, Department of
Business Administration and Management, Sant Gadge Baba,
Amravati University,Amravati-444 602.(Maharashtra)
Ph. 0721- 2661213,(M) 9422159818, Email- chacharkar@
rediffmail.com
4. Meenu Aggarwal, Associate Professor , Reader and Head,
Department of Economics, Ginni Devi Modi Girls (PG) College,
Modi Nagar -201 204. (Uttar Pradesh)
Ph:01204297528 (M)-09312350003 Email:
meenuagrawal2005@rediffmail.com
5. S.V. Srinivasa Vallabhan, Associate Professor in Commerce,
National College, (Autonomous) Tiruchirappalli – 620 001.(Tamil
Nadu) Fax- 0431-2481997Ph:04312437340 M: 9443101193
Email-svsvsv@sify.com svsrinivasavallabhan@gmail.com
6. C. Subramanian, Professor and Head, Department of Social
Sciences, Tamil University Thanjavur-613 010.(Tamil Nadu).
(O) 04362 – 226720, (R) 04362 – 227727, (M) 94435 86188 Fax
– 04362- 226159Email- dr.subramaniam.tu@gmail.com
7. P. Gopinadhan Pillai, Assistant Director, Centre for Adult Con-
tinuing Education and Extension, University of Kerala, Trivan-
dram – 695 033 (Tamil Nadu)
(O) 0471-2302523 (R) 04701-2622612 (M) 09447727999 Email
- facultyimgdrpgp@gmail.com
8. D. Rajasenan, Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and
Inclusive Policy,
Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi - 682 022,
Ph: 91-484-2577566, 2575943, (R) 0484-2541212, (M)
09447790203, Email- rajasenan@cusat.ac.in
viii

9. S. K. Pandey, Associate Professor, M. D. Post Graduate College,


Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh - 230 001.
(O) 05342-220448 (M) 09415266414 Email- prof.s.k.pandey@
gmail.com
drskpandey@rediffmail.com
10. L. Reddeppa, Associate Professor, Council for Social Develop-
ment, Southern Regional Centre, 5-6, 151, Rajendra Nagar, Hy-
derabad– 500 030.
Ph: 91-40-24016395 (R) 27154111/ (M) 9400356633 Fax- 91-40-
24002714 Email- lreddeppa@gmail.com, csdhyd@hotmail.com,
csdhyd@yahoo.com
11. Neelam Grewal, Dean, College of Home Science Punjab Agricul-
tural University, Ludhiana (Punjab).
(O) 0161-2401960-72 (R) 0161-2401561 (M) 9888668186 Fax-
0161-2403179 Email- sjk2961@pau.edu, sjk2961@rediffmail.
com
12. S. Rajaram, Assistant Professor, Kalasalingam University, Ka-
lasalingam Academy of Research & Education, Anand Nagar,
Krishnan Koil- 626 190, Via Sriviliputur. (Tamil Nadu)
(O) 04563-289042 (R) 04562-274226 (M) 09659797417 Email-
pcsrajaram@yahoo.co.in
13. Rajvir Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Political Sci-
ence, Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, University of Delhi,
Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi – 110 021.
Ph: 24113436, 24117508 (R) 26681456 Fax- 24111390 (M)
9818880249Email-rajvirsharma.du@gmail.com
14. Banhi Chakraborty, Assistant Professor, Department of Archi-
tecture & Regional Planning,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur - 721 302.
Ph: 03222-281944 / 45 (M) 09433214945 Fax - 03222-255303,
255896, 282700 Email- banhi@arp.iitkgp.ernet.in, banhi@hijli.
iitkgp.ernet.in
1
Introduction

Consumer Education and


Consumer Empowerment

Suresh Misra
Sapna Chadah

Introduction
Consumption has a significant impact on and meaning for
the individual. In modern society it has become a mean by which
human beings communicate and interact. Consumers today operate
in increasingly complex markets. Globalization, growing amount of
information, expanding choice of products and services, and high-
pressure selling are making it difficult to make the right choice.
Everywhere we hear of and see new things which are superlatively
defined. Not only are there more products and services to choose
from but they are often more complicated like financial services.
With increase in incomes and rapidly expanding field of desires,
there is an ever-increasing need for educating the consumers.
Efficient functioning of the nation’s economic system and well-
being of society depend on consumer savvy. Individuals and
families able to handle the complex financial decisions of daily
life have better control of their lives. They are less likely to need
government assistance such as consumer protection. Making good
choices and protecting their interests require a wider range of skills
and knowledge.
India is a developing economy and it is becoming more
concerned on the way things are being consumed. This is basically
due to increasing purchasing powers and consumption of middle
10 Reflections on Consumer Protection

class. There is huge market and development opportunity that’s


why more and more Multi-National Corporations are trying to
capture Indian market. The era of reduction and shrinkage of
government began in 1990s. In this new phase of liberalization
and privatization, there has been a lot of shift of power which has
brought in involvement and investment from private sector and all
sorts of problems for the consumers. With introduction of FDI, the
flood gates have been opened for large multinationals to capture
Indian markets. Big companies are coming here to get benefit of the
huge market base available here. On the other hand it is becoming
difficult for the consumers to protect themselves against these large
giants. Emergence of e-commerce, plastic money, privacy and data
frauds, misleading advertisements are posing further challenges for
the consumers. The emergence of regulatory and organizational
structure is there but still the consumers are facing problems. The
affluence of a particular class of society leading to unsustainable
pattern of consumption also needs attention. We Indians do not
question many things and accept them as they are.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986- A Milestone


With a well organised sector of suppliers of goods and services
on one hand and an unorganized sector of consumers on the other,
the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is landmark legislation for the
protection of consumers. The Act is a milestone in the history of
socio-economic legislations in the country. It is one of the most
progressive and comprehensive pieces of legislation enacted for the
protection of consumers. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is a
unique piece of legislation as it provides a separate three-tier quasi-
judicial consumer dispute redressal machinery at the national, state
and district level. The Act is intended to provide simple, speedy and
inexpensive redressal of the consumers’ grievances. 
The Parliament enacted the legislation to provide for better
protection of the interests of the consumers and for that purpose
to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and
other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes. The
Consumer Protection Act provides for simple, speedy and less
expensive remedy for the redress of consumer grievances in relation
to defective goods and deficient services. The Act is a weapon in
the hands of consumers to fight against exploitation by traders,
manufacturers and sellers on one hand and providers of services
Reflections on Consumer Protection 11

on the other. It gives statutory recognition to six consumer rights,


which are right to safety, right to information, right to choose, right
to be heard, right to seek redressal and right to consumer education.
The Act also provides for quasi-judicial adjudicatory machinery
at three levels i.e. District, State and National. The District Forum
is presided over by a person who is or qualified to be a District
Judge. Besides President there are two other members, one member
is woman. The State Commission is presided over by a sitting
or retired High Court Judge and the National Commission by a
sitting or retired Supreme Court Judge. The pecuniary jurisdiction
for these bodies has been prescribed under the Act. The District
Forum can adjudicate on matters, where the value of claim is upto
rupees twenty lakh, the State Commission where value of claim is
more than twenty lakh but upto rupees one crore and the National
Commission where the claim is over one crore. These adjudicatory
bodies are quasi-judicial bodies and are regulated according to the
principles of natural justice. They are required to decide complaint
within a period of three months from the date of notice where no
testing is required and within a period of five months where testing
is required.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has been there for more
than three decades but still even those who have the knowledge shy
away from complaining. The consumers are not even aware about
the various provisions of the Act particularly the rights that they
enjoy as consumers. Perhaps lack of education and awareness has
been the major hindrance in its effectiveness. If the consumers are
empowered, then they will be able to capitalize on the opportunities
of globalization. They would be affected differently depending on
the level of knowledge and consumer awareness and the aspects of
consumer education.
The right to consumer education has been recognised as
one of the six rights under the Act but more needs to be done to
educate the consumers. Consumer education not only delivers
practical skills and knowledge that are relevant to everyone but also
promotes critical thinking, problem solving and constructive action.
Consumer skills are relevant not just in consumer situations, but in
many other areas of people’s lives. Consumer education is in fact
multidisciplinary by design. On a national level, consumer education
can help make markets work well for consumers and businesses by
12 Reflections on Consumer Protection

driving fair competition and preventing market frauds. It can also


help protect vulnerable consumers, prevent consumer detriment and
combat social exclusion. Consumer education must also inculcate
the responsibilities of consumers. Responsibilities always precede
rights. If consumers want their rights recognized, they must first
exercise their responsibilities.
We Indians by nature have the attitude to suffer in silence and
always think that going to court means a lot of problem, expenditure
and waste of time. Today even the food items of daily use are being
infected with poison. The consumer can cut down on a lot of items
but cannot leave the basic items like food. It is neither the duty of the
government alone, nor is it possible for the government to control
and stop such unscrupulous activities. The citizens should be aware
about these issues. Government is taking a lot of steps to curb the
unfair trade practices and generate awareness. However, to make
the consumer movement a success there is need for steps on the
part of all stakeholders. The business should also take appropriate
measures for redressal of consumer grievances at the organizational
level and also encourage self-regulation. At present, corporate social
responsibility is only a lip service.

Consumer Education: Need and Importance


Consumer education is critical in this regard; it can be defined
as a process of developing and enhancing skills and knowledge to
make informed and well-reasoned choices that take societal values
and objectives into account. Consumer education can help develop
critical thinking and raise awareness, thereby enabling consumers to
become more pro-active. It is also an important vehicle for building
the confidence that consumers need to operate in increasingly
complex markets. Today consumer education covers more diverse
areas than it has in the past. It now covers, for example, consumer
rights and obligations, personal finance, sustainable consumption,
and digital media and technology. Such education should be viewed
as a long-term and continuous process that develops better decision
making and skills throughout consumers’ lives.
“Consumer education is the process of gaining the knowledge
and skills needed in managing consumer resources and taking actions
to influence the factors which affect consumer decisions.”1 Critical
thinking, understanding processes, insight into consequences of
Reflections on Consumer Protection 13

choices and change management in general, are all necessary skills


connected to consumer education.2 Consumer education that helps
people to find their inner power and social potential to challenge
the status quo, to change the system from a holistic perspective.
Some of the principles on which our consumer education pro-grams
should concentrate are as follows:3
1. We need a general training for consumers rather than a
technical one.
2. Consumers need to be made to recognize existing
conditions.
3. Consumers must be helped to understand their rightful
place in the economic world.
4. Consumers need to develop standards for wise consumption.
5. Consumers should be helped in developing a technique for
buying.
6. Consumers must be made to realize their collective power.
7. Consumers should demand state restrictions of undesirable
practices and laws necessitating standards.
8. Consumers should force the passing of laws making
misrepresentation illegal.
9. If the information possessed by government and government
agencies is made generally public, that information would
be invaluable to the consumer.
10. More material on consumer education should be supplied to
the consumers.
11. Advertising is both a valuable and important business.
Think of what could be done if all of it were directed toward
public welfare rather than toward profit. An honest business
has no need to fear honest advertising.
Consumer education is neither a science nor a discipline in
traditional sense. Nor is it a list of rational principles which will
ensure the wisdom of consumer choices and behaviour. It touches
on almost all subjects, and when effective, addresses an individual’s
needs, goals, concerns and environment. It influences attitudes and
behaviour patterns. It is a dynamic, lifelong process of formal and
informal learning. The content of consumer education changes
14 Reflections on Consumer Protection

regularly to address the needs and concerns of the moment. But the
overall objective of consumer education does not change. It is to help
individuals develop a sense of values, to determine what they want
most from life, to set their goals and see them in proper proportion,
and then to act according to their own principles, whatever they
may be.4

Consumer Education: Role of Various Stakeholders


The scope of consumer education is almost unlimited; its
possibilities are unbounded; its process of development a slow one.
Herein lies a great challenge.5 There is need for harmonization
between the legislations, education and consumer movement.
Finding a right balance between these elements is certainly a major
concern. Government enforcement should involve empowering
individual consumers, giving them information and tools to protect
themselves. Thus we need to ensure that consumer welfare is
central to the policies across the board. There is need to support
consumer position in the market from the perspective of businesses,
governments and all stakeholders in the market. We also need to
define and consider more intensely the concepts of Corporate Social
Responsibility and corporate ethics.
Consumer education is often provided by several governmental
agencies. However, non-governmental entities, including consumer
organisations, teachers, parents and other civil society groups, also
play a major role in consumer education. Businesses also need
to be encouraged i) to play a consultative role to governments in
consumer education, and ii) to develop their own methodologies and
guidelines for promoting consumer education in their respective
fields. Media (print, radio, TV and social media) could be used more
effectively to support consumer education. Multi -stakeholder co-
operation and co-ordination both domestically and internationally
is needed in consumer empowerment.6

Government
The primary responsibility of consumer protection and
empowerment lies with government and regulatory framework. A
lot of money has been spent on consumer awareness. This is achieved
through the framework of laws and policies, and implementing
these for the benefit of the consumers. There is need to generate
awareness among masses about their rights and responsibilities
Reflections on Consumer Protection 15

and to take awareness to the grass root levels. The Department of


Consumer Affairs through campaigns like “Jago Grahak Jago” is
disseminating information to masses. But to have more impact of
the movement and to involve educational institutions and teaching
fraternity into it, the department is also involving educational
institutions in consumer protection through curriculum development
and research. The consumer protection at present does not exist as
a separate discipline at the school and college level. It is studied as
part of various disciplines like economics, law, sociology etc. and
is a multi-disciplinary subject; though the move has started and the
universities are now introducing a separate paper on the topic.
The government has recognised the need of training in consumer
protection and developing a pool of trainers who are interested and
concerned about the problem. Through such training and awareness
programmes, it is trying to educate consumers. Consumer education
is a life-long process. Adults also have significant consumer
education needs, some of which are specific to different societal
sub-groups. Therefore, consumer education should be disseminated
in a variety of ways. The government should impart consumer
education through formal and non-formal settings. Government
should developing effective strategies and explore how information
and communication technology can be used to impart consumer
education. The special needs of consumers who may be particularly
vulnerable like women, children, elderly need to be taken into
account.7
Recognizing the need of consumers for a Helpline to deal
with multitude of problems arising in their day-to-day dealings
with business and service providers, the Department of Consumer
Affairs, Government of India has established National Consumer
Helpline (NCH) which operates under the umbrella of Centre
for Consumer Studies, Indian Institute of Public Administration.
At NCH, the counselors guide consumers on how to get their
grievance redressed. They provide information to consumers on
products, services, company addresses, ombudsman, regulators
and consumer forums. Counselors provide information as per the
stage of the complaint. NCH also helps the consumer to approach
company's internal mechanism. It has been experienced at the
NCH that consumers are willing to complain to the company when
dissatisfied. However, most lack the information where to approach.
The details regarding the internal grievance redressal mechanism
16 Reflections on Consumer Protection

and the nodal officer of the company are provided to the consumer.
The companies’ tries to resolve the consumer dispute as per their
policy and many disputes get resolved at the first stage itself.
Besides creating awareness, Government has also tried to
encourage researchers to take up research on the consumer issues.
The problem with consumer protection is that it has not received the
required attention which it should have got even after 30 years of the
enactment of the Consumer Protection Act. The government through
the Consultancy Project on Consumer Protection and Welfare
implemented through Indian Institute of Public Administration
has tried to introduce to the researchers certain issues involved in
consumer protection and promote them to take up these for research.
The basic problem in our country is that researchers follow trends
and news. Some of the areas are becoming important because of the
policy change and consumer protection is one such emerging area.

Business
The trade and business also have an important role to play in
consumer protection. Businesses are responsible to their consumers
based on the contract implied by trade and potential harm that can
be done to the public. The business also has some moral and ethical
obligations towards their customers particularly in the areas which
affect the consumers. Companies must be honest with customers
and sell products that are adequately safe. Every theory of justice
will forbid coercive and deceptive trade. Businesses must give us
what we pay for and people should not be deceived about what they
are buying. Businesses must not harm anyone, including consumers.
At one point of time consumers might have been able to assess the
quality of products and services they bought on their own, but that
is no longer the case. Product safety is an ethical obligation insofar
as companies have a duty to provide consumers with whatever
they pay for and products are assumed to be safe for ordinary use.
Products must either conform to reasonable customer expectations
or to the explicit claims made about it.
Customers have a right to know as to what products they
are purchasing. Advertising and product labeling are both very
important because it is the potential customer’s primary source
of information, and companies have responsibilities to everyone
that could be harmed by their advertising. Despite a customer’s
right to know what they are buying, companies often lie or prefer
Reflections on Consumer Protection 17

for their products to remain a mystery. Advertisements suppress


information that customers should know about or pass wrong
information to them which is morally wrong. Advertisements that
manipulate consumers to buy products aren’t just disrespectful, but
could cause materialism or physical harm to the consumers. It’s not
entirely clear when advertising is overly deceptive or how much
harm manipulative advertising does to people. However, it seems
reasonable to think that it is morally preferable for companies to be
honest and reject manipulative practices whenever it’s unclear how
much harm it could cause. It’s better to be safe while dealing with
the well-being of people.

Educational Institutions
Consumer education should be included at all levels of the official
teaching curriculum. Training programme should be developed for
educators, materials on consumer education should be exchanged
free of cost between governments and social communication should
be used for future consumer education activities.8 The aim of
consumer education has been mainly to teach and educate students
to act as informed, rational and prudent consumers. The general
aim of consumer education at school and colleges should be:
• To develop an understanding of consumption and its role
in society based on students’ perception of their role as
consumers;
• To analyse alternative forms of human survival including
different patterns of consumption;
• To make students aware of their rights and responsibilities
as consumers;
• To make teaching and learning processes more dynamic;
and
• To develop consumer knowledge, skills and attitudes
suitable for promoting citizen activity.9
It has been emphasized that the intention should not be to add new
subject to the curriculum, rather to develop the present possibilities
of incorporating consumer education into existing programmes.
Consumer education courses should not, in the main, be set up
as separate courses, but consumer welfare should be infused through
18 Reflections on Consumer Protection

every course. General competence in buying should be taught


first; then help should be given in developing the ability to make
specific buying decisions. Study should start with the consumer’s
place in the economic order and the nature of the consumer choices.
Students need work in the field, need to realize the power of co-
operative action, scope of legislation, directed against fraudulent
advertising and fraudulent traders. Consumer education courses in
high schools might be given credit as college preparatory courses.
The analysis and grading of certain frequently purchased articles
should be included in a consumer education course. Students should
learn where and how to find and apply impartial information on
various articles.10

Consumer Organizations
The utility of Voluntary Consumer Organizations (VCOs) in
the area of consumer protection is second to none by virtue of their
operational domain at the grassroots level. They are useful in many
ways. They can effectively contribute in promotion and propagation
of the programmes and schemes relating to consumer education and
awareness especially in rural areas. Thus they can play the role of
the catalyst in generating consumer awareness. They can also help
the consumers in filing complaints in the consumer foras or can
take up the issues which affect the consumers in general. They can
be very effective in dealing with the menace of hazardous products,
spurious goods and can take up such complaints before the quasi-
judicial machinery. These organizations can through specialised
activities such as comparative testing of consumer products can
disseminate information regarding products and services which
can be very helpful for the consumers. However, at present these
organizations are riddled with many problems. They lack both
functionaries and finances. Further there is need for accreditation
and professionalization of VCOs to raise their credibility. These
VCOs should attract and involve professionally qualified people
retain them and motivate them to work for community. There is also
need for creating some mechanism to identify credible VCOs which
if supported could effectively contribute toward strengthening the
consumer protection.
Training and skill development of those who are working with
VCOs will no doubt make them more effective to take up the cause
of consumers. For this there is need for capacity building of the
Reflections on Consumer Protection 19

members of VCOs. This can be achieved by having special training


programme for consumer organizations and consumer leaders. The
objectives of such programmes have been to involve the majority
of the organizations in the region by providing them with general
knowledge essential for effective consumer action.11
Dr. D. Y. Chacharkar’s research paper on “Brand Imitation
and Counterfeiting: Need to Protect Consumer – A Case Study
of Amravati District, Maharashtra” highlights the problem of
counterfeiting and spurious products. The brand imitation is a
copy of famous or leading brand, using similar attributes, such
as name, shape, logo, and designs. It is a deliberate attempt to
deceive consumers by copying and marketing goods bearing
well-known trademarks. Counterfeiting has both economic as
well as social consequences upon society. The consumer gets less
value; feels cheated and could even risk his life by consuming
spurious goods. The brand owner loses profits, brand value and
customers. The government loses revenue through tax and incurs
additional expenditure on enforcement due to the pressure to raid
counterfeiters. It also results in deterioration of culture and breeds
dishonest behaviour. The objectives of the study were: to explore the
imitated brands available in FMCG category in the market; study
the role of retailers in pushing imitated brands; and examine the
efforts of various organizations against fake and spurious products.
The findings of the study indicate that the retailers have
important role to play in sale of imitated products. Almost all the
respondents (retailers) are aware about brand imitation proving
that, indeed, the retailer have major role to play in pushing imitated
brands in the market. Whereas very few customers know that they
are purchasing imitated brands and it can be termed as deceptive
buying. Majority of the respondents accepted that imitated brands
are harmful to consumers. Retailers are also aware of the fact
that people who buy counterfeits/imitated brands are committing
crime. Majority of the retailers also agreed that customer generally
complain about quality of imitated brands.
He has suggested that it is important for the consumers to take
precautions during buying process. It is also part of consumer’s
responsibility that in case he comes across such fake products, he
should report to company or inform authorities. Preferably goods
should be purchased from authorized shop and retail outlets to
20 Reflections on Consumer Protection

assure genuineness of products. Consumers should avoid imitating


other consumers. Business and marketers provide greater margin to
retailers to boost market of branded products. Logo can be designed
to differentiate between genuine and imitated products at point
of purchase. Masses must be educated about benefits of branded
products and ill effects of counterfeits through mass media. Quality
and price should be appropriately matched. Supply chain must be
strengthened further to channelize goods directly to retailers, which
in turn would lead to saving. Companies must be vigilant about what
is happening in the market through their market intelligence team.
Dr. Meenu Aggarwal in her paper on “Impact of Advertisements
on Rural Consumer: Case Study of Gautam Buddh Nagar and Agra
Districts of Uttar Pradesh” has investigated the rural consumers’
behaviour; analysed the level of education of rural consumers; studied
the impact of advertisements on their consumption behaviour; and
suggested remedial measures for bringing improvement in rural
consumers’ awareness, education and behaviour. The findings of
the study indicate that rural consumers are not often aware of their
rights and the products available in their market, that’s why they
are exploited. They, generally, respond to advertisements, which
influence their buying behaviour but the advertisements do not give
them all the information that they need. The behaviour of rural
consumers is mainly influenced by the personal factors followed by
social factors. The effect of information factor is 6.7 percent only.
There are several problems being faced by rural consumers.
The traders, to earn high profits, adopt foul means or illegal trading
practices such as black marketing, adulteration, short weighting,
supply of inferior goods at high prices, sales gimmicks, unfair
guarantees and warranties, lack of quality control and safety,
massive profiteering etc. Thus, the unaware, ignorant, illiterate
and poor rural consumers in the study area are exploited at every
stage in the markets. These consumers do not seek the redressal
of the grievances on account of their poverty and ignorance. The
impact of education on consumer behaviour in respect of buying
goods and services has been found to be positive. It has been seen
that educated consumers are mostly not guided by other factors
except by economic condition. The educated consumers are also not
influenced by the gifts, samples etc.
Majority of the consumers who were unskilled or illiterate, had
Reflections on Consumer Protection 21

no inclination to change their buying behaviour. The educational


programmes launched by the government and others in the study
area had very limited influence on them. In both districts the
consumers did not take action for the redressal of their grievances
and their bargaining power is very limited. The survey of the
study area revealed that many manufacturing firms occasionally
advertised their products to influence the rural consumers, they
adopted several forms of advertising in the area such as newspapers,
publicity vans, demonstrations, decorated bullock- carts, puppet
shows and awareness camps. It has been seen in the study area that
the general impact of advertisements on consumers has been, to a
great extent, positive. The rural consumers have now recognized
that the best source of information to them is mass media.
The analysis of responses of the respondents revealed that a few
business firms advertised their products in the area but 66 percent of
them admitted that these firms distributed samples of their products
and other gifts but they did not distribute literature of their products.
Further, the advertising firms did not introduce new products
and their advertisements were not attractive and convincing. As
regards the effect of the advertisements is concerned, the impact of
advertisements on rural consumers’ buying behaviour was found to
be positive but it was very limited as the purchasing power of most
of the consumers in the study area is limited.
The greatest drawback in our rural society is lack of
consumers’ education. Well educated consumers cannot be cheated
by the sellers as they understand their rights and powers. Thus, all
consumers’ education programmes should be effectively enforced
by the government and all other agencies including manufacturers
and traders who advertise their products in the rural areas. The
advertising concerns should launch consumer education programmes
separately. Creation of awareness by communication and media
should be emphasized. Print media such as newspapers, magazines,
posters advertisements etc. should help to create awareness among
rural consumers. In rural area under study, awareness camps should
be organized by the renowned manufacturers and service providers
with the help of Gram Panchayats. The matters of consumers’
exploitation, corruption, frauds etc., if brought to the notice of the
media, should be made public through press or by other means so
that the culprits may be punished. They should give the true picture
22 Reflections on Consumer Protection

of their products and services to the consumers relating to price,


quality, ingredients, availability etc. The misguiding information
given by some traders through advertisements leads to monetary
loss to the consumers. Thus, very strict laws and rules should be
enforced by the government against such traders so that they may
not behave irresponsibly. The manufacturing firms and service
providers while advertising their products/ services should distribute
relevant literature to the consumers, giving full details of the
product/ service. It should be made compulsory by the appropriate
authority. The advertisements must be attractive and convincing so
that the poor and illiterate rural masses may easily understand the
purpose behind the advertisements.
The study on “Consumer Protection and Supply of Essential
Commodities in Semi Urban and Rural Areas of Tamil Nadu” by
Dr. S. V. Srinivasa Vallabhan identifies the problems and prospects
in providing consumer protection with reference supply of essential
commodities in rural and semi-urban areas and its impact on the
standard of living. The findings suggest that effective steps have
been taken by the government by locating fair price shops within
a distance of 2 kilometres. However, still frequency of visit for
purchase is more than two and this can be reduced by providing all
essential commodities on a particular day to the cardholders which
will minimize the stress and strain on the part of the seller as well as
the consumers. Lack of information on date of supply is the reason
for discrepancy or deficiency. Effective remedy is preventing future
selling and punishing the erring sellers. Hence modified punishment
measures can be imposed to minimize the wrongdoings in relation
to supply and distribution of essential commodities in semi urban
and rural areas. Display of price and quantity available in all shops
should be made mandatory in relation to essential commodities.
These measures can be strictly enforced. Computerized bills or
printed bills with quantity and rate can be used so that the legibility
of bills can be improved.
Quality of products supplied through fair price shops should be
improved. Essential commodities are not luxury goods and they are
for the basic livelihood of consumers. Deterioration in standards
may lead to poor health and there will be overall deterioration
in health standards in the state. Weights and measures may have
been standardized and supplied to all fair price shops. However,
Reflections on Consumer Protection 23

the weighing and measuring methods are not at satisfactory level.


Hence the government can think in terms of supplying items in a
pre-packed manner. This will minimize the dissatisfaction due
to unethical methods followed in weighing and measuring. The
sellers may be given instructions to replace the substandard goods
immediately on getting complaints. This should be made mandatory.
Rural people may be educated with regard to complaint methods
and remedies available so that they can complain in case of wrong
doings. Cell phone numbers may be prominently displayed in the
premises of shops to prefer complaint to the officials. The meanings
for English words such as MRP, LT Extra may be translated and
written in local language on information boards in the shops so that
the consumer gets knowledge about these terms. The address of the
official to whom complaint is to be made and his phone number
should be prominently displayed in all shops selling essential
commodities so that the consumer can use his right to be heard in
case of irregularities. Public sector organizations and educational
institutions can be utilized to educate the consumers on consumer
rights. A separate paper can be made compulsory in all schools and
it should include the portions relating to consumer protection only.
In the paper on “A Study on Consumer Awareness among Arts
and Science College Students in Tamil Nadu with Special Reference
to Thanjavur District,” Dr. C. Subramanian has analysed the level
of consumer awareness among college students in the age group
of 18 to 25 years and studied the current trends among them. It
was noted that more than half of the respondents were aware of
the consumer rights. A vast majority of the respondents are aware
of standardized symbols like ISO, ISI Hallmark, etc. The main
source of consumer awareness was the communication devices and
the media. A large number of respondents purchased the product
based on the advertisements. They also take note of the defects of
the products during purchase. The rural students have the habit of
reading the cautions mentioned on the products. A vast majority
of respondents did not know about the consumer clubs. Female
respondents were more cautious in selecting the products than the
male respondents. Likewise Arts students were more cautious in
selecting the products than the science students.
From the study he has concluded that the consumers must have
education and awareness for better implementation of their rights.
24 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Educational institutions have to play an effective role towards


creating awareness among students by adopting methodologies such
as seminars, workshops, lectures, discussions, essay competitions,
quizzes etc. The legal provisions must be effectively implemented so
as to ensure that all packages contain the relevant information about
the product. The competent authority must ensure that the products
are not sold after the date of expiry, especially food and medicine.
Steps must be taken to identify the unscrupulous traders who are
misbranding the products of well-known brands. The Directorate
of Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in every collectorate at the
district level must take necessary steps to regulate the supply of
food items through licensed shops only. The Consumer Councils
must take steps to educate people and initiate protective measures
against the malpractices in business. Every business enterprise
should accept consumer protection, as their “Social Responsibility”.
The media can play a vital role to promote general awareness of
the rights of the consumers by providing information to them. The
general public, as consumers, should be made to realize their rights
and exercise them in the case of any act of cheating or exploitation.
Dr. P. Gopinadhan Pillai in his research paper on “Accountability
Consciousness of Consumer Protection Legal System in Kerala”
has assessed the accountability-consciousness among the key
personnel involved in the present consumer protection system in
Kerala, envisaged through the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The purpose of Consumer Forum is to extend a helping hand to a
helpless consumer and redress his grievances. Since the Presidents
and Members are the driving force in the consumer protection set-
up, it is expected that they should have a commitment to help the
consumer – a commitment born out of a feeling of accountability.
For that it is essential that each Forum and Commission should have
good team spirit to achieve the common objective of providing a
strong protective shield to the consumer against unfair practices. The
concept of judicial independence, social justice and accountability
should be included in training modules. Ethics and values should
get emphasized in day to day work.
He suggested that to achieve performance at district forum
new members should be given induction training on their roles and
responsibilities and the basics of consumer protection. This can
substantially reduce delay in grievance redressal. Training Need
Reflections on Consumer Protection 25

Assessment of the Forums could be undertaken by an expert and


on the basis of the recommendations, training programmes may
be arranged. The responsibility could be entrusted to the Judicial
Academy of the State. It is time that the protection offered by the
Forum has to be extended to the consumers in remote rural areas
of the districts. Forums could be set up in selected Talukas within
the districts taking into consideration their easy accessibility to
rural consumers. Thus the system becomes three tiers at the state
level. Frequent adjournments of hearings on flimsy excuses should
not be allowed. There is need to streamline the functioning of
supporting staff, so that delayed communications can be avoided.
Official email system could be formally introduced to avoid delay in
communication. The Forum shall make such orders as to the costs
occasioned by the adjournment as is provided in the regulations
made under CPA. The District Collector should ensure his full
support to the police for getting the verdict accepted by the opposite
party. Lok Adalat and Amicus Curiae have to be strengthened
in order to reduce the cost of litigation presently incurred by the
complainants.
A good number of complaints registered with the Forums are
regarding unfair practices indulged in by public sector organizations.
Customer care officers must be appointed in Public Sector
Organizations in Kerala, so that every effort should be made to settle
the grievances at the institution itself. The State Commission should
have a competent, professionally trained Public Relations Officer
to establish linkage with media to give wide publicity to socially
significant verdicts. He can also liaison with expert, voluntary
agencies and provide support to clients. Sufficient infrastructural
facilities and budget provisions must be provided to Forums. The
Forums need to appoint their own ministerial staff, instead of the
current practice of working arrangements or deputation. The present
man-power strength designed for forum was done around 1990. But
over the years, the number of cases seeking redressal has increased
manifold. Shortage of manpower is one of the reasons for delay in
the disposal of cases. Appropriate steps may be taken to provide
adequate staff based on workload and pending cases. A regular
monitoring and review system spread over the state is necessary, so
that correctives could be worked out by the authorities.
26 Reflections on Consumer Protection

The paper by Prof. D. Rajasenan on “Consumption, Education


and Exploitation-A Probe into the Consumer Exclusion in Kerala”
is based on study undertaken to: appraise the consumption pattern
trends in Kerala; study the dimensions of consumer exploitation and
exclusion in Kerala; understand the irony of consumer exclusion
despite higher literacy and education; evaluate the existing
institutions for consumer protection; and suggest corrective
policy measures. It was observed that instances of consumer
dissatisfaction/exploitation in the state is high. All felt that they were
cheated by sellers at some point of time during their life. Reason
for not complaining in most cases was the low value of complaint.
They felt that option of filing case is not worthwhile considering
the time needed to spend in relation to the product value. This is
despite the fact that Kerala is one among the three fastest consumer
case disposing states in India. Education level was found to be a
determinant factor of consumer exclusion and awareness was found
to vary according to education. Overall, the respondents seem
to be happy with the functioning of the consumer forums. None
of the respondents felt that the forums are inefficient but a small
number of respondents want improvements in some areas. The main
problems encountered by consumers in approaching forums include
limited procedural information and transparency, communication
barriers and monetary factors. The analysis indicates high scope
of exploitation in sectors like airlines and travel agencies, telecom,
public service utilities and chitty/unorganized financial sector.
The researcher has suggested programmes for long term consumer
awareness with 5 year window to increase awareness. There is need
to strengthen consumer education in schools and extending scheme
of consumer clubs to all schools. Consumer education must be made
compulsory in schools and its continuity must be ensured. Steps
need to be taken at two stages at pre-purchase and purchase stage.
Further visit of students to consumer forum be arranged to make
them aware of the procedure.
Paper by Dr. Shakti Kumar Pandey “Consumer and Medical
Negligence: A Case Study of Consumer Redressal Mechanism
in the Delivery of Medical Services in the Rural Areas” is based
on study undertaken to: analyse the available medical facilities at
the Village and District Levels; examine the level of consumers’
harassment prevalent in the rural areas of U.P.; evaluate the level of
awareness among rural consumers of the legal provisions regarding
Reflections on Consumer Protection 27

medical negligence and suggest appropriate policy measures. On


the basis of the survey conducted, the researcher concluded that all
the doctors are not properly aware about the provisions of Consumer
Protection Act related to medical negligence and its implications.
They perhaps need proper and thorough training about the provisions
and the procedures of these legal provisions. The patients and their
attendants are perhaps more ignorant about Consumer Protection Act
and its provisions related to medical negligence. For this, awareness
programmes need to be organised at the village, block and district
levels to make them aware of these provisions. The patients and
attendants should also be made aware about the procedure to file a
complaint regarding medical negligence against the doctor, under
the provisions of Consumer Protection Act. Most of the consumers
filing complaints are taking the help of lawyers, which frustrates
the intention of the policy-makers; for that the process should be
simplified and made easy. It will also be immensely fruitful to
organise common sessions for doctors and patients for developing
proper understanding about the Consumer Protection Act and
its provisions related to medical negligence. The provisions of
Consumer Protection Act should be displayed prominently in all the
Clinics, Nursing Homes, Hospitals and Primary Health Centres to
increase awareness level of the patients about these. This will make
the doctors more careful, and the consumers aware of their rights.
There should be stringent laws against the practice of quacks in
the rural areas. The unauthorised persons should not be allowed to
take up private practice. Such illegalities should be strictly banned.
Consumer clubs should be constituted at village panchayat level,
with special intervention by local educational institutions. The
provisions of Consumer Protection Act with reference to medical
negligence must be widely publicised through local newspapers and
hoarding, so that the rural community may become more and more
aware of the provisions and patients and their family members may
take appropriate steps as and when needed.
Dr. L. Reddeppa in his study on “Health Insurance – Can it
reduce the Vulnerability of the Poor? An Explanatory Study with
Reference to Rajiv Aarogyasri Health Insurance Scheme of Andhra
Pradesh” has assessed the awareness, administration, rate of
utilization and social, economic and medical impact of the Rajiv
Aarogyasri Health Insurance Scheme of Andhra Pradesh. Under
the scheme about 2.03 crore families, which includes more than 85
28 Reflections on Consumer Protection

percent of total households are covered. All the policy-holders and


patients were aware of the diseases eligible for claim; choice in the
selection of hospital; cashless treatment procedures; post treatment
services and reimbursement of transport cost. Nobody paid any
amount for treatment and surgery and it is really cashless transaction.
But, patients have incurred Out of Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) on
certain head. It is an average of about Rs. 4325. It is relatively low in
Aarogyasri when compared to the other government schemes. The
results emerging from the study indicate that government-sponsored
critical care with private partnership is not a rational choice due to
under-utilization of the public sector. Private sector hospitals are
growing at the cost of government budget in many respects. There
is need to regenerate commitment and responsibility in dealing
with critical care through public sector on priority basis. Thus more
protection is needed to cover the genuinely poor for all the diseases.
There is a dire need to educate the consumers regarding
business malpractices, to enable them to recognize the genuine
goods and standardization marks and make them aware of their
rights and responsibilities so as to safeguard them from evils of
exploitation. This would lead to firm foundation for improving
the economy at a micro and macro level. Thus, there is a strong
need to study the reasons for such state of affairs and to access the
magnitude of problem of malpractices in rural/urban markets, so
that suitable strategies can be formulated for protecting consumers.
Paper on “Development and Assessment of Technical Back Up for
Consumers of Textiles and Household Durables” by Dr. Neelam
Grewal is based on an investigation undertaken to: gain an insight
into the common business malpractices prevailing in the market with
respect of textiles goods and household durables; study the existing
buying practices of consumers related to these goods; and develop
and administer an intervention package containing technical back-
up to empower consumers. For that researcher undertook market
survey and household survey to study consumer oriented practices
of the respondents; and also developed an intervention package.
From the study the researcher has concluded that sale of
substandard, counterfeit equipment and textiles is rampant in small
towns and villages of Punjab. The poor villagers are practically
fleeced and looted as they do not have sufficient knowledge about
wise buying practices, standardization marks and consumer
Reflections on Consumer Protection 29

protection services. Majority of rural people rely on shopkeepers


while making purchases and are subjected to cheating/ exploitation.
Both urban and rural consumers are at receiving end and at the
mercy of suppliers of goods in the market. This is not solely because
of manufacturers and marketers, but more so because of their
own lack of awareness regarding the rights and responsibilities as
consumers.
It is quite disappointing to note that less than 10 percent of total
respondents utilized the services of consumer forums for seeking
redressal of their grievances. So to educate consumers and bridge
the gap between availability and utilization of consumer protection
services offered by the government, an intervention package was
developed and administered among selected respondents which had
significant impact on consumer behaviour and knowledge.
Dr. S. Rajaram in his study on “Designing a Structural Model
for Measurement of Service Quality in Railways and Hospitals with
special reference to Tamilnadu and Kerala State” has developed a
useful instrument (HOSPQUAL / RAILQUAL) to evaluate service
quality by comparing consumer expectations to their perceptions
of service delivered in Hospital and Railways sector. In order to
survive in the business environment today, most research places
emphasis on service quality. Service quality is defined as foundation
of a comparison between customers’ expectations and perceived
performance of service providers. In this research the inconsistency
between customers’ expectations and their perceived service
(performance) in specific services like Hospitals and Railways has
been analysed. The research was taken up to evaluate perceived
level and expectation (desired level) of the customers towards the
services rendered by Railways and Hospital sector. The purpose of
the research was to address these concerns by focusing and building
upon concept of service value through an empirical investigation.
The research re-affirms the sequence “Service quality”—“Customer
satisfaction”—“Customer loyalty” as best reflecting the causality of
relation between its constituent variables.
The findings of research provide an additional support to use
of service industry model to explain the process of customer’s
evaluation of the offering in a service setting. There are a number of
contributions to the knowledge base within the services' marketing
context. These include the demonstration that service quality is
30 Reflections on Consumer Protection

a higher order construct and the examination of the relationships


among service quality, customer satisfaction and behavioural
intention with a service context. In sum, the research contributes to
marketing theory to extend the existing conceptualizations of service
quality. The findings of the current research should be seen in the
light of contributions towards the development of a comprehensive
model. It explains the development of richer and more complete
conceptualizations of the constructs of service quality.
Dr. Rajvir Sharma paper on “Working towards a Conscious
and Efficacious Citizenry and Responsive and Responsible State
and the Market: An Impact Evaluation of the Consumer Protection
Act on the Awareness and Attitudes of the Consumers in Delhi” is
based on the study undertaken with the objectives of assessment
and evaluation of the levels of awareness among the people of Delhi
about consumer rights and redressal mechanism under the Act;
analyse the factors of dissatisfaction of the complainants regarding
the access and nature of delivery of justice to them; and to suggest
measures to improve awareness of the consumers and ways and
means to improve the working and performance of the consumer
courts.
The research indicates that the level of awareness about the
consumer rights, district consumer forum and Consumer Protection
Act is higher among the teachers, employees and the self-employed
in the descending order. Age is an important factor in awareness
in the rural population as the young respondents were found to be
more aware than the middle aged or old persons. Socio-economic
background did not matter in relation to the knowledge about marks
of standards like ISO, Hallmark or Agmark. In the opinion of the
majority, the efforts made by the government to generate awareness
are not adequate. Education is linked with the level of awareness.
Majority of consumers tend to get the matter resolved at the source
of supply rather than taking to the consumer forum or simply bear
with it showing greater degree of tolerance/patience. The reasons
for such attitude of the consumers, include low cost of the item,
lack of time, cost of litigation being higher than cost of the good
purchased etc.
The time limit prescribed under the CPA is hardly observed
and the cases remain pending for periods between 6 months
to many years. The complainants said that it was so because of
Reflections on Consumer Protection 31

the procedures involved in the hearing of the case or because of


the absence of the judicial member of the forum. Resultantly the
consumer felt frustrated or at times was forced to leave pursuing
the case because of high time and financial cost of such delays. It
was also shown in the responses of the complainants that the forums
do not observe the punctuality in starting the proceedings of the
forum. There is lack of human resources and physical infrastructure
in the forums. Therefore, lack of proper record keeping and proper
and timely service of information and summons to the party against
whom complaint was filed was a feature, rather than an exception.
The role of the advocates in consumer forum makes it like any other
court of the country.
It is imperative to enhance the level of awareness about not
only the consumer rights on a bigger scale but also the place and
procedure of grievance redressal. It is needed that the number
of members in the forums be raised or should be fixed after the
review of the average complaints being filed in the respective
forum in a year. Moreover, the forum should come prepared and
thorough with the cases to be heard by them on a particular day.
The procedure needs to be made more simple and accessible to
the consumer/complainant. The physical facilities and manpower
need to be strengthened for faster disposal of cases and consumer
friendly environment. The role of the educational institutions like
the schools and the colleges should be reviewed on regular basis
with reference to the outputs of the efforts-financial and others. It
would be desirable to examine the feasibility of banning the legal
practice by the advocates in the consumer forums, especially at the
district level. Presently, lawyer is engaged because the complainant
is generally unaware of the legal issues involved, preparation of the
complaint and the affidavit. There is a need to restrict the number
of adjournments to provide speedy justice to the complainant. It is
necessary to provide sufficient, competent and committed staff as
well as adequate physical infrastructure at the district forums.
Since consumer education is a very significant part of protection
of consumer rights. For that it is required to strengthen the consumer
awareness programme. This can be done by involving NGOs and
media on a larger scale in the consumer education. This will go
a long way in enhancing the levels of knowledge, confidence and
efficacy of citizens as a consumer. Further, the organizations like
32 Reflections on Consumer Protection

NSS and the NCC could also be used to take consumer awareness
forward. More consumer advisory and mediation centers should
be set up with the involvement and training of the resident welfare
associations and NGOs as well as the municipal ward committees.
Municipal leaders should be also given training in consumer rights
and consumer protection. There should be set up local area consumer
groups/ associations consisting of the office bearers of the RWAs,
the Traders/ Market Associations, the local municipal councilors,
the local MLA and other eminent persons of the area. These
groups/ associations should become instruments of dissemination
of information/ consumer education. Each district consumer forum
should be provided with a counselor/ guide to help the needy or
illiterate consumer complainant coming to the forum. This would
help obviate the need to engage a lawyer and would also spread
consumer literacy and competence and efficacy in a long run.
The research paper “Medicine Quality: Do the Brand Matters?”
by Dr. Banhi Chakraborty highlighted some of the problems being
faced by consumers in sale-purchase of drugs. In size, the Indian
Pharmaceutical market ranks 3rd and in value it is 14th in the Global
Market (2008-09). It was worth US $ 10.04 billion during 2010 and
witnessing growth at the rate of 15 percent. The sector, however,
suffers from a number of complexities like multiplicity of brands,
trimming in production of essential drugs, reduction in essential
medicines under DPCO by 79 percent, constrained availability, and
inclusion of expenditure on health increased poverty count by 3.6
percent (in rural) and 2.9 percent (in urban). The doctors were found
to have preference for branded drugs as only 9 percent of doctors
prescribed medicines in generic names. Further preference for costly
brands for almost all drug types was also found. In some cases even
brands of two different industries but of same generic, were also
prescribed to one single patient. Patients of better economic status
are inclined to move to private practitioners while the opposite is true
for those who visit Government hospitals. Doctors are not following
“Standard Treatment Guidelines”. Visits of Medical Representatives
to the doctors indicate close nexus between companies and doctors.
It is the pressure of manufacturing houses that compels multiplicity
in brands. It was also found that the location of shops matters most
with respect to availability of types of brands. Strategically the
shops located near /opposite to hospitals/clinics were maintaining
stocks of selected brands whereas retail shops in District towns like
Reflections on Consumer Protection 33

Siliguri were found to have more varieties than those in Kolkata.


Results of quality verifications indicate full compliance with
standard quality in terms of uniformity in weights, disintegration
values, dissolution values and in assay test for all the samples. It was
also found that the generic brands showed much higher values than
those of branded drugs of reputed manufacturing houses.
It was suggested that there is urgent need to adopt strong
measures for in eliminating the problem of brand complexity
and related implications on prices. High prices, even for control
category of drugs also require immediate attention of all concerned.
According to DPCO 1995, all drugs must comply with the standard
norms to get approval of Drug Control. Hence, once the drug
islaunched in the market, it is to be taken as quality compliant and if
so, the price variation does not stand as valid justification for quality
adherence. In the given context, price determination in relation to
leader’s brand price also does not hold good any more. Considering
India’s low HDI, assurance in health security requires to be restored
through faster policy reform where “drug” production is to be
considered not as industrial sector but as health service sector.

References
1
Rosella Bannister and Charles Monsma. (1982). Classification of
Concepts in Consumer Education, Monograph 137, South-Western
Publishing Company.
2
Victoria W. Thoresen. (2000). Resource Handbook on Consumer
Education, Consumer Council of Norway, p. 6
3
Mildred Brinkmeier Erickson. (1941). Consumer Education, Pi
Lambda Theta Journal, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 135-137 http://www.jstor.org/
stable/42915657 Accessed: 28-03-2017 11:44 UTC
4
Fernstrom, Meredith M. (Jul/Aug 1989). Consumer Education: New
Directions- A Bridge Between Consumers and Financial Institutions,
Credit World; 77, 6; pp. 18-23 at p. 18
5
Mildred Brinkmeier Erickson. (1941). Consumer Education, Pi Lambda
Theta Journal, Vol. 19, No. 4 pp. 135-137at p.137 http://www.jstor.org/
stable/42915657 Accessed: 28-03-2017 11:44 UTC
6
OECD. (2009), Consumer Education- Policy Recommendations of the
OECD’s Committee on Consumer Policy, p. 6 http://www.oecd.org/sti/
consumer/44110333.pdf
7
OECD. (2009), Consumer Education -Policy Recommendations of the
OECD’S Committee on Consumer Policy, p. 5 http://www.oecd.org/sti/
consumer/44110333.pdf
34 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Jensen, Hans Rask. (1991). Consumer Education as a Parameter of


8

Consumer Action in Latin America and the Caribbean, Journal of


Consumer Policy; 14, 2; pp. 207-228 at p.209
9
Ibid at p. 210
10
Mildred Brinkmeier Erickson. (1941). Consumer Education, Pi Lambda
Theta Journal, Vol. 19, No. 4 pp. 135-137at p.137 http://www.jstor.org/
stable/42915657 Accessed: 28-03-2017 11:44 UTC
11
Jensen, Hans Rask. (1991). Consumer Education as a Parameter of
Consumer Action in Latin America and the Caribbean, Journal of
Consumer Policy; 14, 2; pp. 207-228 at p.212
Reflections on Consumer Protection 35

2
Brand Imitation and
Counterfeiting: Need to
Protect Consumer–A Case
Study of Amravati District,
Maharashtra

D. Y. Chacharkar

Introduction
The brand is most important assets owned by a company.
Like any other assets, brands are prone to various forms of attack.
Imitation, counterfeiting, duplication, over-runs, alteration, misuse,
tampering or diversions are some of the known and repeated
forms of brand attack prevalent all over the world. Imitation is a
fundamental part of biological and social life. It has been essential
for human evolution as it facilitates the diffusion of new ideas and
technologies. The economist defines imitation as, “something that
is forged or imitated without the perpetrator having the right to do
it, and with the purpose of deceiving or defrauding.”
It is estimated that the value of counterfeit goods in the global
market grew by 1100 percent between 1984 and 1994 (Carty,
1994; Blatt, 1993). International Chamber of Commerce states
that counterfeits account for 8 percent of world trade (Freedman,
1999). Globally, the sales of counterfeit products are estimated to
be about $300 billion (Gentry et al., 2006). A recent survey from
the US has come out with the finding that worldwide 10 percent of
perfumes and cosmetics, 11 percent of clothing and footwear and
around 6 percent of drugs bought by consumers are fake. The figure
rises to a staggering 80 percent in some developing countries. Anti-
counterfeiting group (ACG) organizer of a pan –European survey,
put total loss to EU economy from counterfeiting and piracy at
Rs. 20,00,000 crore per year which is lost in taxes and excise.
36 Reflections on Consumer Protection

While India is not lagging behind the rest of the pack – mostly
developing countries- it is China that is ahead of others in this
category. China is the biggest source of counterfeit goods in Asia
and piracy rate in China is more than 90 percent. As much as 30
percent of counterfeit products worldwide is being made in China.
China's spurious goods are sold all over the world including India,
counterfeit goods are easily accessible in Indian markets. Countries
like Singapore and Hong Kong which are regarded as shoppers’
paradise are also den for counterfeit goods.

Consequences of Counterfeiting on Society


The economic and social consequences of counterfeiting can
be very damaging. Neither the Government nor the industry has
carried out much research to test and publicize its harmful effects.
Most counterfeit products- including fake medicines-are not
poisonous, but simply ineffective and unhygienic. A recent lab test
conducted by Pepsi India of 67 fake and regional soft drinks brands
in Rajasthan found bacteria, yeast and coli in most bottles. Harm
Matrix, a useful explanatory tool for understanding the various
nuances of counterfeiting, tells a different story in the interaction
between the counterfeiter and the customer and points to the many
nuances of counterfeiting in the market today.
Fig. 1: Quality and Functionality of the Counterfeit Product Quality

D Cheap toy purchased in High quality counterfeits


E belief that it is genuine purchased by customers
High believing they are buying
C a genuine article
E
Fake product purchased Overruns or very high
P with knowledge it is fake quality counterfeits
Low deliberately purchased
T
with fake
I
Low High
O
N

Source: Hopkins D.M., Kotnik L.T., Turnage M.T. (2003), Counterfeiting


exposed protecting your brand and customers, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New
Jersey.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 37

Lower-left corner customer may not be disappointed; brand


name is also not damaged. The upper right corner company loses
sales, customer watches a real brand but does not get it, and it is
damaging company as well as customer. The lower right quadrant is
also very damaging. Like the upper right quadrant, the producer of
the genuine part is damaged by virtue of lost sale. In all likelihood,
the customer would have purchased a genuine product had the
counterfeit not been available. Finally the upper left quadrant
describes an uninformed buyer who purchases a substandard
counterfeit, in belief that it is real.

Organized Criminal Involvement in Counterfeiting


Organized criminal elements are deeply involved in
counterfeiting and piracy. Profits from counterfeiting and piracy are
often used to fund other criminal activities; and unfortunately, the
criminal enforcement infrastructure, as well as the public, does not
always view counterfeiting and piracy as the serious crimes that
they are.

Brand Attacks: Indian Scenario


Delhi is the hub of counterfeit products. In India nearly 70
percent counterfeit originate there. The number of counterfeit and
look alike products in India has increased so much that popular
brands covering a wide range of product categories have been
losing 10-30 percent of their business to them. Fake brands flood
India- India has 60 ‘Nikes,’ 65 ‘Rolexs’ and 217 ‘Intels’. Such is the
impact of counterfeiting and piracy that over 400 companies begin
with the word ‘Reliance’, an industry chamber said. An ORG retail
audit revealed that for every 100 strips of genuine Action 500, there
were 54 look-alikes. Vicks Vaporub and inhaler have around 20
clones. Ten to-30 percent of cosmetics, toiletries, packaged food are
counterfeit, 10 percent of soft drinks sold every year are spurious,
61 percent of computer software and 40 percent of music sold are
pirated.
Also according to one estimate at least Rs. 20 crore worth of fake
currency in the denomination of 500 and 1000 was in circulation. A
sample study of 30 FMCG companies undertaken by A C Neilson
estimated that they lose Rs. 1,600 crore every year in their sales turn
over due to brand piracy. According to an AC Neilsen FICCI study,
the fast moving consumer goods sector loses Rs. 2,600 crore every
38 Reflections on Consumer Protection

year owing to counterfeiting, while the government loses Rs. 900


crore in a year in the process. Enforcement of laws in India against
counterfeiting is tedious. Lengthy legal proceedings often yield no
results.

How Does the Fake Network Run?


The counterfeiting works on trust and secrecy bonded by liberal
doses of cash. The network of fake product runs as follows: (ex. –
Fake Talcum Powder)
Fig. 2: Fake Network

Counterfeiter buys cheap variety of powder in wholesale and adds


some mixtures to get smell like talcum powder.

Counterfeiter orders laminated container identical to those of any


popular talcum powder brand. In some cases, even the supplier is the
same, no invoice is raised and payment is made in cash.

Containers are filled with fake talcum powder and sealed using a
rudimentary machine in a makeshift factory.

Containers of fake talcum powder are sold to trusted wholesalers who


may also deal in genuine brands.

Orders are dispatched to stock points across the district by salesman


of a particular brand.

Retailers pick up container of fake talcum powder that is cheaper and


sell it at original product’s cost.
Source: Rohit Saran, “Fake Flood” India Today, September 2, 2011

Fake Cosmetic Products Unearthed in Raids on Retail Shops in


Amravati
Amravati Police carried out raid in July 2011 at many retail
shops of Amravati, where in retailers were found involved in sale
Reflections on Consumer Protection 39

of fake products of P & G Olay Cream, Shampoo, Face Cream,


Head and Shoulders Shampoo, and other products. Investigations
revealed that all the products collected in the raids were fake and
routed from Delhi and Mumbai to Amravati. The police team seized
cosmetics products worth over Rs. 4,50,000 in the raid. Products
costing Rs. 700 are sold at Rs. 200 and product costing Rs. 200 sold
at Rs.75. Chemical test conducted on seized products proved that
these products are hazardous to health.
One such research study was conducted to assess situation of
brand attacks in Amravati City and rural part of Amravati district.

Research Frame

Research Objectives
The objectives of the study were to:
1. study the concept of brand imitation;
2. explore the imitated brands available in FMCG category in the
market;
3. know about the market of imitated brands;
4. examine the role of retailers in pushing imitated brands; and
5. study the efforts of various organizations against fake and
spurious products.

Data Sources
Two principle sources of information, i.e. primary and
secondary sources were used.

Primary Data
Investigation for the study was based on systematic survey
of retailers within the boundaries of Amravati. The structured
questionnaire was used for the purpose. Considering in-depth
information needed to meet the objectives of proposed study, a
representative sample of 300 retailers was chosen. Non-Probability
Convenience Sampling Technique was used for sample selection.

Sample Collection of Imitated/Counterfeited Products


Similarly, samples of imitated and counterfeited products mostly
from FMCG category were collected during the market survey.
40 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Survey Plan
Survey began by indentifying shops and shop owners who
satisfied study’s requirements, using the snow ball method. Owing
to the sensitivity of the topic it was not easy to identify respondents,
even though researcher assured them that their anonymity would be
preserved. During the survey out of number of shops approached,
roughly 20 percent of shop owners agreed to take part in the survey.

Data Analysis and Interpretation

Respondents' Profile
150 (50 percent) samples were selected from both urban and
rural regions. The shops selected for the study included 169 (56
percent) from general stores segment, 40 (13 percent) from medical
retail stores, 34 (11 percent) pan centers, 28 (9 percent) mobile
shops, and 29 (10 percent) shops from other segments.

Market Scenario of Imitated Brands


Almost all the respondents (retailers) were aware about brand
imitation proving that, indeed, the retailer have major role to play in
pushing imitated brands in the market. Out of 300 respondents, 271
retailers admitted that imitated products are dissimilar (qualitatively
inferior) to genuine brands.
Table 1: Selling Percentage of Imitated Brands
Percentage Frequency Percent Valid percent Cumulative
sale percent

1-25 287 95.7 95.7 95.7


26-50 13 4.3 4.3 100.0
Total 300 100.0 100.0

Majority (66 percent) of consumers were partly aware about


imitated brands, as explained by retailers. 44 respondents (14 percent)
were of opinion that consumers have complete knowledge about it,
together, they constituted a total of almost 81 percent of sample.
Figure clearly indicates that very few customers knew that they
are purchasing imitated brands, retailers opined. It can be termed as
deceptive buying.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 41

Table 2: Consumer Awareness about Imitated Brand


in Retailers’ Opinion
Frequency Percent Valid percent Cumulative
percent
Fully 44 14.7 14.7 14.7
Aware
Partly 199 66.3 66.3 81.0
Aware
frequency percent Valid percent Cumulative percent
No Aware
fully 49 44 16.3
14.7 16.3
14.7 97.3
14.7
Knowledge
Partly Aware 199 66.3 66.3 81.0
No Knowledge 49 16.3 16.3 97.3
Can’t Say
Can’t Say
8 8 2.7
2.7
2.7
2.7
100.0
100.0
Total
Total 300 300 100.0
100.0 100.0
100.0

Majority (66 percent) of consumers are partly aware about imitated brands, as explained by retailers. 44
Figure
respondents 3: Doare
(14 percent) Customers Recognize
of opinion that thatcomplete
consumers have they are Buying
knowledge Imitated
about it, together, they
Brand
constituted a totalwhile Purchasing?
of almost 81 percent of sample.
figure 3: Do Customers Recognize that they are Buying Imitated Brand while Purchasing?

140
120
Frequency

100
80
60
40 R
20
0 U
All the Majority Very few No customers
customers customers customers knows about
knows about knows about knows about it
it it it

Figure clearly indicates that very few customers know about that they are purchasing imitated brands,
retailers Retailer’s
opined. It can Opinion
be termed ason Imitation
deceptive buying.

Retailer’s Opinion on Imitation


Are Imitated Products Harmful to Consumers?
Are Imitated Products harmful To Consumers?
Majority 242 (81 percent) respondents accepted that imitated
Majority 242 (81 percent) respondents accepted that imitated brands are harmful to consumers to some
brands
extent, while are said
7 percent harmful to consumers
it is harmful to great extent,to
andsome
30 (10extent, while 7 percent
percent) respondents said it is not at all
harmful.said it is harmful to great extent, and 30 (10 percent) respondents
Table 3: Chi-Square Test
said it is not at all harmful.
Value df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)
Since the significance value is less than .05 the null hypothesis
Pearson Chi-Square 10.599a 3 .014
is rejected i.e. there is an association between the variables i.e. place
and opinion
Likelihood Ratioon harmfulness
10.988 of imitated
3 products. .012
Deceptive selling of imitated brands is a fact, as majority 164
(55 percent)
N of Valid Cases
admitted, they
300
occasionally share this details about sinc
e
the significance value is less than .05 the null hypothesis is rejected i.e. there is an association between the
variables i.e. place and opinion on harmfulness of imitated products.
figure 4: Do Retailers Provide Information of Imitated Brands to Customers?
42 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Table 3: Chi-Square Test

Value df Asymp. Sig.


(2-sided)
Pearson Chi-Square 10.599a 3 .014

Likelihood Ratio 10.988 3 .012

N of Valid Cases 300

Figure 4: Do Retailers Provide Information of Imitated Brands to


Customers?

100
Frequency

R
50
U
0
Always Occasionally Not at all

Deceptive selling of imitated brands is a fact, as majority 164 (55 percent) admitted, they occasionally
share this detailsimitated
about imitated products
products with with customer,
customer, and and
132132
(44 (44 percent)
percent) said
said that
that they do not at all
they
share details about imitated brands with the customers. Chi square Test proves
do not at all share details about imitated brands with the customers. that there is an association
between variablesChii.e.square
place and sharing
Test proves details of imitated
that there is an brands with consumers.
association between variables
Counterfeits arei.e.marketed by same dealers. Half of the respondents
place and sharing details of imitated brands with (52.8 percent) replied that imitated
consumers.
brands are marketed by the same dealer of original brand, followed by 26 percent said „no‟ and 21 percent
Counterfeits
retailers reported „can‟t say‟. are marketed by same dealers. Half of the
respondents (52.8 percent)
Retailers Opinion About Ill effects Of Imitated replied that imitated brands are marketed
Brands:
People who Buyby andthesellsame dealer of
Counterfeit originalare
Products, brand, followed
Committing by 26 Majority
a Crime? percent (63
saidpercent) agreed
with the statement‘no’
thatand 21 percent
“people who buy retailers reported ‘can’t
counterfeits/imitated say’.are committing crime”. Also majority
brands
(63 percent) agreed with the statement that “people who sell counterfeits/imitated brands are committing
Retailers Opinion about Ill Effects of Imitated Brands
crime”.
Retailer’s Opinion on People who Reaction
Consumer’s Buy and sell Imitation
to Brand Counterfeit Products, are
Customers haveCommitting a Crime?
Doubts about Quality Majority (63 percent) agreed with the
and Complains
Half of the retailers (57 percent)
statement agreed with
that “people who the
buystatement “Customers have
counterfeits/imitated doubtsare
brands about quality of
imitated brands”.committing
Majority of crime”.
the retailers
Also (73majority
percent) agreed with theagreed
(63 percent) statement
with“Customer
the generally
complains about quality of imitated brands”.
Smart Consumer Index: Brand Imitation Sensitivity Index
The data was collected using questionnaire questions. A section was especially designed to know more
about perception of retailers towards counterfeiters and counterfeited goods. Based on overall score of
section four of the questionnaire, Brand Imitation sensitivity Index is prepared. Index was formulated
based on the weighted score.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 43

statement that “people who sell counterfeits/imitated brands are


committing crime”.

Retailer’s Opinion on Consumer’s Reaction to Brand Imitation

Customers have Doubts about Quality and Complain


Half of the retailers (57 percent) agreed with the statement
“Customers have doubts about quality of imitated brands”. Majority
of the retailers (73 percent) agreed with the statement “Customer
generally complain about quality of imitated brands”.

Smart Consumer Index: Brand Imitation Sensitivity Index


The data was collected using questionnaire. A section was
especially designed to know more about perception of retailers
towards counterfeiters and counterfeited goods. Based on overall
score of section four of the questionnaire, Brand Imitation Sensitivity
Index was prepared. Index was formulated based on the weighted
score.
Table 4

Weightage
Sr. No. Option For Positive For Negative
Question Question
1 Strongly Agree 5 1
2 Agree 4 2
3 Can’t Say 3 3
4 Disagree 2 4
5 Strongly Disagree 1 5
Index was prepared to rate attitude of customer towards counterfeit goods
based on opinion of retailers.
The scores of 20 percent of respondents rated was low, and
rest 80 percent rated as moderate. It indicates consumers mostly
rated moderate on SCI. Statistically speaking there is no association
between variables i.e. location (urban/rural) and score on SCI.
Inter-relationships between Brand Imitation Sensitivity
Index, Education and SCI: Statistics related to regression of Brand
Table 5
44

Area Total Cumulative percent Valid percent Cumulative percent


R U percent
Q5 19.00 1 0 1 1 .3 .3 .3
23.00 3 0 3 4 1.0 1.0 1.3
24.00 4 3 7 11 2.3 2.3 3.7
25.00 5 6 11 22 3.7 3.7 7.3
26.00 4 4 8 30 2.7 2.7 10.0
27.00 5 4 9 39 3.0 3.0 13.0
28.00 9 9 18 57 6.0 6.0 19.0
29.00 19 14 33 90 11.0 11.0 30.0
30.00 28 19 47 137 15.7 15.7 45.7
31.00 27 22 49 186 16.3 16.3 62.0
32.00 18 27 45 231 15.0 15.0 77.0
33.00 13 13 26 257 8.7 8.7 85.7
34.00 9 7 16 273 5.3 5.3 91.0
35.00 3 7 10 283 3.3 3.3 94.3
36.00 2 6 8 291 2.7 2.7 97.0
37.00 0 6 6 297 2.0 2.0 99.0
38.00 0 3 3 300 1.0 1.0 100.0
Total 150 150 300 100.0 100.0
Reflections on Consumer Protection
Reflections on Consumer Protection 45

Imitation Sensitivity Index on education of respondents and score


on Smart Consumer Index is given in the following.
ANOVA (b) Standardized coefficients Y= α + β X1+β X2
Section 4= (.240) Education + 0.223 (section 5 score)
BRAND IMITATION SENSITIVITY INDEX= (0.240)
EDUCATION OF THE RESPONDENTS + (0.223) SMART
CONSUMER INDEX
In the regression analysis, it is found that P < 0.05 means it
show the significant difference between dependent variable Brand
Imitation Sensitivity Index and in dependent variable education of
the respondent and Smart Consumer Index.

Suggestions offered by Retailers to Counteract Menace


To Marketers- Certain strategic initiatives like greater margin
to retailers, sale promotion tactics, and more importantly sensitizing
about ill effects of imitated brands will be able to put breaks on sale
of imitated brands. Logo designed to differentiate between genuine
and imitated, control supply chain links of products can boost sale
of genuine products. Marketers should be always vigilant about
what is happening in the market.
To Government- The government should take this issue
seriously and initiate to identify and ban counterfeits. Concerned
officer from enforcement agencies should visit market to identify
illicit trade and sale of counterfeit. Brand Protection Committee can
be formed at local level i.e. by Chamber of Commerce of district to
identify and eliminate counterfeits for market. Local government
should put entry barriers to counterfeits at entry point.

Conclusions and Suggestions


Everyone gets affected when brand is attacked: Consumers- Get
less value, feels cheated and could even risk his life. Brand owner-
Loses profits, rand value and customers. Government- Loses tax
revenue and incurs additional expenditure on enforcement due to the
pressure to raid counterfeiters. Society- the resultant deterioration
of culture, breeds dishonest behaviour.
Value for money: Price is unquestionably one of the most
important marketplace cues in this context. It is seen that most
46 Reflections on Consumer Protection

purchasers of imitation luxury brands pursue value for brand and


prestige, but may be unwilling to pay high price for it.
Low purchase risk and novelty seeking: Customer seeks
variety and difference out of curiosity and novelty seeking.
Consumers who are inclined to try out new products would probably
have positive attitude towards counterfeits of luxury brands.
Consumers of imitated brands perceived same benefits
as of genuine: Consumers likely purchase imitations knowingly,
positively related to the expected performance. Appearance and
visibilities are more significant for fashion and symbolic products.
Product attributes for buying imitations would be based on
appearance and visibility. Limited awareness and willingness are
both enablers of imitated products sale.
Consumers are duped: Consumers may acquire imitated
brands either by not being aware (Deceptive Selling) or knowing
full well the illicit nature of the product (Non-Decptive Selling).
Tarnish image of original products: Imitation tarnishes the
image of genuine manufacturer, as its brand is a promise of quality
and value. The Brand - a company’s most valuable asset can be
destroyed when a trademark is imposed on counterfeit products of
inferior quality. When a brand loses value, legitimate business loses
sales and this can pose a long-term threat to profitability.
Difficulty in Evaluation of the Illicit Trade of the imitated/
counterfeits: Estimating the extent of illicit trade and market of
imitated brands appears to be major challenge. Present study
restricted to Amravati district even had limitations to estimate
figures of imitated / counterfeits and illicit trade. However, AC
Nielsen study estimates loss to the Indian government on account
of tax evasions by unauthorized manufacturers to be around Rs.
15,000 crores.
Future competitor: More important side-effects of imitated
product production, is the possibility that these producers may turn
into illicit competitors in the future.
Involvement of criminal element: Because of high-profit
potential and relatively low risk, organized criminal elements are
deeply involved.
Sample analysis: After examining products collected through
Reflections on Consumer Protection 47

survey, it is observed that small size packaging is most vulnerable


for counterfeiting. In most cases the ‘me-too’ products are slightly
different. Medicinal Products are usually sold in the form of a strip.
When the retailer cuts out one from a strip from ‘me-too’ make, the
consumer may not be able to tell the difference since the packaging
colours are identical to the original one.
Supply chain: The survey revealed same facts in this context.
Because of high-profit potential and relatively low risk, organized
criminal elements are deeply involved in counterfeiting and piracy,
pushing these products to end customers.
Slow pace of legal system: In most cases, due to an antique
and archaic law and judicial system taking its own slow pace, the
marketers of these products keep resurfacing; once nabbed, they
walk away again, scot-free. Raids are conducted only after pleading
and pressure from companies and the conviction rate is less than 1
percent.

Strategies to Counter Imitation and Counterfeiting

1. Be Proactive than Reactive


Employing local agents who can keep a watch on product and
market behaviour makes a sense. Large field force of independent
invigilators can be employed to combat the counterfeiting
problem.

2. Empowering Customers with Verification Ability


Authentication of the product at the moment when it is most
important i.e. point of sale at the retail level. Consumers should
be empowered with verification ability. Company for example,
‘Hawkins’ attaches a distinctive hologram to its packaging. To
quote many liquor companies develop a new bottle cap. Though
idea is simple, the cap had a bulge in its design which made it
extremely difficult to replicate cheaply.

3. Advertising Messages to Reinforce the Quality and Value of


the Brands
Educate consumers to differentiate between original and
counterfeits in terms of quality, functionality and reliability.
Aware them about quality and safety standards of imitated/
48 Reflections on Consumer Protection

counterfeit products. One way to combat this behaviour is to


use repetition of advertising messages to reinforce quality and
value of original brands.

4. Improve Distribution Network


Survey reveals more number of fake products is being sold
in rural market and to tackle this kind of problem, company
needs to improve their distribution network and to reach
market including haats. Also, communicating list of authorized
retailers is very important. Regular comprehensive trade visits
by marketing and sales department to the bottom end of the
trade seeking cooperation and also ghost shopper can unearth
unfair practices in general and imitation menace in specific.

5. Value Add Features


The research study advocates anti- counterfeiting technologies
that provide additional valuable features, for ex. Track and Trace
Technology. Supply chain management tools can be used at the
discretion of the brand owner to track the movement of goods,
to maintain inventory, to keep tabs on any diversions in certain
product segments like mobile accessories, etc. Emerging trade
regulations will soon mandate a Track and Trace requirement
for product importation in various countries.

6. Don’t do it Alone
Help is available from many sources. The initiative like FICCI
Brand Protection Committee can strengthen armour against the
counterfeiting. Corporate in India should have joined together
to wage a war against counterfeiting under the aegis of FICCI-
BPC. An initiative like a portal fake-busters.com is important
for counteraction.

7. System Approach and Strengthening Laws


To crack down on growing menace of spurious drugs the
government should introduce measures including, roping private
detective agencies, setting up separate intelligence network and
reward to informers. It should set up products and drugs testing
centers at various places, proactively. For all imported products,
products and drugs testing centers can be set up at various
ports. Police, judges, and custom officials need to be trained
Reflections on Consumer Protection 49

for enforcement against imitations. Issue of absence of safety


standards shall be taken on priority. A campaign like “Fakes
Cost More” should also be launched in India for the cause.
The Moment of Truth: The facts quoted here will certainly
relieve marketers from growing pressure of counterfeiters. The
findings of one of the research study indicates that buyers of
imitations of luxury brands might not be those who buy original
brand anyway. Therefore, these findings imply that luxury brand
owners should not unnecessarily worry about their product being
imitated.
Schools as a Centre of Education: School as a Centre of
consumer education is widely accepted all over the world. Hence
imparting the education about consumerism in school is a good idea.
Corporates and Government has a Responsibility of
Educating Consumers: Government bodies have greater role to play,
governmental bodies should educate consumers about the negative
impacts of counterfeits. Certain forms of endorsement by celebrities
would project credibility. Advertisements on Counterfeiting
showing negative economic impacts and long-term repercussions
of counterfeiting activities can be used for this purpose. Similarly
corporates may aid consumers, through education of the consumer
i.e. providing them with greater knowledge.

Anti-Counterfeiting Buying Behaviour Model


Modifying behaviour of consumers to reject counterfeits and
imitation occurs over time. Consumers usually pass through a multi-
stage process; which includes knowledge, persuasion, decision,
implementation and confirmation. The model and variables
associated with movement through the process is shown in Figure 5.

Stages of Change
Knowledge Awareness: The process stage begins when a
consumer receives physical and social stimuli that give exposure
and attention to the branded goods and also expose to ill effects of
counterfeits/imitation.
Persuasion: It is for formation of favourable or unfavourable
attitude towards the counterfeiting. The consumer in this stage
reduces risk in decision-making by acquiring additional information.
50 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Figure 5

Hence, data/information on negative/ill effects of counterfeits


reduces chances of acquiring it.
Decision: It involves activities that lead to choice regarding
adopting or rejecting the counterfeits. Rejection is a decision not to
adopt counterfeits. Active rejection consists of considering product
even for a trial, but then deciding not to adopt it. Passive rejection
consists of never really considering using it.
Implementation: It occurs when a consumer takes this decision
in real life situation. Process has been strictly mental exercise, but
now behavioural change is required. Proper use of marketing mix
elements makes favourable behavioural change easy. It requires
careful coordination of channel of distribution and communication
process.
Confirmation: It refers to the process through which consumers
seek or reinforce the changed behaviour. Discontinuance is a serious
problem at this stage, people who adopt the changed behaviour at
later stage appear to be more likely to discontinue.
Prior Conditions to Induce Change in Behaviour: Prior
conditions in order to diffuse adoption of changed behaviour need
to be developed on three fronts: I. Market: Commercials / promotion
campaign; Risk involved in terms economics; Coordinating mass
media communication; and Education and awareness of consumers
on the related issues. II. Legal: Existence of Legal framework
and Pro-activeness of regulatory enforcement agencies. III.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 51

Supply Chain: Availability of genuine brands; Moral values of


intermediaries; Partnering approach.
Characteristics Supporting Changed Behaviour: Similarly
characteristics supporting this changed behaviour includes: Socio-
Economic Characteristics: Geographic location-urbanites are more
prone to this adoption, Higher educational and social status and
upward social mobility. On personality characteristics, characteristics
such as: favourable attitudes towards education, Intelligence,
Favourable attitude towards change. Communication Behaviour:
Social participation, Change agent contact, Mass media exposure,
Communication regarding safety standard and quality stands.
Products most Likely to Succeed: Product with high
involvement, preferably small price differentiation, Functional
utility difference of genuine and imitated/counterfeits is vast and
observable, Price difference is perceived by consumer as justified.
Similarly education and awareness of consumers at different stages
of the process is responsibility of marketers, government, and others
agencies. They need to develop different education and awareness
campaigns for consumers at different stage of readiness of adoption.

Scope for Future Research


Present research study constitutes a very young research stream.
Knowledge on mechanisms and structure of trade of these products
is limited. Also diversity of the trade phenomenon need for further
research in this area; this research may serve as a starting point for
a future research agenda.
Bibliography and References
1. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-8538358.html#mlt
2. Doshi A. (2005) "Digest this, 5 percent of food Items you buy are fake”,
Hindustan Times (Mumbai).
3. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/brand.html
4. http://www.referenceforbusiness.com /encyclopedia/Assem-Braz/
Brands- and-Brand-Names.html
5. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-types-of-brands.html
6. Purba Kalita, (2001) "When Brand take on Generic Names”, The Times
of India.
7. Sasu Su, (2006) “Consumer Evaluations of Brand Imitation: An
Investigation," A thesis submitted to Auckland University to Technology
for the degree of Master of Business, pp 1.
52 Reflections on Consumer Protection

8. Ibid., pp 10.
9. Ibid., pp 15-20.
10. Chitrodia R. B. (2007) “Fake Brands dent co image”, The Times of India,
Nagpur.
11. www.consumercare.co.in
12. Shankar O. (2010) “Copycats”, Harvard Business Press, Boston, pp 139.
13. Ryder R.D. (2006) “Trademark Advertising and Brand Protection”,
McMillan India Ltd., First published, pp.176.
14. Ibid., pp.138.
15. http://www.referenceforbusiness.com /encyclopedia/Assem-Braz/
Brands-and-Brand-Names.html
16. Anil Kumar V, (2004) “Turning the heat on counterfeiters”, Business
Standard.
17. Thorsten Staake, Frederic Thiesse, Elgar Fleisch (2009) “A Study of
Antecedents and Outcomes of Attitudes towards Counterfeits of Luxury
Brands”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 43, No.3/4, pp. 320-334.
18. “Strategies to kill fake product in Indian rural market”, pp. 25, www.
indiamba.com/Faculty_Column/FC448/fc448.html
19. “Strategies to kill fake product in Indian rural market”, pp 26-27, www.
indianmba.com/Faculty_Column/FC448/fc448.html
20. Hopkins D.M., Kotnik L.T., Turnage M.T. (2003) “Counterfeiting exposed
protecting your band and customers”, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey.
21. Saran R. (2011) Fake Flood”, India Today.
22. Ibid., pp. 147-151.
23. Chaudhari A. (2010) “Combating the Counterfeiting Menace”, Chronicle
Pharmabiz, pp. 55-62.
24. Kapoor G. K. (2005) “Defective Goods and Deficiency of Service”, Indian
Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi.
25. Saran R. (2011) “Fake Flood”, India Today.
26. ... (2011) “Diet cola scores a perfect 10 in labeling and instruction,”
Consumer VOICE, Vol. 7, Issue 10, pp. 21.
27. http://www.intangiblebusiness.com/BrandServices/Marketingservices/
News/Brand-piracy-faking-it-can-be-good~290.html
28. Dasgupta S. (2011) “Fake iPhone5 available in China for Rs. 1300”, The
Times of India.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 53

29. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtm
30. http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/default.htm
31. http://www.iacc.org/about-the-iacc/
32. http://www2.dupont.com/Authentication/en_US/Knowledge_center/
index.html
33. http://www.antipiracy-india.com/copro.html
34. ... (2000) “Fake or Genuine?,” Insight-The Consumer Magazine, pp. 22-23.
35. Panorama (2003) “Counterfeit Products” Insight-The Consumer Magazine.
36. Pratidin (2011) Amravati, pp. 9.
37. Sinha K. (2011) “Commerce ministry clears bar code rule”, The Times
of India.
38. ... (2011) “21st Century Soney Ki Chidiya”- Consumer VOICE, Vol. 7,
Issue 7, pp. 34-36.
39. Srinivas N.N. (2004) “Dupont sues LG Chem for brand infringement”,
Economics Times.
40. “Paint products worth Rs. one crore seized in raid” The New Sunday
Express, Kochi, Jan. 17.
41. “Dabur, P & G, HLL conduct raids on brand pirates”, The Times of India,
Ahmedabad Beuro, Jan. 23.
42. ... (2000) “Philips launches drive against counterfeit lighting products”,
Indian Express, Calcutta.
43. ... (2002) “Co takes legal action for duplication”, Indian Express.
44. Sakal (2009) Nagpur.
45. ... (2011) “Fake Cosmetic Products Unearthed in Raids on Retail Shops in
Amravati”, Sakal.
46. ... (2001) “Amul files 3 cases against look-alike packaging”, The
Economics Times, Ahmedabad.
47. Alka Panse (2011) “Firm making spurious cold drinks busted”, The Times
of India.
48. http://www.ipab.tn.nic.in/
49. http://www.cercindia.org/
50. http://legalservicesindia.com/article/article/a-vision-of-food-176-1.html
51. Sharma A., Bhutoria S., “Save Our Brand: Protecting the Brands under
IP Regime” .pdf.
52. http://www.ficci.com/sector/5/Add_docs/knowledgecenter.pdf
54 Reflections on Consumer Protection

53. http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/ficci-helpline-to-tackle-
piracy-cases/146638/
54. ...(2006) Marketer’s Toolkit, Harvard Business School Publishing
Corporation, Boston.
55. Gaur A.S., Gaur S. S. (2006) Statistical Methods for Practice and
Research, Response Book, New Delhi.
56. Armstrong, Kotler (2005) “Marketing and Introduction”, Pearson
Education Inc., New Delhi.
57. Solomon M. R. (2003) “Consumer Behaviors”, Prentice-Hall of India Pvt.
Ltd., New Delhi.
58. ... (2009) “Fake sugar alters how body handles real sugar”, The Times of
India (Nagpur).
59. ... (2011) “India Needs to Have its Own Anti-Piracy Law”, The Economic
Times.
60. Marpakwar P. (2011) “Commercial divisions for HCs proposed”, The
Times of India.
61. ... (2009) “China admits to role in fake drugs supply”, The Times of India.
62. ... (2009) “Game in Fake Medicines”, Lokmat Samachar.
63. Gupta S. & Sidhartha “Consumer Protection Act to get more teeth”, The
Times of India.
64. Bhushan R. (2004) “HLL to combat fakes with new Clinic Plus”, The
Times of India.
65. ... (2002) “Brand names are imprinted on brain”, The Times of India.
66. Bhattacharjee D. (1997) ”Brand market: a changing scenario”, The Times
of India.
67. ... (1994) “Brand loyalty is more important”, The Times of India.
68. Agrawal S. (1996). “Marketing Brands”, The Times of India.
69. Sihag A. S. (1995) “Brand building and the national image”, Economic
Times.
70. ... (2003) “Procter & Gamble And Oki Data Count The Cost”, Vol. 19, pp
9-12.
71. Phau I., Teah M. (2009) “Devil Wears (Counterfeit) Prada: A Study of
Antecedents And Outcomes of Attitudes Towards Counterfeits of Luxury
Brands”, Vol. 26, pp. 15-27.
72. Devdhar D. (2011) “Relations- Doctors and Patient (?)”, Grahakhit, Issue:
7.
73. Pathak S. (2011) “Ban on Fake Advertisement of Complan”, Grahakhit,
Issue: 4.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 55

74. Joshi D., Bhattacharyya A. (2011) “Rules of Change”, a faqs! Reporter,


Vol. 2, Issue: 18.
75. ...(2011) “The New design focuses on building stronger emotional appeal
to consumers”, a faqs! Reporter, Vol. 2, Issue: 11.
76. Gangal A. (2011) “Can Social Media Harm A Brand’s Image”, a faqs!
Reporter, Vol.2, Issue: 13.
3
Impact of Advertisements
on Rural Consumer:
Case Study of Gautam Buddh
Nagar and Agra Districts of
Uttar Pradesh

Meenu Agrawal

The present age is the age of advertisements. The main aim


of these advertisements is to attract the consumers towards their
products or services. This is the way to capture the rural and urban
markets, to create positive interest of maximum consumers and
to remove the competing firms or producers from the field. These
advertisements attack the feelings of consumers and try to leave a
permanent impression in their minds. A rural consumer participates
actively in the economy from the day he spends his first paisa, be
it for candy or lemon or salt. As rural consumer plays an important
role in the economy, the way he performs in turn affects the
performance of the economy. However, due to lack of awareness it
is very difficult for the rural consumers to decide what to purchase
to satisfy their needs. Rural consumers are often not aware of their
rights and the products available in the market.
Rural consumers are, generally, exploited in the market because
advertisements do not give clear picture about the products. In
India rural consumers’ behaviour is not rational on account of
their illiteracy, ignorance, lack of awareness and poverty. While
buying goods and services they are influenced mostly by personal,
traditional and psychological factors. Their standard of living does
not improve even after increased expenditure on consumable items.
Only education and awareness can remove this drawback. That’s
why rural consumer’s education is necessary for survival in the
Reflections on Consumer Protection 57

rural society and it is directly connected with the skills needed to


manage everyday life.
But in recent years the behaviour of the rural consumers’ has
changed. The rural consumer, a few decades ago, was a silent person
who purchased the goods from any place without any complaint
whatsoever. But things have changed now. The consumer is now,
the choice empowered consumer who decides the fate of the product
with his rising income. Thus, the producers/manufacturers are
continuously engaged to understand the complex behaviour of the
consumer, particularly of the rural consumer.
The choice of the rural consumer is influenced mainly by the
two factors, (a) purpose, need or desire of the consumer and (b)
behavioural pattern. It is known to everybody that people react to
the same situation or environment in different ways at different
times because our behaviour and attitude depend upon a number
of factors such as habits, recognition, price, impulse, emotion and
unpredictability.
Advertisements about drugs, cosmetics and food items etc.
frequently misrepresent their products by clever advertising
literature containing vague words. Clever advertising is especially
aimed to promote purchasing through non-rational and impulsive
logics instead of rational and logical approaches. The advertising
has become a professional persuasion to manipulate the consumers’
buying attitude. Advertisers reap rich dividend from the knowledge
that the consumers on the whole are gullible.
Undoubtedly, the advertisements have played an important role
in educating the rural and urban consumers, which in its turn has
changed their behaviour. The advertisement, which gives the true
picture of the product, the details of which are advertised, is a boon
to the consumers.
Education of rural consumer is necessary for his survival in the
society and it is directly connected to the skills needed to manage
everyday life. The consumer education should support consumers
in their attempts to organise their every-day life in a sustainable
way and to manage efficiently and fairly the resources available.
The welfare of the rural consumers depends upon their right type
of education about the products that they consume even on special
occasions such as festivals, marriages, birthdays etc.
58 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Consumer education provides training so that behaviour chosen


follows individual and collective consumption interests and it is
connected with skills, attitudes and knowledge required for living
in a consumer society. The rural consumer is illiterate in respect of
legal provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. Rural consumer’s
bargaining power is limited and thus, he is unable to fight against
the wholesalers/manufacturers. Consumers are not united to fight
legal cases against the manufacturers in the court of law. He is
mostly impressed by false and repetitive advertisements about the
products.
Government and private agencies in India offer rural consumers’
education programmes and widely disseminate consumer
information system. Some of the reputed private companies have
involved themselves with rural consumers’ education giving
high emphasis to the motto- “Educated consumers make better
consumers” along with their selling portfolio. However, in India
consumer education is still, practically not widely recognised.

Objectives of the Study


The main objectives of the study are as follows:
1. To investigate the main characteristics of rural consumers’
behaviour in Gautam Buddh Nagar and Agra Districts.
2. To analyse the level of education of rural consumers in the
study area.
3. To study the impact of advertisements on rural consumers
education and behaviour.
4. To study factors responsible for success/failure in selling of
goods and services to the consumers.
5. To examine the rural consumer’s current knowledge, attitude
and practices regarding quality of goods, brands and prices etc.
6. To examine marketing strategy and delivery system according
to needs of the rural consumers in the district.
7. To draw conclusions and suggest remedial measures for
bringing improvement in awareness, education and behaviour
of rural consumers in the districts to make them more aware
about their rights.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 59

Methodology
This study was mainly based on the primary data, collected
personally through field survey with the help of questionnaires cum
schedules. In order to select samples for intensive study, Purposive
Stratified Sampling Technique has been used. For this study 300
respondents from the selected villages in Gautam Buddh Nagar
District and 300 respondents from the selected villages in Agra
district were proportionately chosen randomly. Thus, the study
is mainly based on the responses of 600 respondents, who were
selected through Multi-stage Random Sampling Method. Personal
interviews with the respondents and with some other households
were held and their views were noted.
Secondary data was collected from various sources such as
Census Reports, Research Reports and related documents on the
subject. Statistical Abstracts, Five Year Plans, Periodicals, Journals,
Magazines, “India 2009 and 2010" (Reference Annual), published
by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of
India, Reports of Ministry of Consumer Affairs and standard books
etc. were also referred to. The Secondary data as published by the
non-government organizations (NGOs) and other private agencies
were also consulted, analysed and classified for the purpose of this
study. Data and information were collected from the published and
unpublished literature and analysed by application of appropriate
statistical methods and techniques etc. The collected data were
classified and analysed with the help of computer.

Characteristics of Consumers' Buying Behaviour


The characteristic of buying behaviour of the consumers is
reflected in many ways, which play an important role. After buying
the product the consumer may feel that other brands, which he did
not buy, would have been better. This is a part of normal behaviour
of the consumers. This position makes him uncomfortable and
therefore, he recovers his conviction about the product that was
purchased and confirms his earlier decision. He may again try to
see the advertisements of that product to assess his earlier decision.

Factors affecting Consumer’s Behaviour


The consumer’s behaviour is influenced or affected by many
factors, which play an important part in his buying decision. These
60 Reflections on Consumer Protection

factors are: Personal factors, Attitudnal factors, Cultural and


Religious factors, Social factors, Information factors, Marketing
and Advertisement factors.
Not only the above factors, which deeply affect the consumers
behaviour, but there are other factors also, which to some extent
affect the consumers’ behaviour. These are:
• Geographical factors;
• Place or purchase point factor; and
• Mood of the consumer at the time of purchase factor.
However, these factors are not significant.
Table- 1: Factors affecting the Consumers’ Behaviour in Rural
Areas of Gautam Buddh Nagar and Agra Districts
(No. of Respondents = 600)
Factors affecting No.of Percentage of Respondents
Consumers’ Behaviour Respondents to Total Respondents
Personal Factors 400 66.6
Psychological Factors 30 05.0
Cultural & Religious 60 10.0
Factors
Social Factors 70 11.7
Information Factors 40 06.7
Total Respondents 600 100
Note: Information factors include advertisement and marketing factors.
Source: Survey of the Study Area and responses of the respondents was
collected through questionnaire

During survey of the area, discussions with 600 respondents


were held and efforts were made to know the comparative influence
of various factors on their behaviour as consumers. The information
about the influence of these factors on their buying behaviour was
also collected through questionnaire and face to face discussions.
The same has been reflected in the Table 1.
The above analysis reveals that in rural areas of both the
districts the consumers’ behaviour is mainly influenced by personal
factors (66.6 percent). Social factors affect their behaviour by 11.7
Reflections on Consumer Protection 61

percent and cultural and religious factors by 10 percent. The effect


of information factor is only 6.7 percent. The influence of the
psychological factors is the least (5 percent).

Problems of Consumers
In both the urban and rural markets consumers are confronted
with several problems related to quality, price, weight of goods etc.
The traders to earn high profits adopt foul means or illegal trading
practices such as black marketing, manufacture of imitation, unfair
guarantees and warranties, sale gimmicks, adulteration, short
weighting and measuring, lack of quality control and safety, massive
profiteering, supply of inferior goods at high prices etc. These unfair
practices are harmful not only for the consumers but to the whole
society. The unaware, illiterate, ignorant and poor rural consumers
are exploited at every stage in the markets. These consumers do
not seek redressal of their grievances on account of their poverty,
ignorance and unawareness.

Impact of Education on Consumer Behaviour


The education influences the behaviour of the consumers in
respect of buying various goods, commodities and services that
fulfil their needs. The consumer behaviour in absence of education
is, generally irrational. The consumers are usually guided by
various considerations before buying goods and commodities for
consumption. They are mostly influenced by their personal feelings
and whims, which may not be educationally sound. As a matter of
fact, consumer education is required to make them rational and
responsible consumers. Education not only improves the buying
behaviour of the consumers but makes them confident consumers.
The behaviour of the consumers who have knowledge about
buying goods for their consumption is not influenced by their image
and status in the society. They also do not show any inclination
to buy such products, which are not within their reach. They are,
however, guided by their economic condition, which compels them
to buy better goods and commodities, which are, economically,
within their reach. They exclude costly commodities from their
consumption list.
Educated consumers with requisite skill and knowledge normally
are not influenced by psychology, faiths and beliefs etc. The cultural
62 Reflections on Consumer Protection

and religious factors also do not guide their buying behaviour unless
some goods or commodities are particularly required for cultural
and religious purposes. Moreover, social, political and professional
organisations influence their buying behaviour only to the extent it
is rational and sound. Close groups and social class do not influence
their outlook, thinking and decisions in respect of buying goods and
commodities. However, information factor influences their buying
behaviour, if it adds something new to their knowledge.
The advertisements do not influence the skilled consumers,
unless they give sufficient ground in favour of the products, which
they advertise. The skilled or educated consumers study the
advertisements keenly and form the opinion after close observation
and taking knowledge from other sources about such goods and
commodities. These consumers have the power to well understand
the misleading advertisements. They are not attracted by such
advertisements.
The skilled and literate consumers are also not influenced by
the samples or gifts, which are given by the traders on behalf of
the manufactures. However, if the samples tried by such consumers
prove their worth, they become successful in changing the buying
behaviour of the skilled consumers.
Even the salesmen, who face to face narrate the merits of certain
goods and commodities, do not influence the buying behaviour of
the skilled consumers unless they faithfully give the true picture of
the commodity and give the answers to the queries, raised by such
consumers, faithfully.
Some minor factors such as geographical factors, place or
purchase points, mood etc. have no significance for the skilled
consumers. Thus, it is very difficult to persuade such consumers
as they consider reasoning and justification before taking a buying
decision. They are mainly guided by knowledge, which sets their
buying behaviour. It is, therefore, clear that the education deeply
affects the buying behaviour of the consumers.

Findings and Observations


During survey of the area, information was collected from
600 respondents, through questionnaire, to know as to how far
literacy has affected their buying behaviour, As 75 percent of the
Reflections on Consumer Protection 63

respondents were illiterate or semi literate, the result drawn on the


basis of their responses is as follows:
i. There is no place for argument and reasoning in their buying
behaviour;
ii. Their buying behaviour is mostly influenced by their personal
factors. The role of other factors is negligible;
iii. Their behaviour in buying goods and commodities is, generally,
traditional;
iv. As these consumers are poor and backward, they behave
accordingly;
v. The buying behaviour of these consumers is irrational;
vi. These consumers have no inclination to change their buying
behaviour as they have firm conviction about certain brands or
unbranded goods and commodities;
vii. The consumer awareness and educational programmes launched
by the government and non-government organisations (NGOs)
in the area have influenced a very small number of them;
viii. Commodity price is their main consideration, which can change
their buying behaviour from highly priced commodity to low
priced commodity. It is not material for them whether the low
priced commodity is of inferior quality;
ix. These consumers do not take action for the redressal of their
grievances although they are cheated several times by the
sellers;
x. The bargaining power of these consumers is very limited;
xi. Some of these consumers are impressed by the false and
repetitive advertisements of various products; and
xii. The responses of these consumers reveal that these consumers
are not confident and responsible consumers.
However, the buying behaviour of 25 percent of the respondents
who are literate is influenced by their literacy level. These
respondents narrated that:
i. They purchased goods and commodities after closely examining
merits and demerits of different brands;
64 Reflections on Consumer Protection

ii. They purchased standard quality goods;


iii. They were not influenced by the false advertisements and the
samples and gifts given by the sellers or manufacturers to
attract them towards their products;
iv. Their economic position influenced their buying behaviour;
v. Their outlook towards the commodities was not traditional;
vi. The buying behaviour of these consumers was rational as
they had no firm conviction about certain brands of goods and
commodities;
vii. Price of the commodity was not their main consideration;
viii. Out of these consumers, five filed complaint against the sellers
in the District Consumer Forum for the redressal of their
grievances;
ix. General faiths and beliefs, social and political considerations
and relatives and friends could not influence their buying
behaviour; and
x. These consumers learn from their experience from the goods
and commodities that they have consumed in the near past. This
experience helps them while making purchases of household
goods.
The responses of the 25 percent of respondents (liberate/
educated) revealed that they are alert and responsible consumers.
History of markets tells us that there was a time when market
was the place to fulfil day-to-day requirements but the scene has
changed now. Today markets rule the life of the consumers. Markets
guide the consumers as to how to celebrate festivals. But an alert
and responsible consumer does not buy a commodity in hurry. He
demands full information when he buys and he is not misguided
by the misleading advertisements and does not compromise on the
quality of goods.
An educated consumer insists on ISI or Agmark goods. He
always obtains the guarantee/ warranty card duly signed and
stamped receipt of the payment made to the seller or the shopkeeper.
However, the illiterate and unaware consumers do not behave like
this.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 65

The above discussion reveals that the consumers’ behaviour


is deeply influenced by the level of education of consumers. The
education makes them rational and enlightened consumers. In India,
the education of rural consumers should be given greater emphasis
so that these consumers may take value of the money they spend to
fulfil their needs. This will save them from exploitation.

Barriers in Education of Rural Consumers


The study area is mostly composed of ignorant, illiterate,
poor and unaware consumers. Even after very comprehensive
programmes launched by the government and private agencies to
educate them, the results have not been encouraging. As there are
some very acute problems in the area, the aim of educating these
consumers cannot be achieved unless very sincere efforts are made
in this direction. Before suggesting the ways and means to educate
the rural consumers of the area, it is desirable to know the barriers
in their education. There are several barriers, which have restricted
the education of these consumers.
The survey of the study area, which comprised of the selected
villages in Guatam Buddh Nagar and Agra districts revealed that
poverty, lack of inclination, lack of initiative, lack of facilities, lack
of proper planning are some of the barriers in education of rural
consumers.

Means of Advertising in the Study Area


The survey of the study area revealed that many manufacturing
companies occasionally advertised their products to influence the
rural consumers. The following forms of advertisements were
adopted in the area:
i. Newspapers;
ii. Publicity vans;
iii. Demonstrations;
iv. Decorated bullock carts, carrying advertisement panels;
v. Puppet shows; and
vi. Awareness camps.
Other means of advertisements were not known in the area.
A few manufacturing concerns and traders managed to distribute
66 Reflections on Consumer Protection

pamphlets, giving the name of the product, price, uses, sources


of availability, name of the distributor etc. with renowned daily
newspapers, which have wide circulation in the area. Television and
radio as means of product advertisements were popular only in rich
households of the area, which consisted of big farmers, a few small
farmers, owners of small village industries, money lenders etc. as
these households have TVs and radios.
These days advertisement is a very powerful mean of mass
communication therefore, the traders and producers are using
advertisements in various ways even in the remote areas to create
demand for their products.

Impact on Rural Consumers


• The impact of advertisements on rural consumers has been to a
very limited extent.
• Advertisements have provided useful information to rural
consumers about various products and their uses. It has also
helped to some of them to develop better habits and thereby
improve their life style.
• Advertisements have positively affected the buying behaviour
of the rural consumers towards products to some extent.
• Advertisements have increased awareness of few rural
households about the new products, which they purchase from
the neighbouring urban markets.
• The information given to the rural consumers through
advertisements has saved their time and effort. It was brought
to notice at the time of survey that even illiterate people see the
advertisements and gain some knowledge about the products.
• The rural consumers have recognised that the best source of
information to them is mass media.
However, the standard of living of these households in the study
area has not changed much on account of the following reasons:
• Low level of their earnings and poverty;
• Unemployment and seasonal employment of large number of
farm labourers;
Reflections on Consumer Protection 67

• Adequate data on prices of the commodities is not available to


them;
• Rural markets have not developed upto the desired level in the
area. These markets are very small;
• Rural traders and shopkeepers mislead the consumers. Most of
them have established shops in their houses from where they sell
the goods. Thus, these consumers purchase the product of that
brand, which the local traders emphasize.
• The literacy level in the study area is very low. Most of the older
people are illiterate. This is the greatest drawback, as it compels
them to believe in traditional way of life.
• Most of the rural consumers in the study area are unaware about
the quality of the products, which are offered to them by the
sellers. The knowledge of these consumers about various brands
of the products is very limited. Thus, they are exploited by the
sellers in the rural markets.
• The reach of mass media in rural areas under study is very poor.
As approach to the area is relatively costly; traders do not go there
to advertise their products.
• Rural people in the area do not have the capacity to analyse the
purpose behind advertisements and other means of communication
targeted to these consumers. The bargaining power of consumers
is also very weak.
• Rural masses in the study area are generally ignorant about the
behaviour of the markets and therefore, their attitude regarding
merits and uses of various kinds of new products is indifferent.
The above drawbacks reflected from the information collected
from the respondents clearly show that the impact of advertisements
on rural consumers in the study area has been nominal.
During survey several questions about the advertisements by
the business firms for their products in the area were asked from
the respondents and their replies were recorded. Table 2 shows the
position in this respect.
68 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Table 2: Replies of Respondents about the


Advertisements made in the Area
S.No Questions Answer No. of percentage
Yes/No Respondents
1 Whether the Yes 420 70%
business firms Not 180 30%
advertised their
products in the
area?
2 Whether these Yes 400 66%
firms distributed Not 200 33%
samples of their
products or other
gifts?
3 Whether these No 600 100%
firms distributed
literature about
their products?
4 Whether the Yes 600 100%
information about
the products was
given verbally?
5 Whether the Yes 200 33%
new products No 400 66%
were introduced
by these firms
at the time of
advertisements?
6 Whether the Yes 240 40%
advertisements of No 360 60%
these firms were
attractive and
convincing?
7 Are you satisfied Yes 200 33%
with, behaviour of No 400 66%
advertisers during
advertisements?
8 Are you satisfied Yes 100 17%
with the reach of No 500 83%
the mass media in
your area?
Reflections on Consumer Protection 69

9 Do you Yes 600 100%


feel that the
advertisements,
if are organised
sincerely can be
beneficial for you?
10 Whether any No 600 100%
survey was
conducted by the
business firms in
the area before
advertisement?
Total No. of Respondents 600
Table 2 reveals that 70 percent of the respondents admitted that
a few business firms advertised their products in the area. However,
only 66 percent of them admitted that these firms distributed samples
of their products and other gifts. 100 percent respondents said that
these firms did not distribute literature about their products, which
they advertised. Only verbal information was give by them about
their products. As per 66 percent of the respondents the advertising
firms did not introduce new products at the time of advertisements
of their products whereas 60 percent of the respondents admitted
that the advertisements of the business firms were not attractive and
convincing.
The behaviour of the advertisers was not satisfactory according
to 66 percent of the respondents. The respondents also felt that
the reach of the media in the area was not satisfactory. All the
respondents feel that if advertisements are made sincerely they can
be beneficial for them. The respondents also said that no survey in
the area was conducted by the advertising firms. Thus, on the basis
of the responses given by the respondents, it may be concluded that
the advertisements in the area were not sincere and effective and
therefore, their effect on rural consumers was neither convincing
nor impressive.

Responses of Rural Consumers after Advertisements by Various


Manufacturers and Producers in the Study Area
The survey of the study area disclosed that a few manufacturing
and producing firms advertised their branded products there. A
70 Reflections on Consumer Protection

particular mention of firms and companies, which intensively


advertised their products in the area under study, will reflect as to
how far they succeeded in their mission and what was the response
of rural consumers after their advertisement campaigns. Table 3
shows the position in this respect.
Table 3: National Level Manufacturing and Producing Companies
which Advertised their Products (branded) in the Study Area
Field of Manufacturing/ Type of
specialisation and Producing Company/ Advertisement
products (Branded) Distribution Company
(1) (2) (3)
(A) Medicines
Disprin Reckilt Benckiser India Pamphlets in
(for pain relief) Ltd. Newspapers,
Distribution of free
samples
1. Anacin Wyeth Ltd. -do-
(For Pain relief)
Vicks vaporub Proctor and Gamble Newspaper
(ointment for cold) Hygiene and Health care Advertisement and
Ltd. Demonstrations
Vicks Action 500 Do Newspaper
(for Cold and Advertisement,
Cough) Demonstration and
distribution of free
samples
Crocin (for Fever Glaxo Smith Kline Asia Newspaper
and Cold) Pvt. Ltd. advertisement
and pamphlets
distribution
(B) Phone
1. Mobile Bharti Airtel Newspaper
Advertisement and
Announcement on
Myke
2. Do Nokia Newspaper
advertisements and
Announcement on
Myke
Reflections on Consumer Protection 71

(C) Food Items


Biscuits
Priya Gold Surya Foods and Agro Free Sample
(Butter and Bite) Limited packets to children
and Music Show
Monaco Parle Biscuits Pvt. Ltd. Free small Sample
Packets distributed
and newspaper
advertisement
(c)Chaco-Chips Britannia International Free sample
Cookies (Chocolate Ltd. distribution and
Chips) gifts to children
(D) Tea
1.Today Premium Today Tea Ltd. Newspaper
advertisement
and Pamphlets
distribution
2. Tata-tea Tata Global Beverages Newspaper
Ltd. advertisement and
Demonstration
(E)Detergents (For washing clothes)
1.Ghari Powder R. Surfactants Pvt. Ltd. Small sample
packs distribution
and newspaper
advertisement
2.Nirma Powder Surat Enterprises Pvt. Demonstration
Ltd. for Nirma Ltd. in the gathering
of rural masses
(men, women and
children)
3.Tide Powder Procter and Gamble Demonstration and
Home Products Ltd. Sample Packets
distribution
Note: Other products are rarely known to the rural consumers in the Area.

Response of Rural Consumers after Advertisements


The advertisements made by various manufacturing,
production or distribution companies, as given above, influenced
72 Reflections on Consumer Protection

the rural consumers in the study area. In the field of medicines,


Anacin and Vicks-500 influenced more consumers as compared to
other such products. In case of mobile phones, Bharti Airtel became
more popular in the area. After advertisement, Priya Gold and
Monaco biscuits are favoured by the rural consumers in the area.
The manufacturing company- ‘Today Tea Ltd’ has advertised its
product-‘Today Tea’ heavily in recent years in the area and thus,
gained favour among the rural consumers. It has defeated the
preference for ‘Tata Tea’ in the study area. As regards detergents
(cloth washing powders) Nirma and Tide have become more popular
among the rural consumers of the area.
This study based on the responses of the respondents clearly
reflects that the impact of advertisements by various manufacturing,
production or distribution companies was positive but it was limited
to a very extent as the purchasing power of most of the consumers
in the study area is very limited and thus, they purchase unbranded
(local) products, which are much cheaper as compared to branded
products. The village shopkeepers mostly advice the consumers to
purchase local (unbranded) products as they give them more profit.
These businessmen take the advantage of financial limitations of
the consumers. However, rural consumers who have better earnings
can afford more expensive household goods, always prefer branded
goods, which they think are more safe. These rural consumers
mostly decide their preferences on the basis of advertisements,
which they see in daily newspapers and after using the samples,
which are distributed by the manufacturing companies at the time
of advertisements in their villages.
But in general the rural consumers in the study area do not give
much attention towards advertisements as they cannot purchase the
branded products which are costly.

Findings
In the area rural consumers are often not aware of their
rights and the products available in their market; that’s why they
are exploited. They generally respond to advertisements, which
influence their buying behaviour but the advertisements do not
give them all the information that they need. There were certain
limitations in conducting this study such as the precise and reliable
information was not be available on the way rural consumers behave
Reflections on Consumer Protection 73

in the study area and the extent of knowledge these consumers have
about the consumer protection measures. As respondents were
mostly illiterate, ignorant and poor, they could not give their exact
position as consumers.
Consumers’ buying behaviour in the study area is influenced by
many factors such as personal factors, psychological factor, cultural
and religious factors, social factors, information factors etc.
The survey of the study area and face to face discussions with the
600 respondents and information collected through questionnaire
reflected that in both the districts, the behaviour of rural consumers
is mainly influenced by the personal factors (66.6 percent) followed
by social factors (11.7 percent). The effect of information factor is
only 06.7 percent. There are several problems the urban and rural
consumers face related to price, weight of goods, quality etc. The
traders to earn higher profits adopt foul means or illegal trading
practices such as black marketing, adulteration, short weighting,
supply of inferior goods at high prices, sales gimmicks, unfair
guarantees and warranties, lack of quality control and safety,
massive profiteering etc. Thus, the unaware, ignorant, illiterate and
poor rural consumers in the study area are exploited at every stage
in the markets. These consumers do not seek the redressal of the
grievances on account of their poverty and ignorance.
The impact of education on consumer behaviour in respect of
buying goods and services has been found to be positive as education
makes them rational and responsible consumers. It has been seen
that educated consumers are generally not guided by factors other
than economic condition. The educated consumers are also not
influenced by the gifts, samples etc. The survey of the study area
where 80 percent of consumers were unskilled or illiterate showed
that there was no place of argument and reasoning in their buying
behaviour. Their buying behaviour was mostly influenced by their
personal factors and that they were mostly traditional consumers.
Their buying behaviour was irrational and they had no inclination
to change their buying behaviour. The educational programmes
launched by the government and others in the study area had
influenced very limited number of them. For them commodity price
was their main consideration. These consumers did not take action
for the redressal of their grievances. Their bargaining power is
very limited and some of the consumers were influenced by false
74 Reflections on Consumer Protection

advertisements. However, the buying behaviour of the remaining


respondents (20 percent) who were literate/ educated was influenced
by their literacy/ education level. Their outlook was not traditional
and their buying behaviour was rational. Five out of these consumers
filed complaint against the sellers in the district consumer forum.
There are a number of barriers to consumer education in the
study area. The survey of the area exhibited that poverty was
the main hurdle in their education. Further, lack of inclination is
also an important barrier as their wants and needs are limited.
These consumers also suffer from lack of initiative as there is no
organization or association to acquaint them to awareness and
education programmes launched by various agencies. The financially
well to do households discouraged the illiterate and poor consumers.
Moreover, in the study area there are almost no facilities for the
awareness and education of consumers. Even facilities for general
education are deficient there. There are several villages where even
the primary education schools have not been established. How the
children of these villages can be expected to become responsible
consumers when they assume the family responsibility? Lack of
planning is also a barrier in the education of rural consumers in the
area. The future of these consumes is dismal unless planned efforts
are made in this direction.
The survey of the study area revealed that many manufacturing
companies occasionally advertised their products to influence
the rural consumers, which adopted several forms of advertising
such as newspapers, publicity vans, demonstrations, decorated
bullock- carts, puppet shows and awareness camps. Other forms
of advertisements were not known in the area. A few traders used
pamphlets, which they circulated with the daily newspapers that had
wider circulation in the study area. Television and radio as means
of product advertisements were popular only for rich households as
they had these means in their houses.
It has also been observed that the general impact of
advertisements on consumers has been to a great extent positive.
Through repeated advertisements consumers remember the product
and ultimately buy it. Interesting and attractive advertisements
have created a psychological effect, increased demand and have
impressed the desires of the consumers. Advertisements expose the
consumers to the different brands of a product available.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 75

In both districts rural consumers have now recognized that the


best source of information for them is mass media. However, the
standard of living of most of them has not changed much on account of
several reasons such as low level of living and poverty, unemployment,
inadequate information on prices of commodities, undeveloped rural
markets, exploitation by rural sellers, low literacy level or illiteracy,
lack of awareness and ignorance, poor reach of mass media and
weak bargaining power. Thus, the impact of advertisements on rural
consumers’ behaviour in the area has been nominal.
The analysis of responses of the respondents revealed that
a few business firms advertised their products in the area but 66
percent of them admitted that these firms distributed samples of
their products and other gifts but they did not distribute literature
of their products. Further, the advertisements by the advertising
firms were not attractive and convincing. As per 66 percent of the
respondents the behaviour of the advertisers was not satisfactory.
All the respondents, however, felt that if the advertisements were
made seriously, they could have been beneficial for them. Thus, the
advertisements were not made sincerely and effectively; therefore,
their effect was not impressive.
Responses of the respondents regarding after effect of the
advertisements made by certain manufacturing and producing
firms in the area were also collected. In the field of medicine,
the advertisements of Anacin and Vicks-500 influenced more
consumers as compared to other products. In case of mobile phones,
Bharati Airtel got more popularity. After advertisements, Priya
Gold and Monaco Biscuits were favoured by the rural consumers.
The manufacturing company: Today Tea Ltd. advertised its product
“Today Tea” heavily and thus, gained favour among the consumers.
As regards Detergent Powder, Nirma and Tide became more popular
in the area due to intensive advertisements made by the respective
manufacturing companies.
It is also found on the basis of the above analysis that the impact
of advertisements on rural consumers’ buying behaviour was
positive but it was very limited as the purchasing power of most
of the consumers in the study area is limited and thus, they mostly
purchase unbranded (local) products. However, rich consumers
prefer branded products, about which they decide after seeing the
advertisements in newspapers.
76 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Suggestions
1. The greatest drawback in our rural society is lack of consumer
education. Well educated consumers cannot be cheated by
the sellers as they understand their rights and powers. Thus,
all consumers’ education programmes should be effectively
enforced by the government and all other agencies including
manufacturers and traders who advertise their products in the
rural areas.
2. The advertising and manufacturing concerns should also launch
consumer education programmes separately as part of their
corporate social responsibility. Such programmes should also
be included in co-academic activities, held in schools, colleges
and universities such as seminars, workshops, conferences,
debates, elocution, contests, lectures etc.
3. The consumers’ movement to develop awareness, vigilance,
alertness etc. should be strengthened by the advertising firms/
companies because it is their responsibility and it is also in their
interest. Such firms and companies will win the confidence of
the consumers, which will help them in increasing the sale of
their products and services.
4. The manufacturing concerns which advertise their products
to boost sales should provide help in constituting consumers’
organizations. These organizations will always favour the
honest manufacturers, sellers and service providers. These
organizations will tackle the problem of malpractices.
Such organizations will also discourage the misleading
advertisements, which exploit the consumers, particularly the
rural consumers.
5. Creation of awareness through mass media should be
emphasized. Print media such as newspapers, magazines,
posters advertisements etc. should help to create awareness
particularly among rural consumers.
6. In rural areas awareness camps should be organized by the
renowned manufacturers and service providers with the help of
Gram Panchayats. Such firms should distribute booklets free of
charge for educating the rural consumers, , at the village level.
This step will definitely improve the buying behaviour of the
rural consumers.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 77

7. The matter of consumers’ exploitation, corruption, frauds etc.,


if brought to the notice of the media, should be made public
through press or by other means so that the culprits may be
punished.
8. The traders and manufacturers should give true picture of
their products and services to the consumers relating to price,
quality, ingredients, availability, etc.
9. Misguiding information given by some traders through
advertisements leads to monetary loss to the consumers. Thus,
laws and rules should be enforced strictly by the government
against such traders so that they may not behave irresponsibly.
10. In rural areas where illiterate, unaware, ignorant, poor and
backward people reside in vast majority, the state government,
local authorities, NGOs, and the traders and manufacturing
companies which advertise their products, should understand
their problems as consumers and take effective measures to
educate and aware these rural masses so that their harassment
and exploitation at the hands of the undesirable traders, sellers
or manufacturers is prevented.
11. No planned efforts have been made in the area to educate the
consumers. The government should therefore, make sincere
planned efforts to educate the rural consumers.
12. The manufacturing firms and service providers while advertising
their products/ services should distribute relevant literature to
the consumers, giving full details of the product/ service. It
should be made compulsory by the appropriate authority.
13. The advertisements must be attractive and convincing so that
the poor and illiterate rural masses may easily understand the
purpose behind the advertisements.

Conclusion
The suggestions given in the preceding pages can be
conveniently implemented by the manufacturing companies and
service providers, who initiate advertisements and the concerned
authorities of the government. The ultimate aim of the whole
exercise is to improve the awareness level and buying behaviour of
the consumers and therefore, concerted efforts must be made by all
concerned in this direction.
78 Reflections on Consumer Protection

The Government of India and the state governments have


throughout been empowering consumers. The government has
played a significant role in promoting consumer education,
awareness and welfare. The government has emphasized that
consumer education to literates as against illiterates can be imparted
easily. Thus, literacy of both rural and urban people is the first step
towards consumer education. The National Policy of Education,
1986 (revised in 1992) has laid emphasis on value education.
To educate the consumers a number of booklets and brochures
have been brought by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food
and Public Distribution, Government of India. Various other
programmes such as Audio-video programmes, National Youth
Award, encouragement to Consumer Organizations etc. have also
been started by the government.
The government has also taken very serious steps to safeguard
and protect the interests of the consumers by enacting several Acts
including the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 79

4
Consumer Protection
and Supply of Essential
Commodities in Semi Urban
and Rural Areas of Tamil
Nadu

S. V. Srinivasa Vallabhan

Introduction
Consumer is ‘declared’ to be a ‘king’ and now also he is treated
as a ‘king in a democratic country’. However, actually he is always
at the receiving end of all the transactions, be it a purchase or
service. The innocent consumer has to tolerate the heat of all losses
and has to convince himself with the available product or service or
remedy. He is mostly bound by some ethical qualities which require
him to accept what he gets. He lacks the capacity to fight with the
irregularities and has to accept what he is given. He is deceived by
public sector, private sector and some times even by the government.
He has to face problems from getting his birth certificate to degree
certificate, for getting admission in Kinder Garden to government
hospitals; while travelling in a bus to travelling in the sky. The
trader or service provider acts as if he is the ruler and dictates terms
and conditions to the consumer who pays for the goods or services.
The case of uneducated consumer is still worse and he has to
bestow all his rights to the semi-skilled authorities and empowered
intermediaries or self-styled ‘employees’. Irrespective of his status
in the society, the consumer is treated with unscrupulous practices
and even has to face adamant arguments of those people in authority.
Consumer Protection is as old as consumer exploitation. It
can be traced even from the days of Arthasastra1. The weights
and measures were standardized even at that time. In ‘Protection
80 Reflections on Consumer Protection

against merchants'2, it is stated that the Superintendent of


Commerce shall allow the sale or mortgage of any old commodity
only when the seller or mortgager of such article proves his
ownership of the same.

Aim
The aim of this research project was to analyze the level of
consumer protection in supply of essential commodities in semi
urban and rural areas. The study aims to analyze the level of
satisfaction on the delivery of essential commodities among semi-
urban and rural consumers. This project also aims to identify ways
and means to frame policies and strategies to minimize the problems
of semi urban and rural poor including women with reference to
different types of essential commodities.

Magnitude of the Study


It is the duty of the government to provide essential commodities
and services to all citizens, especially those living below the poverty
line. Many governments supply essential commodities to all ration
card holders and minimize the problems of citizen in relation to
supply of essential commodities. Many strategies and policies have
been framed by the governments to ensure that there is uninterrupted
supply to essential commodities. Even drastic measures at times
have been taken to supply the required commodities on war footing.
The process and policies are well defined and codified.
The policies and practices may not be same and at times differ
significantly. Policy may have been framed with very good intentions
but the practices may differ according to the situation. Therefore,
the problems faced by rural and semi-urban population in relation
supply aspects of essential commodities requires an investigation at
this stage. The standard of living of the rural and semi-urban people
depends on their earnings through their agricultural employment
or through their small business earnings. Hence any change in
the economic policy affecting their food availability aspects may
change their standard of living and life style.
A welfare state has to provide strong support to wide range of
supply aspects relating to essential commodities and has to protect
social spending on basic services, strengthen safety nets and put in
place reforms. However, the process of globalization has created
Reflections on Consumer Protection 81

a sort of stress on many people engaged in supply of essential


commodities especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
In Tamil Nadu, the essential commodities are sold at fair price
shops as well as general stores. The general stores are run by various
types of organizations and individuals and the fair price shops are
run predominantly by the cooperatives and in a limited number by
the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation.

Statement of the Problem


India being one of the developing nations is constantly involved
in the process of growth and expansion. There is rising demand from
growing population, which causes high strains on economic front.
The nation has to ensure social protection to address re-emerging
poverty, widening inequality and welfare losses especially with
reference to providing essential commodities. Indian economy was
facing economic crisis and the World Bank insisted on reforms in
economic policies as condition for extending help to India to come
out of crisis.
Rising prices particularly of essential commodities is a matter
of great concern for the government. But, as the economy is growing
rapidly, the commodity prices can’t be insulated completely
from inflationary effects. On one side farmers are demanding
remunerative prices and on the other side consumers’ interest need
to be protected. Thus, government has to do the balancing act and
protect the interest of both the sides. Further, government cannot
keep prices of agricultural commodities artificially at low level
for long time, especially when the market forces operate freely
to determine the prices, both at national and international level.
However, the government has taken all efforts to protect poor and
the middle class families from the impact of price rise.
Supply of essential commodities is one of vital sectors directly
involving the consumers and it has many factors like manufacturers,
wholesalers, retailers, government, and consumers. The provisions
of the Essential Commodities Act deal with quality of essential
commodities, their marketing and related matters. It also provides
for the duties and powers of officials. Poor and substandard
1
Fleet, J.F., Kautilya’s Arthasastra, Mysore Printing and Publishing House,
Mysore, Eighth Edition, 1967, p.117
2
Ibid., p.134
82 Reflections on Consumer Protection

commodities tend to impair rather than improve health. Many


of these commodities have clear disadvantages compared with
alternatives. This shows that there is an urgent need to protect
the interest of consumers in the field of essential commodities
especially after globalization. There is always a tendency to over
simplify the matters relating to health and food by some political
and social groups. A service organization, which does not behave in
accordance with the ethical code of morality may not only lose its
social and ethical values, but also its right to exist.
The cut-throat competition from global giants, decreased
welfare spending of the states, economy measures undertaken
by the governments, low money circulation among the people
due to curtailed spending of the states may have higher impact
on supply aspects of essential commodities in rural and semi-
urban areas. Pragmatic and feasible policies and practices may
provide a consistent solution to the problem of providing essential
commodities to the people. The study investigates the problems and
perceptions of various categories of people with respect to supply of
essential commodities and analyses ways to improve the quality of
service in providing essential commodities to the people especially
in semi urban and rural areas.
The general problems faced by the consumers in relation to
essential commodities are quality of the product, quantity supplied,
time of supply, improper information relating to the product, method
of preservation, higher prices, unfair trade practices, unauthorized
use of weights and measures, refusal to accept complaints, no proper
remedy etc. These problems are to be analyzed from the cognitive
province of officials, sellers and consumers to bring out the reality
and the gravity of the situation in a pragmatic manner.

Objectives
The main objectives of the research project were as follows:
1. To assess the impact of Liberalization, Privatization and
Globalization and social stability with reference to supply of
essential commodities;
2. To identify the problems and prospects in providing consumer
protection with reference to supply of essential commodities in
rural and semi-urban areas;
Reflections on Consumer Protection 83

3. To analyze the perception of rural and semi-urban people on the


impact of globalization on essential commodities' supply; and
4. To suggest measures to minimize the problems, if any, of
service organizations in providing essential commodities to
poor and weaker sections of the society and the measures to
improve standard of living in the changing economic scenario.

Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were framed and tested in this study:
a) The problems and prospects in ensuring consumer protection
in essential commodities' supply aspects due to new economic
policies do not significantly differ in rural and semi-urban
areas;
b) The perceptions of rural and semi-urban population regarding
service providers of essential commodities in the new economic
scenario do not significantly differ.

Research Methodology

Coverage and Sampling


The universe for the purpose of analysis was the State of
Tamilnadu. Out of the 30 districts in the state 10 districts were
selected by stratified random sampling. First the state was stratified
as North, East, South, West and Central with six districts in each
segment. Then out of the six, two districts from each segment were
selected on random basis. Thus the area was stratified and districts
were selected in random for the purpose of collection of data. From
each sample districts 5 panchayats and 5 villages were selected on
random basis.
Thus the sample for the purpose of study consisted of 100
officials, 200 retail units supplying essential commodities and 300
consumers from the rural and semi-urban areas.

Data Collection
The study required both secondary and primary data. Secondary
data was collected from the books, periodicals, research publications,
websites and official publications of government and other agencies.
Primary data was collected from the sample officials, sellers and
consumers with the help of well-structured interview schedule.
b) The perceptions of rural and semi-urban population regarding service providers of
commodities in the new economic scenario do not significantly differ.
Research Methodology
Coverage and Sampling
The universe
84 for the purpose of analysis was the state on
Reflections of Tamilnadu. Out of the 30 districts in the
Consumer Protection
districts were selected by stratified random sampling. First the state was stratified as North, Eas
West and Central with six districts in each segment. Then out of the six, two districts from each
were selected on random basis. Thus the area was stratified and districts were selected in random
purpose of collection of data. From each sample districts 5 panchayats and 5 villages were sel
random basis.
Category I: Officials: 100
DISTRICTS IN THE STATE OF TAMIL
NADU
30 DISTRICTS
SAMPLE 10 DISTICTS
100 Officials

SEMI URBAN OFFICIALS RURAL OFFICIALS


10 X 5 = 50 10 X 5 = 50

Category II: Sellers: 200


DISTRICTS IN THE STATE OF TAMIL
NADU
30 DISTRICTS
SAMPLE 10 DISTICTS
200 sellers

SEMI URBAN SELLERS RURAL SELLERS


10 X10 = 100 10 X 10 - 100

Category III: Consumers: 300


DISTRICTS IN THE STATE OF TAMIL
NADU
30 DISTRICTS
SAMPLE 10 DISTICTS
300 Consumers

SEMI URBAN CONSUMERS RURAL CONSUMERS


10 X15 = 150 10 X 15 = 150

Thus the sample for the purpose of study consisted of 100 officials, 200 retail units supplying
commodities and 300 consumers from the rural and semi-urban areas.
Data Collection
The study required both secondary and primary data. secondary data was collected from the
periodicals, research publications, web sites and official publications of government and other a
Primary data was collected from the sample officials, sellers and consumers with the help
structured interview schedule.
A pilot study was conducted in selected districts in rural and semi-urban areas with interview
with the help of research scholars. Officials in Government, Non-Government Organizations,
Reflections on Consumer Protection 85

A pilot study to test the interview schedule was conducted


in selected districts in rural and semi-urban areas. Officials
in Government, Non-Government Organizations, Traders’
Associations and employees were contacted to collect the data.
Then the interview schedule was modified and restructured to
collect accurate data from the sample respondents.

Implications of the Study


In this study, focus was on interrelatedness of structural policies
and people. Developmental aspects were studied with an integrated
approach to the areas that required immediate attention especially
with reference to supply of essential commodities in relation to
protection of consumer rights. Efforts were to expose weaknesses
in essential commodities' supply and service sectors and make
an unambiguous and compelling case for providing protection to
rural and semi-urban consumers. The study may provide yardsticks
for providing better standard of living and quality of life for rural
and semi-urban people in general and women and children, in
particular. In many states, the economic crisis rally around a wider
and deeper agenda and it has called for attention to the sobering
fact that the number of people in poverty is rising. However, the
fight against poverty has gained momentum, life expectancy has
risen, infant mortality has dropped and there are more schools for
girls and rural children than before. The present study may help
the governments to formulate policies for minimizing the problems
of women and children in rural and semi-urban areas in this new
economic environment.

Findings

I Reponses from Officials


1. As regards the level of knowledge in relation to various Acts is
concerned, it was noted that all the respondent officials were
having good understanding of the processes and procedures
in discharging their official duties. It was found that there is
overall lesser knowledge about the Essential Commodities Act
and Drugs Control Act. However, there is higher knowledge in
relation to Consumer Protection Act and Standards of Weights
and Measures Act. The knowledge of Essential Commodities
Act and Consumer Protection Act was lesser in rural areas than
86 Reflections on Consumer Protection

semi-urban areas. There is negative correlation among semi-


urban and rural sample officials. The semi-urban and rural
officials do not differ in their knowledge about Standards of
Weights and Measures Act but they do differ in respect of other
aspects.
2. The prices charged in fair price shops were highly reasonable.
The time of supply was highly improper both in semi urban and
rural areas. The quality was poor and the margin to sellers was
very less. Display of goods was poor and least information is
provided by the fair price shop sellers. The bills were illegible
and weights and measures were poor. The packaging aspect
was also poor. Usage details are not mentioned. There is lesser
differential price in fair price shops. Correlation analysis
reveals that there is positive correlation between the opinion of
semi urban and rural sample officials.
3. Coefficient analysis revealed that the quality of essential
commodities, display details, weights and measures and
packaging are either poor or very poor in rural areas. Differential
pricing is higher in semi-urban areas. However, it is to be
noted that price is reasonable in semi-urban areas. Quality,
information and weights were reasonable in semi-urban areas.
The correlation coefficient is -0.177 and this traces that there is
negative relationship between the opinion of general shops in
semi urban and rural areas.
4. As regards the existence of Right to Safety viz-a viz quality
aspects is concerned, 30 percent said it is well existing or existing
and 37 percent said as not existing or not at all existing. For the
time of usage, 55 percent said well existing and 12 percent said
not existing or not at all existing. For the preservation aspect,
29 percent said well existing and 55 percent said not existing
or not at all existing. Regarding provisions for the checking
adulteration, 32 percent said well existing and 39 percent said
not existing or not at all existing.
5. The methods of checking quality and adulteration do not exist
in rural areas. However, the people know about the time of
usage of products. Standardized method of preservation does
not exist in both areas. There is positive correlation between the
opinion of semi urban and rural sample officials.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 87

6. As regards information on quantity, 16 percent said good or very


good and 58 percent said poor or very poor. For display aspects,
27 percent said very good or good and 48 percent responded
as poor or very poor. For knowledge about MRP, 22 percent
said very good or good and 72 percent said poor or very poor.
For knowledge about the terms and conditions and LT Extra, 8
percent said good and 20 percent said very poor.
Analysis demonstrates that the information relating to quantity,
display of prices in the shops does not exist in both areas. Further
the knowledge about the terms and conditions, MRP and LT extra is
lacking in both areas. This may be due to poor information provided
by the sellers about the quantity of products available in the shop
with price details. The ignorance on the Terms, MRP and LT Extra
may be attributed to their lack of knowledge in English.

II Opinion of Sellers
1. On the existence of various consumer related aspects in fair
price shops, it was opined by 16 percent of semi urban and 22
percent of rural sellers that it is not existing or not at all existing.
For time of supply, 31 percent of semi urban and 50 percent of
rural sellers said that it is not existing or not at all existing. For
quality, 31 percent of semi urban and 44 percent of rural sellers
said that it is not existing or not at all existing. On margin to
sellers, 39 percent of semi urban and 29 percent of rural sellers
said that it is not existing or not at all existing.
2. Regarding display of goods in fair price shops, 61 percent of
semi urban and 47 percent of rural sellers said that it is not
existing or not at all existing. Regarding information provided
to the buyers, 59 percent of semi urban and 50 percent of rural
sellers said that it is not existing or not at all existing. For bills,
53 percent of semi urban and 47 percent of rural sellers said that
it is not existing or not at all existing. For weights and measures,
69 percent of semi urban and 42 percent of rural sellers said that
it is not existing or not at all existing.
3. The prices are perceived to be reasonable in fair price shops.
However, time of supply and quality is stated to be poor in rural
areas. Other aspects such as display, providing information,
legible bills, correct weights and measures, package, usage
information and differential prices do not exist in both areas.
88 Reflections on Consumer Protection

There is less positive correlation between the opinions of sellers


in semi urban and rural sellers.
4. As regards price, in general shops, it was found that 44 percent
of semi urban sellers and 38 percent rural sellers felt that it is
either reasonable or highly reasonable. Only 42.5 percent of
sellers felt that it is unfair. It was found that majority of sample
sellers were of the opinion that time of supply of essential
commodities is reasonable. It was found that 47 percent of semi
urban sellers and 39 percent rural sellers felt that the time of
supply is well existing. However, 34.5 percent of sample sellers
were not happy about the time of supply.
5. For weights and measures, 56 percent of semi urban sellers
and 48 percent rural sellers felt that the weights and measures
are well existing. However, 21 percent sample sellers were not
happy about the weights of general shops. 41 percent of semi
urban sellers and 28 percent rural sellers felt that the packaging
is well existing. However, 42.5 percent of sample sellers were
not happy about the packaging of general shops.
6. 43 percent of semi urban sellers and 21 percent of rural sellers
felt that the consumers always or usually check prices and only
53 percent of sellers in rural area felt that the consumers either
rarely or never check prices. On the whole, 26.5 percent do not
check prices or rarely check prices. It is to be noted that habit of
checking price is higher in semi urban areas than in rural areas.
7. For the details of existence of right to be heard, 25.5 percent
said access method are very well known and 74.5 percent said
not known or not at all known. As regards ‘access whom’, 17
percent said very well-known and 68 percent said not known or
not at all known. As regards registering complaints, 24 percent
said highly reasonable or reasonable and 49.5 percent said as
not reasonable or not at all reasonable. As regards hearing by
sellers, 17 percent said highly reasonable or reasonable and
61.5 percent said not reasonable or not at all reasonable. As
regards hearing by officials, 33.5 percent said highly reasonable
or reasonable and 41.5 percent said not reasonable or not at all
reasonable.
8. For educational measures through government, 49 percent
said existing or well existing; for educational measures
Reflections on Consumer Protection 89

through public sector undertakings, 51 percent said existing


or well existing. For measures through NGOs, 44.5 percent
said existing or well existing; for consumer organizations,
39.5 percent said existing or well existing. For measures
through educational institutions, 44 percent said existing or
well existing. For measures through others, 45.5 percent said
existing or well existing. As per the opinion of sellers, public
sector organizations are educating consumers to the highest
extent, then comes the non-governmental organizations. The
third is educational institutions, the fourth is government, the
fifth is by others and the last one is consumer organizations.
It is inferred that the sample respondents recognize the role of
public sector undertakings and non-governmental organizations
in educating consumers. They are not accepting the measures
taken by consumer organizations. There is negative correlation
among the opinions of sample sellers of semi urban and rural
areas.
9. For redress through consumer forums, 20.5 percent said that
redress exists and 60 percent said that redress does not exist.
For redressal through consumer organizations, 20.5 percent felt
that redress exists and 57 percent did not feel so. On redressal
by self-initiative, 29 percent felt that they can get redress and
43.5 percent felt that they cannot get redress. The sellers felt
that redress measures through Consumer Forums or Consumer
Organizations and self-initiative are less. However, the concept
of court of law exists in rural areas. It is to be noted that there is
negative correlation in this regard between sample semi urban
and rural sellers.
10. The respondents were of the opinion that educational institutions
can be more effective than NGOs in generating awareness about
legal measures and giving impetus to consumer movement.

Response of Consumers
1. As regards consumers, the mean age of semi urban consumers
was 38.67 years; standard deviation is 12.26 years and
coefficient of variation is 31.70 percent. The mean age of
rural consumers was 34.33 years; standard deviation is 13.54
years and coefficient of variation is 39.43 percent. The overall
mean age of consumers was 36.50 years; standard deviation
90 Reflections on Consumer Protection

is 13.09 years and coefficient of variations 35.87 percent. It is


inferred that standard deviation and coefficient of variation of
age are higher among rural consumers than that of semi urban
consumers. The age of sample consumers significantly differs
with regard to the area.
2. In semi urban areas 74.7 percent of consumers were married
and 25.3 percent were unmarried. In the rural areas 61.3 percent
were married and 38.7 percent were unmarried. The mean
income of semi urban consumers is Rs. 5586.67 per month
and coefficient of variation is 41.25 percent. The mean income
of rural consumers is Rs. 3760 per month and coefficient of
variation is 61.3 percent. The overall mean income is Rs. 4673
and coefficient of variations is 53.05 percent. It is inferred that
mean income of semi urban consumers is more than that of
rural consumers and coefficient of variation is higher in the
case of rural consumers. The income of sample consumers
significantly differs with regard to area.
3. As regards occupation pattern of consumers in the semi urban
area, 36.7 percent were engaged in agriculture; 20.7 percent
were agricultural labour; 19.3 percent were employed; 11.3
percent were doing business and 12 percent belonged to the
other category. In the rural areas, 45.3 percent were engaged
agriculture; 24.7 percent were agricultural labour; 11.3
percent were employed; and 9.3 percent each belonged to the
business and others category. It is inferred that the majority of
respondents in entire areas i.e., semi urban and rural areas are
engaged in agriculture. The occupation of sample consumers
does not significantly differ with their area.
4. Among semi urban consumers, 74 percent were having less than 5
members in the family and only 26 percent were having more than
5 members in the family. Among rural consumers, 71.3 percent
have were having less than 5 members in the family and only
28.7 percent were having more than 5 members in the family. It is
inferred that the majority of the consumers in the entire areas i.e.,
semi urban and rural areas are having family size of 5 members
or below. The number of family members in the family of sample
consumers does not significantly differ with their area.
5. It was found that among the consumers in semi urban areas 60.7
percent visited general shop once or twice and only 39.3 percent
Reflections on Consumer Protection 91

visited more than twice. In the rural areas 73.3 percent visited
once or twice and only 26.7 percent visited general shops more
than twice for essential commodities. It is inferred that 67
percent of sample consumers visit general shops for essential
commodities either once or twice in a month. The periodicity of
visiting general shops differs with reference to area.
6. In semi urban areas 32.67 percent visited fair price shops once
or twice and 67.33 percent visited more than twice. In the
rural areas 72.00 percent visited once or twice and only 10.67
percent visited fair price shops more than twice for essential
commodities. It is inferred that 52.33 percent of sample
consumers visit fair price shops for essential commodities
either once or twice in a month. The periodicity of visiting fair
price shops differs with reference to area.
7. In urban areas, 68 percent have spent Rs. 3000 and only 32
percent have spent above Rs. 3000 in general shop. Among
rural area consumers 86 percent have spent below Rs. 3000
and only 14 percent have spent above Rs. 3000 in expenditure.
It is inferred that majority of the consumers in the entire area
spend Rs. 3000 or below in general shops as opined by the
sample consumers. The expenditure in general shop by sample
consumers significantly differs with their area.
8. As regards the commodity in which consumers faced maximum
deficiency in semi urban areas, 5.3 percent said rice; 32.7
percent said kerosene; 29.3 percent said sugar; 18 percent
opined medicine and 14.7 percent said others. In the rural areas,
7.3 percent said rice; 24.7 percent said kerosene; 26.7 percent
said sugar; 25.3 percent opined medicine and 16 percent said
others. The opinion of sample consumers on maximum deficient
commodity does not significantly differ as per the area.
9. On point of deficiency in essential services, in semi urban areas
5.3 percent said electricity; 31.3 percent said bus transport;
26.7 percent each said train and health and 10.00 percent said
telephone. In the rural areas, 2.7 percent said electricity; 24
percent said bus transport; 38 percent said train; 23.3 percent
said health and 12 percent said telephone. The opinion of sample
consumers on maximum deficient service does not significantly
differ with the area.
10. On the question of deficiency in other services, in semi urban
92 Reflections on Consumer Protection

areas 14 percent said its banking; 39.3 percent said insurance;


12.7 percent said water supply; 26 percent said postal and 8
percent said housing. In the rural areas, 12 percent said banking
and housing; 36 percent said insurance; 15.3 percent said
water supply; 24.7 percent said postal. The opinions of sample
consumers on maximum deficient services do not significantly
differ with the area.
11. On choice of remedies for complaints, in semi urban areas
16.7 percent wanted removal of defects; 16 percent asked for
replacement; 18 percent wanted cost to be returned; 29.3 percent
said prevent seller from selling and 20 percent said punish. In
the rural areas, 18 percent said removal of defect; 20.7 percent
said replacement; 14 percent said return cost; 31.3 percent said
prevent from selling and 16 percent said punish.
12. As regards the satisfaction with activities of officers in relation
to supply and distribution of essential commodities, it was
found that in semi urban area 41.3 percent consumers were
either highly satisfied or satisfied and 36 percent consumers
were not satisfied or not at all satisfied. In the rural area 48.7
percent consumers were either highly satisfied or satisfied and
24 percent consumers were not satisfied or not at all satisfied.
On the whole 45 percent are either highly satisfied or satisfied
and 30 percent are not satisfied or not at all satisfied. The level
of satisfaction of consumers in semi urban area is higher in the
case of seller activities and in rural areas it is higher in the case
of official activities. There is significant difference in level of
satisfaction with the official activities though no such difference
on sellers’ activities in relation to the area of sample consumers.
13. As regards knowledge of the Essential Commodities Act is
concerned, 23.33 percent said well known and 8.33 percent said
not at all known. On knowledge about the Consumer Protection
Act, 11.67 percent said well known and 8.67 percent said not at
all known. On knowledge about the Weights and Measures Act,
11.00 percent said well known and 16.00 percent said not at all
known. On knowledge of the Drugs Act, 9.67 percent said well
known and 21.67 percent said not at all known.
14. As regards prices in fair price shops, 52.7 percent of semi urban
consumers and 52.6 percent of rural consumers felt that it is
Reflections on Consumer Protection 93

either reasonable or highly reasonable and only 24 percent of


consumers in rural felt that it is unfair. For time of supply,
45.3 percent of semi urban consumers and 13.3 percent rural
consumers opined that the time of supply is well existing. On
quality aspects, 28.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 22
percent of rural consumers felt that the quality is well existing.
For margin of profit in fair price shop, 44 percent of semi urban
consumers and 26 percent of rural consumers felt that it is
either reasonable or highly reasonable and only 47.4 consumers
in rural felt that it is unfair.
15. On display of goods in fair price shops, 34.7 percent of semi
urban consumers and 10.7 percent of rural consumers felt
that the display is well existing. However, majority of sample
consumers 54.7 percent were not happy about the display of
goods in fair price shop. For information provided, 39.3 percent
consumers of semi urban and rural 13.4 percent consumers
opined that the information provided is well existing. However,
the majority of sample (62.7 percent) consumers were not happy
about the information provided.
16. For legibility in bills provided, 34.6 percent of semi urban
consumers and 26 percent rural consumers felt that the bills are
well existing. However, the majority of sample rural consumers
i.e. 56 percent were not happy about the issue of bills/ cash
memo. For weights and measurement, 39.4 percent of semi
urban consumers and 22 percent rural consumers felt that the
weights and measures is well existing. However, the majority of
sample rural consumers (64.7 percent) were not happy about the
weights and measures in fair price shops. On packing aspects,
30 percent of semi urban consumers and 34.7 percent rural
consumers felt that the packing is well existing. However, the
majority of sample rural consumers were not happy about the
packing in fair price shops.
17. There is fairness in price and differential pricing in fair price
shop. However, there is no fairness with regard to time of supply,
quality, margin, display, information, bills, weights, package
and usage aspects. The semi urban and rural consumers differ
significantly in relation to their opinion on various aspects of
Fair Price Shops.
94 Reflections on Consumer Protection

18. For prices in general shops, 38 percent of semi urban consumers


and 33.3 percent rural consumers felt that it is either reasonable
or highly reasonable. Only 36 percent of consumers in rural
area felt that it is unfair. For time of supply, 21.3 percent of
semi urban consumers and 33.3 percent rural consumers felt
that the time of supply is well existing. For quality, 27.3 percent
of semi urban consumer and 20.7 percent of rural consumers
felt that the quality is well existing. However, 43.3 percent were
not happy about the quality of general shops.
19. On margin of profit in general shops, 30 percent of semi urban
consumers and 35.4 percent of rural consumers felt that it is
either reasonable or highly reasonable and only 29.3 percent
of consumers in rural felt that it is unfair. For display details,
40.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 37.4 percent of rural
consumers opined that the display is well existing. However,
majority of sample rural consumers are not happy about the
display in general shop. For information provided, 44.7 percent
of semi urban consumers and 39.3 percent of rural consumers
felt that the information is well existing. For legibility of bills
etc., 58.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 64.6 percent
rural consumers felt that the bills is well existing.
20. For correct weights and measures, 34.7 percent of semi urban
consumers and 47.3 percent of rural consumers felt that the
weights and measurement is well existing. For package, it was
found that 16.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 16 per cent
rural consumers felt that the packing is well existing. However,
the majority of sample semi urban consumers are not happy
about the packing of general shops. For usage, 40.7 percent of
semi urban consumers and 16.7 percent rural consumers felt
that the usage is well existing. For differential prices, 30 percent
of semi urban consumers and 32.6 percent rural consumers felt
that it is either reasonable or highly reasonable. Only 48 percent
of consumers in entire area felt that it is unfair.
21. For the number of times the consumers are sold substandard
goods in semi urban areas, 27.33 percent said it was sold once;
24.67 percent said twice; 11.33 percent said thrice and 5.33
percent were sold more than three times. In rural areas, 33.33
percent were sold substandard goods once; 7.33 percent said
Reflections on Consumer Protection 95

twice; 4.67 percent said thrice and 9.33 percent said more than
three times. On the whole 34.33 percent were sold substandard
goods once; 14.33 percent twice; 8.00 percent thrice and 7.33
percent were sold more than three times. On the whole, 38.33
percent said that they were not sold substandard goods. The sale
of substandard goods to consumers does not differ in relation to
area.
22. Among the consumers in semi urban area 35.33 percent have
made complaint to the seller once; 21.33 percent complained
twice and 10.57 percent thrice. Among the consumers in rural
area 33.33 percent have lodged complaint once; 7.33 percent
complained twice, and 6.67 percent thrice. It was found that
42.67 percent have not lodged any such complaint with the
sellers. The complaining to seller significantly differs in relation
to area.
On making complaint, in semi-urban areas 26.00 percent
consumers got replacement of goods; 25.33 percent cases there
was no action; 7.33 percent received refusal; 8.67 percent had to
face enmity. In the rural areas, 23.33 percent got replacement;
in 5.33 percent there was no action; 12 percent received refusal;
6.67 percent had to face enmity. It is to be noted that 42.67
percent on the whole had not preferred any complaint. The
consequences of complaints differ in relation to area.
23. It is found that 40.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 22.6
percent of rural consumers either always or usually check
prices. Fifty percent of rural sample consumers either rarely or
never check the prices. On the whole, 12 percent always check
the price; 19.7 percent usually check the price; 32.3 percent
normally check the price; 29.3 percent rarely check and 6.7
percent do not check the price. Checking prices by consumers
differs significantly in relation to area.
Among the consumers in semi urban area 9.33 percent have
never been charged higher and 6.67 percent have been charged
higher price more than three times. In rural area, 9.33 percent
have not been charged higher and 24.67 percent have been
charged higher price more than three times. Charging higher
price by seller differs in relation to area.
24. For the existence of right to safety aspects in various activities,
96 Reflections on Consumer Protection

42.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 10.7 percent rural


consumers felt that the quality is existing or well existing.
However, majority of sample rural consumers i.e. 62.7 percent
were not happy about safety. On time of usage, 49.3 percent of
semi urban consumers and 52.6 per cent of rural consumers
felt that the time of usage is existing or well existing. However,
the majority of 14.6 percent of rural consumers were not happy
about the time of usage. For preservation, 45.3 percent of semi
urban consumers and 13.3 percent of rural consumers felt that
the preservation is existing or well existing. However, the
majority of rural consumers i.e. 68 percent were not happy about
the preservation aspects. For method of checking adulteration,
45.3 percent of semi urban consumers and 18.7 percent of rural
consumers felt that the method to check adulteration is well
existing. However, majority of rural consumers (63.3 percent)
were not happy about the method of checking adulteration as
part of right to safety. It is inferred that quality, preservation
and method of checking adulteration do not exist in rural areas.
There is some knowledge about time of usage. There is high
positive correlation between the opinion of semi urban and
rural areas.
The semi urban and rural consumers differ in their opinion on
the existence of quality, preservation and checking adulteration.
However, they do not significantly differ in their opinion on
time of usage.
25. 28.7 percent of semi urban consumers and 22 percent of rural
consumers said that information relating to quantity is well
existing. However, 43.67 percent of sample consumers were
not happy about information supplied on quantity. For display
aspects, 42.6 percent of semi urban consumers and 26 percent
of rural consumers felt that the display is either reasonable or
highly reasonable. Only 35.0 percent of consumers in both felt
that it is unfair. As regards the knowledge about the terms and
MRP is concerned, 42.7 percent of semi urban consumers and
10.7 percent of rural consumers said that the terms and MRP
are known. However, majority of sample consumers 55.33
percent did not know about the terms and MRP. 37.3 percent
of semi urban consumers and 13.4 percent of rural consumers
felt the LT Extra is well known. However, 45 percent did not
Reflections on Consumer Protection 97

know about the terms and LT extra. The information relating


to quantity does not exist in both areas and information is
not properly displayed in rural areas. Further the knowledge
about the terms, MRP and LT Extra does not exist among the
consumers of rural areas.
The right to information relating to quantity, display aspects,
knowledge about the Terms, MRP and LT extra differ
significantly among the semi urban and rural consumers.
26. For the right to be heard and access methods,32 percent of semi
urban consumers and 26 percent of rural consumers opined that
access method is well known. However, 44.33 percent did not
know about the access method. For knowledge about whom to
approach, it was found that 36 percent of semi urban consumers
and 22 percent of rural consumers knew whom to access.
However, majority of sample consumers did not know about
whom to access.
On method of registering complaints, 30 percent of semi
urban consumers and 34.7 percent of rural consumers said that
they know the method of registering complaints. However, 39
percent did not know how to register complaints. For hearing by
sellers, 32.7 percent semi urban consumers and 26 percent rural
consumers felt that it is either reasonable or highly reasonable.
Only 37.33 consumers felt that it is unfair. As regards hearing
by officials, 35.4 percent semi urban consumers and 42 percent
felt that it is either reasonable or highly reasonable. Only 28.33
percent of consumers felt that is unfair.
The consumers in semi urban and rural areas lack knowledge
about whom to access and the method of registering complaints.
The knowledge about access methods and hearing by officials
does not exist in rural areas. However, they knew that the sellers
are hearing the complaints to some extent. The semi urban and
rural consumers significantly differ in relation to their opinion
on access methods, whom to approach, registering complaints,
hearing by sellers and hearing by officials.
27. On consumer education initiatives by various agencies, it was
found that 28 percent of semi urban consumers and 42.7 percent
of rural consumers felt that the government measures exist.
28.6 percent of semi urban consumers and 35.3 percent of rural
consumers felt that public sector measures exist. 33.3 percent
98 Reflections on Consumer Protection

of semi urban consumers and 34 percent of rural consumers


felt that the measures by NGOs exist. 49.4 percent of semi
urban consumers and 35.3 percent of rural consumers said that
measures taken by consumer organizations are more. 45.33 per
cent of semi urban and 27.00 percent of rural consumers said
that measures taken by educational institutions exist. 44 percent
of semi urban consumers and 34 percent of rural consumers
were happy about the role of others in consumer education.
The existing method of promoting consumer awareness on
essential commodities is through educational institutions,
and then comes consumer organizations. The third is
through non-governmental organizations and the fourth is
through others. The role of government is considered least
by the sample consumers. The opinion about the existence of
consumer education by government, public sector, consumer
organizations, educational institutions and others significantly
differ among semi urban and rural consumers. However, their
opinion on the effectiveness of NGOs does not differ among
semi urban and rural areas.
28. In the semi urban areas, 22.00 percent felt that redress measures
through court of law are either existing or well existing and
53.33 percent felt that redress measures are either not existing
or not at all existing. In the rural areas, 27.33 percent felt that
redress measures are either existing or well existing, and 50.67
percent felt that redress measures are either not existing or not
at all existing. On the whole, 24.67 percent felt that redress
measures are either existing or well existing and 52.00 percent
felt that redress measures are either not existing or not at all
existing.
For redress through consumer forums, on the whole, 27.33
percent opined that redress measures are either existing or well
existing and 53.33 percent said that redress measures are either
not existing or not at all existing. For redress through consumer
organizations, 26.67 percent felt that redress measures are either
existing or well existing and 56.67 percent felt that redress
measures are either not existing or not at all existing. For redress
through self-initiative, 32.67 percent felt that redress measures
are either existing or well existing and 34.33 percent felt that
redress measures are either not existing or not at all existing. The
Reflections on Consumer Protection 99

redress measures do not seem to exist in both areas as opined by


the sample consumers.
The semi urban and rural consumers do not differ in their
perception on redress aspects by court of law and consumer
forums but they significantly differ on redress aspects by
consumer organizations and self-initiative.
29. According to the sample consumers the best method to
improve consumer rights in supply and distribution of essential
commodities is educating through educational institutions. Then
comes the consumer movement. The third is the steps taken
by NGOs. Then comes strict legal measures and government
rules. There is positive correlation between the opinions of
semi urban and rural consumers. The suggested measures for
improving consumer rights in essential commodities supply
and distribution significantly differ regarding educational
institutions and consumer movement. However, the suggested
measures do not significantly differ for government rules,
strict legal measures and steps taken by non-governmental
organizations.

IV Impact of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization

A Opinion of Officials
Impact of liberalization in relation to higher production,
competitive prices, awareness and remedy is less in rural areas. The
impact is less in both areas as regards higher quality. However, there
is negative correlation between the opinions of semi urban and rural
sample officials. As regards the impact of privatization on quantity
aspect is concerned, it was found that 30 percent in semi urban area
and 28 percent in rural area felt that change in quantity is higher. 28
percent in semi urban area and 38 percent in rural areas felt change
in awareness is higher. 30 percent in semi urban and 48 percent
in rural area felt that change in remedial measures has increased.
However, 37 percent of sample officials felt that remedy aspects
due to privatization have not changed significantly. The impact of
privatization in relation to production and competitive prices are
seen in semi urban areas. The impact is felt in production and quick
remedy in rural areas. There is positive correlation between the
opinions of semi urban and rural sample officials.
100 Reflections on Consumer Protection

There is negative change in social participation, i.e. the time


to take part in social events has decreased in semi urban and rural
areas. Educational spending, health spending, awareness on rights
etc. have increased. There is overall change in women empowerment
but is least in semi urban and rural areas. There is negative change
in standard of living in semi urban areas and overall change in
entertainment and housing type. There is positive correlation
between the opinions of semi urban and rural sample officials in this
regard. The officials were not in favour of specific government rules
or strict legal measures for consumer education. They suggested
that steps may be taken by non-governmental organizations and
educational institutions to enforce consumer movement. There is
positive correlation between the sample officials of semi-urban and
rural areas.

B. Opinion of Sellers
On impact of liberalization, privatization and globalization on
consumer rights, 55 percent of semi urban sellers and 54 percent of
rural sellers felt that the right to safety is at high change. 52 percent
of semi urban sellers and 38 percent of rural sellers felt that the
right to information is at high change. 31 percent of semi urban
sellers and 37 percent of rural sellers felt that the right to select is at
high change. It was found that 30 percent of semi urban sellers and
35 percent of rural sellers felt that the right to be heard is at high
change. 30 percent of semi urban sellers and 31 percent of rural
sellers felt that the right against exploitation is high at change. It is
found that 31 percent of semi urban sellers and 38 percent of rural
sellers felt that the right to redress is at high change. 39 percent
of semi urban sellers and 37 percent of rural sellers felt that the
consumer education is at high change.
The impact of LPG on consumer rights is highest on right to
safety, next comes right to information. The third is right to select
and the fourth is right against exploitation. Consumer education and
redress gets equal ranks i.e. 5.5. The next is the right to be heard. It
is to be noted that there is positive correlation between the opinion
of sample semi-urban and rural respondents.

C. Opinion of Consumers
For improved quality, 34.00 percent of semi urban and 27.33
percent of rural consumers felt the change is either high or very
Reflections on Consumer Protection 101

high. But on the whole, 46.00 percent felt that the change is less
or very less. For awareness, 51.33 percent of semi urban and 41.33
percent of rural consumers felt the change is either high or very
high. But on the whole, 40.00 percent felt that the change is less
or very less. For remedy, 62.00 percent of semi urban and 46.00
percent of rural consumers opined that the change is either high or
very high. But on the whole, 28.00 percent felt that the change is
less or very less.
The highest change due to liberalization is seen in remedy, and
then comes awareness, the third is quality. Less change is seen in
competitive prices and least change is noted in production aspect.
However, there is positive correlation in this aspect. The semi urban
and rural consumers do not significantly differ in their perception on
impact of liberalization on competitive prices and quality. However,
they differ in their perception on production, awareness and remedy
aspects.
For change in quantity, 20.33 percent said that there is change
or high change and 43.67 percent felt that there is less change or
least change. For increase in awareness, 26.00 percent felt that there
is change or high change and 35.00 percent felt that there is less
change or least change. For quick remedy, 29 percent said that there
is change or high change and 45.00 percent felt that there is less
change or least change.
On the impact of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization
for social participation, 68.00 percent of semi urban and 45.33
percent of rural consumers perceived change or higher change.
But on the whole 31.00 percent perceived less or least change.
For educational spending, 67.33 percent of semi urban and 56.00
percent of rural consumers perceived change or higher change. On
the whole 25.67 percent perceived less or least change. For health
spending, 58.67 percent of semi urban and 43.33 percent of rural
consumers perceived change or higher change. But on the whole
24.67 percent perceived less or least change. For awareness on rights,
51.33 percent of semi urban and 34.67 percent of rural consumers
perceived change or higher change. But on the whole 34.33 percent
perceived less or least change.
For women empowerment, 39.33 percent of semi urban and
24.67 percent of rural consumers perceived change or higher change.
But on the whole 45.67 percent perceived less or least change. For
102 Reflections on Consumer Protection

standard of living, 36.00 percent of semi urban and 24.00 percent of


rural consumers perceived change or higher change. But on the whole
34.33 percent perceived less or least change. For entertainment, 38.00
percent of semi urban and 25.33 percent of rural consumers perceived
change or higher change. But on the whole 41.00 percent perceived
less or least change. For housing type, 40.67 percent of semi urban
and 30.67 percent of rural consumers perceived change or higher
change. But on the whole 35.67 percent perceived less or least change.
On the impact of LPG on consumer rights, for Right to safety,
40.00 percent either agreed or strongly agreed with impact and
40.00 percent disagrees or strongly disagreed with the change. For
Right to Information, 46.67 percent either agreed or strongly agreed
with impact and 41.33 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with
the change. For Right to Choose 31.00 percent either agreed or
strongly agreed with impact and 32.00 percent disagreed or strongly
disagreed with the change.
For Right to be heard, 35.33, percent either agreed or strongly
agreed with impact and 38.67 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed
with the change. For Right to Redress, 48.00 percent either agreed or
strongly agreed with impact and 30.00 percent disagreed or strongly
disagreed with the change. For Right to consumer education, 52.67
percent either agreed or strongly agreed with impact and 29.00
percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the change.
As regards impact of LPG, it is inferred that there is highest
change in right to consumer education, then comes right to redress.
The third is right to safety. Least change is in right to information
as opined by the sample consumers. There is positive correlation
among the opinions of sample semi urban and rural consumers.
The impact of LPG on right to safety and right to consumer
education do not significantly differ in semi urban and rural areas.
However the opinion differs for rights to information, select, to be
heard, and redress.

Suggestions
• Consumer Price Index in some cities of Tamil Nadu such as
Chennai, Tiruchirappalli etc is higher than that of All India
Index. Steps may be taken to minimize the price level in those
specific cities by devising target oriented programmes.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 103

• On an average 1187 ration cards are attached to each shop in the


State of Tamil Nadu. Even if a consumer has to visit a shop at
least thrice in a month, the shops serve an average of 141 (1187
cards x 3 times / 25 days) cards per day. This can be minimized
by providing all ration items on a single day to consumers.
Otherwise the distribution burden of the seller and frequency of
visit of card holder multiplies.
• Effective steps have been taken by the Government to locate
fair price shops within a distance of 2 kilo metres. This step is
highly commendable and this model can be followed by other
states.
• Discrepancy in supply of sugar seems to be higher in semi
urban and rural areas. Discrepancy is higher for kerosene in
rural areas. This can be corrected by supplying fixed quantity
to cardholders on specific days. Lack of information on date of
supply of sugar is the reason for such discrepancy or deficiency.
• Health services seem to be poor in semi urban and rural areas.
Modern information technology improvements such as video
conferencing and online health checkups can improve the
situations to a greater extent.
• Insurance and banking services are poor in semi urban and
rural areas. Installing ATMs and online information centres
may minimize the sense of deficiency in service in these areas.
• Effective remedy is a cognitive aspect and be ensured only
through preventing future selling and punishing the erring
sellers. Hence modified punishment measures can be imposed
to minimize the wrongdoings in relation to supply of essential
commodities.
• Prices are reasonable in fair price shops; rice is supplied at
Rs.2 per Kg. This system can be well adopted in other states to
improve satisfaction level of consumers.
• Display of price and quantity available in all shops should be
made mandatory in relation to essential commodities. These
measures should be strictly enforced.
• Computerized bills or printed bills with quantity and rate can
be used so that the legibility of bills can be improved in both
semi urban and rural areas.
104 Reflections on Consumer Protection

• Differential prices i.e. subsidized prices to a section improve the


utility of fair price shops. Differential prices are not a problem
to consumers in general. Poor, old and orphans can be provided
essential commodities even at a lower cost with special type of
cards.
• Quality of products supplied through fair price shops should
be improved. Essential commodities are not luxury goods;
they are for the basic livelihood of consumers. Deterioration in
standards may lead to health problems and there will be overall
deterioration in health standards in the state.
• Weights and measures may have been standardized and supplied
to all fair price shops. But the weighing and measuring methods
are not at all satisfactory. Hence the government can think in
terms of supplying items in a pre-packed manner. For example,
sugar can be supplied in packs of one kg or two kg. This will
minimize the dissatisfaction due to unethical methods followed
in weights and measures.
• The sellers may be given instructions to replace the substandard
goods immediately on getting complaints. This should be made
mandatory.
• Rural people may be educated with regard to complaint methods
and remedies available so that they can complain in case of
wrong doings. Cell phone numbers through which complaint
can be made to the officials may be prominently displayed in
the premises of shops.
• Meaning for English words such as MRP, LT Extra may be
translated and written in local language on information boards
in the shops so that the consumer gets knowledge about these
terms.
• The address and phone number of the official to whom
complaint can be made should be prominently displayed in all
shops selling essential commodities so that the consumer can
use his right to be heard in case of irregularities.
• Public sector organizations and educational institutions can
be utilized to educate the consumers on consumer rights. A
separate paper on consumers’ rights can be made compulsory
in all schools.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 105

• Redressal measures are not satisfactory. Redressal aspects


can be improved only if the consumer is given the right to get
replacement for the substandard products. Hence right to get
replacement may improve the concept of redressal.
• Liberalization has paved ways for improved information aspects
but this awareness is less in rural areas. Merits of liberalization
and privatization may be published in leading journals so that
even the rural consumer gets knowledge about liberalization
and privatization.
• Social participation may increase the knowledge about the
environmental aspects. Periodic social gathering may empower
the consumer and encourage him to make reasonable claims of
his rights in the society.
• Expenditure on sugar and kerosene seem to be higher and steps
may be taken to supply sugar and kerosene at reasonable rates
to those who are living below poverty line. Differential price
for kerosene can be followed.
• Lack of knowledge about a product or service may create
confusion and the consumer may think that the commodity is
substandard in nature. Providing reasonable knowledge about
various essential commodities may minimize the false notions
in the mind of the customer.
• Cost of medicines has affected the consumers to a higher extent.
Pricing of drugs on the basis of generic names may definitely
reduce the price. Government can go in for life saving drugs and
drugs meant for elders. This problem can surely explode if strict
drug price control measures are not taken by the government.
Hence drugs prices should be controlled within a reasonable
time.

Conclusion
Common consumer in India pays for the commodity and service
from his hard earned income but is mostly treated unethically in
most of the organizations. From the womb to the tomb, consumers
are prejudiced by plethora of institutions, may be in public sector
or private sector or individual businessman, where each promise to
provide or deliver something or quality services such as essential
goods or services, but fails in reality. Legislations, self-regulations
106 Reflections on Consumer Protection

and social responsibility are the need of the hour and therefore,
not only the States but also private individuals should come
forward to realize the situation and move forward to take note of
the development in the modern society, especially the aspects of
excessive commercialization, aggressive marketing and unethical
advertisement which are exploiting the consumers. Survival of
the consumers’ rights and their prosperity depend on the activities
of social, political and economic groups which play their part in
promoting rights and interests of the common man in the society. The
governments are taking considerable steps to protect the consumer
rights and welfare but their future continuance cannot be assured due
to globalization, growth of cross culture, excessive generalization
and unethical political directions. Hence integrated steps are to
be taken by the individuals, groups, consumer organizations and
government to protect the interests of the consumers especially in
supply and distribution of essential commodities.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 107

5
A Study on Consumer
Awareness among Arts and
Science College Students
in Tamil Nadu with Special
Reference to Thanjavur
District

C. Subramanian

Introduction
The consumer is a person who receives goods or services in
return for a payment. “Consumer is one who consumes or uses
something”. Thus a person consumes foods, cloth, medicines and
a host of other articles. A machine also consumes energy or air
while working. But the words ‘consumer’ and ‘consume’ are used
in a restricted sense. In the present context, the term ‘consumer’
includes only human beings and not animals or machines. The
term ‘consume’ relates only to articles purchased and not obtained
freely like air, water etc. The Latin term ‘Consumo’ means, “eat up
completely” which understandably led to the current use of the term
‘consumer’. Any person who buys goods and services for personal
consumption and not for commercial purpose or resale is called a
consumer.
Consumers form the largest economic group in any country.
They are the pivots of all economic activities. The concept
of consumerism is almost new in India. Various scholars and
consumerist define it variously. But strictly speaking the concept
has wider connotations. In fact, consumerism refers to the activities
of several individuals and organized groups for asserting their rights
as consumers. Consumerism is defined by Richard H. Buskirk
and James and Rothe (1970) as "organized efforts of consumers
108 Reflections on Consumer Protection

seeking redress, restitution and remedy for dissatisfaction they have


accumulated in the acquisition of their standard of living”.
The advancement of technology and the aggressive marketing
strategies in the era of globalization have not only thrown open
a wide choice for the consumers but also rendered the consumer
vulnerable to a plethora of problems associated with such rapid
changes. Today’s youth are the pillars of the nation. They are going
to be the future leaders, administrators, managers, bureaucrats and
policy-makers. Consumer awareness among the youth is defining
factor for economic growth and well-being. The vast Indian
population, which has the highest percentage of youth among the
growing economy, makes it imperative to undertake this study on
consumer awareness among the youth.

Consumer Behaviour
According to Webster, “consumer behaviour is all psychological,
social and physical behaviour of potential customers. They become
aware of, the value of the purchase, and after consuming they tell
other people about product and services.” Consumer behaviour
“is the process whereby individuals decide whether, what, when,
where, how and from whom to purchase goods and service.”
Consumer buying behaviour refers to the buying behaviour of
final consumers-individuals and households who buy goods and
services for personal consumption. Buyer's behaviour on the other
hand leads to an end in the process of purchasing and in this process,
two activities take place on the part of the buyer.
i) The thought process that analyses and decides what to buy,
when to buy, how to buy etc., and
ii) The resultant activity viz., accepting or rejecting a product.
Fig. figure
1: Factors Influencing
1: factors Influencing Consumer
Consumer Behaviour Behaviour

Cultural Social Personal Psychological

o Culture o Reference groups o Age and Life Cycle o Motivation


o Sub Culture o Family Stage o Perception
o Social class o Roles and Status o Occupation o Beliefs and
attitudes
Reflections on Consumer Protection 109

A buyer’s purchase decisions are influenced primarily by


cultural, social, personal and psychological factors. The markets do
not control these factors, but they cannot ignore their effects on the
consumer behaviour.

World Consumer Movement


The consumer movement as a countervailing defensive force
to safeguard the interest of the consumers from the abuses of
economically powerful sellers originated in the United States and
it spread gradually to many other countries in the world. In some
countries it became a deep-rooted movement and in other highly
competitive. The nations where the consumer movement has shown
much strength are United States of America, Britain, Germany,
New Zealand, France and Japan. Besides this, there have been found
signs of new efforts in a number of other countries. Developments
and methods of coping with it differed from country to country and
consumer awareness also varied from one country to another. It was
neither exclusive to any specific country, nor was it confined to any
particular continent.

Development of Consumer Movement in India


Prior to 1950, Consumer Protection Council was established
in Madras under the guidance of Shri Rajagopalachari. After
a decade or two, consumer groups started sprouting in various
parts of India, most of them dealing with local issues. In 1956,
nine housewives and social workers joined together to form the
Consumer Guidance Society of India in Bombay. It was only in
mid-sixties, the consumer movement gained momentum in India.
In 1971, the Indian Consumers’ Union was registered in New Delhi,
with the aim of fighting against the spiraling prices of essential
commodities. In 1978, the Consumer Education and Research
Centre was formed in Ahmadabad. Since then there has been no
looking back. The number of registered consumer groups in India
is constantly increasing. Most of the consumer groups have been
started and carried on by the members of the educated middle class.

Voluntary Organizations for Consumers in India


By observing the objectives of consumerism, one can
understand that mere government support and legislation may not
be able to accomplish the objectives. As the basic issue is concerned
110 Reflections on Consumer Protection

with the welfare of people they have to take the initiative to fight
against unscrupulous businessmen. The success of the movement
very much depends upon the concerted efforts of groups of people.
As a natural outcome of frustrations, the consumer movement has
taken the shape of consumer organizations speaking for them. Now-
a-days, the government also provides financial aid and other sorts
of encouragement for the establishment of consumer organizations.
The following are some of the voluntary organizations formed
to protect the interests of consumers:
1. Voluntary Organization in the interest of Consumer Education,
New Delhi. (VOICE)
2. Indian Federation of Consumer Organizations, New Delhi
(IFCO).
3. The Consumer Guidance Society of India, Bombay (CGSI).
4. Consumer Education and Research Centre, Ahmedabad
(CERC).
5. Voluntary Health Association of India, New Delhi (VHAI).
6. All-India Drug Action Network (AIDAN).
7. Consumer Council of India, Madras.
8. Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat, Pune (ABGP).
9. All-India Consumer Council, Hyderabad.
10. Karnataka Consumers' Service Society, Bangalore.
11. Consumer Action Forum, Calcutta.
12. National Consumers’ Co-operative Federation, Delhi.
13. Save the consumers Movement of India, Madras.
14. Federation of Consumers Organizations: Tamil Nadu and
Puducherry (FEDCOT).

Consumer Organizations in Tamil Nadu


Consumer Organizations have resulted as a consequence of
the frustrated psyche of the common man, who faces all kinds of
inequalities and injustices in the hands of the businessmen. The
earliest efforts to organize consumers in India were in 1949 – 50.
Shri R.R. Dalavai, a sprightly old Gandhian in Madras, started the
Reflections on Consumer Protection 111

first formal consumer movement in 1949. The Consumer Protection


Council established in Madras under the patronage of Shri C.
Rajagopalachari confined its work only to the people of Tamilnadu.
In Tamilnadu alone there are over 300 voluntary consumer
organizations. They have achieved a legal status by formally
registering themselves as a society under the State’s Societies
Registration Act or under the Indian Trusts Act, as Public Trusts.
Some are letter-head organizations, which function only on paper.
There is no concrete activity. Many consumer groups have joined
together to form federations.
The Federation of the Consumer Organizations of Tamilnadu
has consumer councils as its members. The federation involves
itself in training and advocacy activities. The little known consumer
councils have gained ascendancy after becoming members of the
federation and they get an opportunity to represent their views in
large forums, at the national and international levels. About 250
voluntary consumer organizations, spread all over Tamilnadu, are
affiliated to FEDCOT and it has been able to spread the consumer
movement in all the districts of Tamilnadu. It has been able to create
greater awareness among consumers of their rights.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986


The sole object of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is to
provide consumer protection and consumer education. The Indian
Parliament enacted the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 which
received the assent of the President of India on 24.12.1986. The
Act, except Chapter-III, came into force with effect from April 15,
1987. Chapter-III, which deals with the establishment of Consumer
Dispute Redressal Agencies, came into force from July 1, 1987. The
Act gives six important rights to the consumers as explained in
Section 6. These are:
A. Right to safety;
B. Right to information;
C. Right to choose;
D. Right to be heard;
E. Right to seek redressal; and
F. Right to consumer education.
112 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Right to Safety
Article 21 of the Constitution gives an important right of
protection of life and personal liberty. It provides that no person
shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according
to procedure established by law. Except the courts, no person or
government can do injury to any person. When the Government
is also not competent to cause harm or injury to any person, shall
a seller or trader be allowed to do so? No. Hence the Act stresses
on “Right to Safety”. No manufacturer or seller is entitled or
authorized to sell goods or provide services, which are hazardous,
and dangerous to the life and health of the human beings.
“Right to safety” means “the consumer has the right to be
protected against the marketing of goods and services which are
hazardous to life and property, due to the defective design, poor
workmanship, negligence, defective ingredients, etc. The goods
or services may cause serious injury to the consumer’s property
or to body or to his near ones or to his guests. Sometimes, it may
lead to incidence of the death. Hence the Consumer has the right
to have good quality and defect-free goods or services. The greedy
manufacturers may manufacture the defective goods and release
them in the market. For example, if a toy manufacturer makes
certain toys for children below 10 years; the toy should not hurt the
child and also other persons surrounding him. If the toy is defective,
and that toy injures the child, then the manufacturers and service
providers is held responsible. It is the legal duty of the manufacturers
and service providers that goods or services should not cause injury
or harm to the consumers.

Right to Information
It is the second right afforded to the consumers by the Act.
“Right to Information” means “the consumer has the right to be
informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard,
model, price of goods or services so as to protect him against the
restrictive and unfair trade practices. The consumers need to be
informed about products and services so that they can make better
consumption decisions.”
“Caveat emptor” (Let the buyer beware) was an old philosophy
of law. Now the philosophy of “Caveat venditor” (Let the seller
beware) has occupied the place of the old principle of “Let
Reflections on Consumer Protection 113

buyer beware.” The seller has to render to the consumers all the
information about the goods or services, which he is going to sell.
In our country, consumers do not ask for the required information.
They solely depend upon the sellers. This leads to exploitation.
“Information” about the goods or services is an important thing in
sale of goods or services. Information gives merits and demerits,
uses and difficulties, prices, standards, variety of goods, etc. It is
the responsibility of the manufacturers and sellers to ensure that
goods meet reasonable demands of durability, suitability, utility
and reliability. The present day tendency of consumerism is: “the
seller should not sell goods what he has, but the consumer should
get goods what he needs.” They should give fair treatment to the
consumers. If there is lack of sufficient information, the consumer
is put to heavy loss. Lack of information leads the consumer to take
in correct decision, particularly in shopping. The Act envisages this
important right to the consumers.

Right to Choose
The third important right is that the consumer should have the
right of choice. “Right to Choose” means, “the consumer should
have chances of choosing his required goods from a variety of
goods and services at competitive and reasonable rates.” The sellers
should not enjoy monopoly in the market, and should not adopt
restrictive trade practices. The sellers should sell variety of goods
with good standards in fair and effective manner. There must be
a healthy competition among the traders/manufacturers. All the
sellers should aim to win the consumer by rendering good services
and selling good quality goods with lowest cost. There must be
greatest range of choice available among the products at reasonable
and competitive prices. The manufacturers and distributors should
provide after-sales service centers and see that the spare parts of the
goods should be available in the market in abundance.

Right to be Heard
Previous to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the aggrieved
consumer has to seek his remedies under the other Acts, such as
the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, the Code of Criminal Procedure,
1973, the Indian Contract Act, 1872, Monopolies and Restrictive
Trade Practices Act, 1969, etc. All these Acts provide exhaustive
and complicated legal procedures. Consumers are in crores. Their
114 Reflections on Consumer Protection

consumption capacity of goods and services is limited, ranging


from rupees one to 1,00,000/-. The consumers are untrained. They
are busy in their day-to-day activities and livelihood and they can
not concentrate on the disputes pertaining to small items such as
food, clothes, entertainments, etc. Moreover, the Indian people are
most tolerant persons; they neglect their right's. Besides this, there
are several other problems in approaching the civil courts for the
redressal of small consumer disputes. These courts are already
overburdened with the large number of pending cases and cannot
concentrate on the smaller disputes such as consumer disputes. If
a consumer filed a case in the ordinary civil court, it took years
to finalize. Further, the consumer was compelled to pay court-fee,
advocate’s fee, etc. That is why the consumers were not in favour of
filing case in civil court against the manufacturers. Taking advantage
of this, the manufacturers, traders, sellers began to exploit and rob
crores of rupees from the consumers.

Right to Seek Redressal


The fifth consumer right is the right to seek redressal. The
consumer has the right to seek redressal against defective goods,
deficient services, and restrictive and unfair trade practices,
irrespective of quantum of money. The Act enables the Central and
State Governments to establish the consumer disputes redressal
agencies at three levels. The aggrieved consumer can file appeals
before Sate Commission and National Commission. If he is not
satisfied with decision of National Commission, he can also file
an appeal before the Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority
in India. The Act explains the procedure and provisions for early
disposal of the cases. It imposes the limitation on the redressal
agencies to dispose the cases within the prescribed time limit. The
Act provides simple, speedy, inexpensive and accurate justice to the
consumers.

Right to Consumer Education


An important right provided by the Act is “right to consumer
education”. The object of inclusion of this right is to promote
consumer education. For this purpose, the Act also provides the
provisions for the establishment of “Consumer Councils”- National
Council at National level, State Councils at State level and District
Councils in the District. The functions and objects of these councils
Reflections on Consumer Protection 115

are to protect the consumers, promote the awareness amongst them


and search ways and means for consumer protection and education.
The Government has taken many initiatives to educate consumers.
The books and pamphlets are printed on consumer rights and
distributed among the consumers. Video spots on consumer issues are
screened and released in theatres or TVs. Articles are also published
in newspapers to educate consumers. The Government of India and
State Governments screen advertisements in the theatres explaining
the injury and harm caused by consuming pan masalas, gutkas and
cigarettes. The governments also advertise very extensively about
AIDS, malaria, cholera, etc. They urge the two-wheeler drivers to
wear helmets for the consumers’ safety.

Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies


Section 9 to 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 explains
the detailed and necessary provisions about the “Consumer Disputes
Redressal Agencies”. Section 9 lays down the provisions about the
establishment of consumer disputes redressal agencies.
Sec. 9. Establishment of Consumer Disputes Redressal Agencies.
There shall be established for the purposes of this Act, the following
Agencies, namely:
(a) A Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to be known as the
“District Forum” established by the State Government in each
district of the State by notification;
Provided that the State Government may, if it deems fit, establish
more than one District Forum in a District.
(b) A Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to be known as
the “State Commission” established by the State Government in
the State by notification; and
(c) A National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
established by the Central Government by notification.
The Act empowers the Central Government to establish three
tier Consumer Redressal Agencies, viz. the National Commission
for entire India; the State Commission for every State and the District
Consumer Forum for every District. The District Consumer Forum
has the jurisdiction to entertain complaints not exceeding rupees
twenty lakhs. The State Commission has the jurisdiction to entertain
116 Reflections on Consumer Protection

the complaints exceeding twenty lakhs but not exceeding one crore,
besides the appellate power over District Forums. The National
Commission can hear the complaints exceeding one crore. It has
appellate powers over the State Commission. Sections 9 to 15 explain
the provisions about the District Consumer Fora. Sections 16 to 19
explain the provisions about the State Commission. Sections 20 to 23
explain the provisions about the National Commission. Sections 24
to 27 explain finality of orders, limitations, enforcement, dismissal
of frivolous or vexatious complaints, penalties, etc. applicable to all
Consumer Redressal Agencies.
Section10 (1) lays down that each District Forum shall consist
of a person who is, or has been, or is qualified to be a District Judge,
who shall be its President; and two other members, one of whom
shall be a woman. The State Commission is headed by a retired
High Court judge. Besides this, it shall have not less than two and
not more than such number of members as may be prescribed, and
one of whom shall be a woman.
Among the consumer redressal agencies, the National
Commission is the apex body at the Centre. It is headed by a
President who, shall be a person who is or has been a Judge of the
Supreme Court. He shall be appointed by the Central Government
after consultation with the Chief Justice of India. In addition it shall
have not less than four and not more than such number of members,
as may be prescribed, and one of whom shall be woman. This
condition is imposed by the Consumer Protection (Amendment)
Act, 1993 with an object to safeguard the “Independence of National
Commission”.

The Present Study


In India Consumer behaviour has changed now. They are
purchasing goods from big shopping mall or online. This study
mainly focuses on students, because they are compulsive buyers
and get more attracted to different kind of products, branded or
local. Hence the study consists of knowledge and awareness of
consumerism among students and how much they are practically
applying it. The present study also tries to examine awareness on
consumer rights, consumer behaviour, participation in consumer
clubs and knowledge on consumer council and Consumer Protection
Act, 1986.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 117

Statement of the Problem


Consumerism now a day includes many things within its
compass. This term means different things to different people.
The most common understanding of consumerism is in reference
to protection of consumers against abuses by the manufacturers
and sellers. This includes cheating and other malpractices in the
market as well as dangers to health and safety of individual from
various types of products. There can be no two opinions that the
consumer needs to be protected against some glaring exploitation by
the businessmen. Thus consumerism is also considered to include
protection of consumers.
Consumerism is a fundamental aspect of national progress.
Enlightened consumers are very essential for any nation to protect
and safeguard against environmental pollution and pollution of
physical environment. Aware people are greatly concerned with
the maintenance of ecological balance and conservation of natural
resources. One need not be surprised, if in future the emphasis of
consumerism moves from industry towards ending human hunger
and malnutrition; alleviation of pollution of air, water and soil; and
educating and training the disadvantaged towards solving these and
other problems of society.
For the good of the human beings, consumer education is an
inevitable aspect for rural as well as urban people, both buyers and
sellers. There is need to analyse how much the youth especially
students are aware of consumerism. The recent developments due
to globalization and the factors that drive markets need to be studied
to create awareness for optimum consumer satisfaction. This is the
prime aim and objective of this study. The vast Indian population,
which has the highest percentage of youth among the growing
economy, makes it imperative to undertake this study to determine
consumer awareness among the youth. Consumer awareness among
the youth is defining factor for economic growth and well-being.
The target group of the college students in the age group of 18 to
25 years was chosen to make the study meaningful and viable for
other related relevant studies that will contribute to studying the
patterns that will emerge in the near future. This study is imperative
to analyse the current trends among the prime youth target group
i.e. the Arts and Science College students who act as the peer or role
models to other youth in consumer behaviour. This study mainly
118 Reflections on Consumer Protection

covers awareness on consumer rights, knowledge on functioning of


consumer councils, participation in consumer clubs and consumer
movement, consumer behaviour and involvement in selecting products.

Objectives of the Study


v To find out awareness about the consumers’ rights;
v To investigate consumer behaviour in selecting products;
v To study the level of consumer knowledge on functioning of
consumer councils;
v To examine the participation of the respondents in consumer
clubs and consumer movement; and
v To analyse the association if any between selected socio-
economic variables with the dependent variables.

Research Methodology
The descriptive cum diagnostic design was adopted in the study.
The students those who were studying in final year UG Courses in
the Arts and Science colleges (Government colleges: 6, Government
Aided colleges: 5 and Private self-financed colleges:18) of Thanjavur
district were the universe of the study (total = 9857, male 4482,
female 5375). It was decided to have minimum 1000 samples for this
study. Further it was decided to select 40 samples from each college
and hence by using Stratified Disproportionate Random Sampling
Technique. 40 samples were selected from each college. For boys’
colleges (1 College) all the samples were male and girls’ colleges
(5 Colleges) all the samples were girls. From every co-educational
college (23 Colleges), which has sufficient student strength in the
3rd year, 20 boys and 20 girls were selected as respondents. In
few colleges as the 3rd year students were less, all of them were
selected as respondents. Altogether the sample strength was 1040.
The researcher generated self-prepared questionnaire concentrating
on the aspects of socio-economic data, awareness about consumer
rights, consumer behaviour, participation in consumer clubs,
knowledge about consumer council, etc. The questionnaire that was
used for the students consisted of 55 questions. The primary data
required for the study were collected in the period from November
2007 to January 2008.
The sample selection details are given in Table 1.
Table 1: Sample Distributtion
List of Colleges
Name and Address Total No. of Students U.G. Final year Sample
students
(Universe)
Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total
1 Abi & Abi College, Thanjavur 320 261 581 75 112 187 20 20 40
(Co-ed)
2 Adaikalamatha College, Thanja- 901 520 1421 173 108 281 20 20 40
vur. (Co-ed)
3 AVVM Sri Pushpam College of 4170 1789 5959 1132 320 1452 20 20 40
Arts& Science, Thanjavur (Co-ed)
Reflections on Consumer Protection

4 Bharath College of Arts & Sci- 1619 934 2553 397 152 549 20 20 40
ence, Thanjavur (Co-ed)
5 Bon Secours College of Arts & 0 1018 1018 0 172 172 0 40 40
Science for Women, Thanjavur
6 Kunthavai Nachiar Govt. Arts 0 3363 3363 0 950 950 0 40 40
& Science College for Women,
Thanjavur
7 Maruthu Pandiar College of Arts 470 600 1070 50 73 123 20 20 40
& Science (Co-ed), Thanjavur
8 N. M. Venkadasamy Nattar Col- 25 152 177 12 20 32 12 20 32
lege of Arts & Science(Co-ed),
Thanjavur
119
9 Nalli Kuppusamy College of Arts 0 300 300 0 100 100 0 40 40
120

& Science for Women, Thanjavur


10. PRIST University (Co-ed), Than- 1527 1250 2777 327 200 527 20 20 40
javur
11. Rajah Sarfoji Govt. Arts College, 1674 754 2428 421 202 623 20 20 40
Thanjavur (Co-ed)
12. Swami Vivekananda College of 75 125 200 12 20 32 12 20 32
Arts & Science, Thanjavur (Co-ed)
13. T.U.K Arts College, Thanjavur 968 1126 2094 210 260 470 20 20 40
(Co-ed)
14. Rajah’s College, Thiruvaiyaru 26 366 392 28 175 203 20 20 40
(Co-ed)
15. Music College, Thiruvaiyaru(- 64 56 120 0 12 12 0 12 12
Co-ed)
16. R.D.B College of Arts & Science 562 362 924 87 81 168 20 20 40
College, Papanasam (Co-ed)
17. Annai College of Arts & Science 1000 800 1800 200 235 435 20 20 40
College, Kumbakonam (Co-ed)
18. Govt. Boy’s College, Kumbakonam 3100 1800 4900 420 175 595 20 20 40
19. Govt. Women’s College, Kumba- 0 3067 3067 731 731 0 40 40
konam
20. Idaya College of Arts & Science 0 1022 1022 0 222 222 0 40 40
for women, Kumbakonam
21. Shanmuga College of Arts & Sci- Not Cooper- for this Re-
ence, Kumbakonam ated search
Reflections on Consumer Protection
22. S.K.S.D.S Arts & Science College, 1305 230 1535 415 365 780 20 20 40
Thiruppanandal
(Co-ed)
23. Mass College of Arts & Science, 722 301 1023 7 0 7 0 7 7
Kumbakonam (Co-ed)
24. Shankara Arts & Science College, 67 79 146 17 11 28 17 11 28
Kumbakonam (Co-ed)
25. Govt. Fine Arts College, Kumba- 257 35 292 20 9 29 20 9 29
konam (Co-ed)
Dharmambal Ramasamy College 14 40 54 11 9 20 11 9 20
26. of Arts & Science, Orathanadu
(Co-ed)
27. Enathi Rajappa College of Arts & 452 367 819 112 120 232 20 20 40
Reflections on Consumer Protection

Science, Pattukkottai (Co-ed)


28. Meenakshi Chandrasekaran Arts 0 1025 1025 0 280 280 0 40 40
& Science College for Women,
Pattukkottai (Co-ed)
29. Kathar Moihdeen College of Arts 1191 628 1819 249 168 417 20 20 40
& Science, (Co-ed) Athiram-
patinam
30. Sri Venkateswara College of Arts 246 410 656 107 93 200 20 20 40
& Science, Peravurani (Co-ed)
Total 20755 22780 43535 4482 5375 9857 392 648 1040
121
122 Reflections on Consumer Protection

The data collected from the selected respondents was scrutinized


and transcribed before the commencement of tabulation. While
preparing the tables the master cards were used to easily sort out
the information collected from the respondents. The frequency
distribution was used by the researcher to arrive at percentage
figures. Diagrams were also used in the study. In order to analyze
the association between some of the independent and dependent
variables, the statistical analysis namely ‘chi-square test’ was
applied in this study.

Limitations of the Study


The study was undertaken to study the consumer awareness
among students who belonged to the Arts and science Colleges
in Thanjavur District. Hence this study was limited to the section
of youth, which comprises of college students. This study varies
from earlier studies which were limited to certain specific products
but here general trends and consumer behaviour on whole range
of consumer products that are accessible to the students has been
studied. The awareness and knowledge base has been probed mainly
through closed ended questionnaires.
This study was limited to Thanjavur district because it is one of
the most important districts in Tamilnadu for various reasons. It is
the rice bowl of this state. It has the large number of hectares under
irrigated cultivation fed by the River Cauvery and its tributaries.
This district is the cradle of Carnatic music and Bharathanatyam
dance. The rich cultural heritage is manifest in the ancient temples
all over the district.

Major Findings of the Study


Ø The findings reveal that most of the respondents hail from rural
areas. They live below the poverty line. Half of them are aware
of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. It was recorded that
more than half of the respondents were aware of the consumer
rights that they enjoyed. The random sampling also established
the fact that majority of the respondents were aware of their
right to safety i.e. 74.27 percent, the right to be informed
(78.04 percent), the right to choose (81.65 percent), right to be
heard (62.95 percent), right to redressal (62.61 percent) and the
right to consumer education (71.36 percent). A majority of the
respondents have stated that they were aware of the standardized
Reflections on Consumer Protection 123

symbols (ISO, ISI, Hallmark). Most of the respondents perceive


the Government to be protecting the rights of the consumers
against adulteration through the Consumer Protection Council.
Almost all consumers interviewed believed that the main
source of consumer awareness was through the communication
devices and the media.
Ø A vast majority of the respondents have reported that they notice
the cautions mentioned on the products while purchasing. On
comparing the male and female respondents on this issue, it
was found that the female respondents were more cautious than
the male respondents. While comparing the arts and science
students, it was found that arts students have inculcated the
habit of reading the cautions on the products before purchasing
the same. While analyzing the attitudes of the rural, urban and
semi-urban students, it was found that the rural students have
the habit of reading the cautions mentioned on the products.
Ø A vast majority of the respondents have stated that they judge
the products based on the information printed on the wrapper
of the products. Both the male and female consumers rely on
the details printed on the packaging of the products rather than
believing the statements of the shopkeepers before the purchase
is made. While comparing the rural, urban and semi urban
students in the matter of reading the information given on the
product, it was found that the rural students assess the quality of
the product by reading the information on the wrapper, whereas
the urban and semi-urban students did not care much about the
information on the wrapper of the products. Between the arts
and science students, a larger number of arts students were keen
on judging the quality of the product based on the information
on the wrapper.
Ø A large number of respondents were of the opinion that they
purchase the products based on the advertisements.
Ø A large number of respondents also stated that they purchase
the product based on the standard of the product. It was found
that the arts students were keen on verifying the standard of the
produce before purchasing the same as compared to the science
students who did not show much interest in the standard of the
product. When a comparison between the rural, urban and semi-
urban students was made, it was found that the rural students
124 Reflections on Consumer Protection

had inculcated the habit of selecting and purchasing a product


based on the standard, while the semi-urban and urban students
did not give any importance to the standard of the product.
Ø Most of the respondents said they notice the defects of the
products during purchase. In this study it was observed that the
arts students were quick in noticing the defects of the products
when compared to the science students. The rural students
when compared with the urban and semi-urban students easily
identified defects in products.
Ø A vast majority of the respondents agreed that they returned
the product if they were not satisfied and they also claimed a
refund. The arts students were particular about returning the
product when they were not satisfied and claimed a refund or
replacement of defective product. The rural students were more
focused on returning the defective products than the urban or
semi-urban students and claim a replacement or get a refund.
Ø A large number of respondents reported that they gather
knowledge about the product before purchasing the same. They
also check the price list of the products displayed in front of
the shops before purchasing. The respondents also verified the
weighing machine used to weigh the products they purchase.
Majority of the respondents were against purchasing goods from
the black market.
Ø Most of the respondents were particular about collecting the bills
from the vendors before leaving the shops. The arts students
regularly collected the bills for all purchases while the science
students did not care much for the collection of the bill after the
purchase. Most of the rural students insisted on the bill while the
urban and semi-urban students did not demand a bill for every
purchase.
Ø A majority of the respondents felt that the existing consumer
protection laws were not adequate to safeguard the consumer.
Most of the respondents claimed their rights as consumers
when the shopkeepers denied them the same. Most of them also
verified the ‘Date of Expiry’ of the product before purchase was
made.
Ø Most of the respondents were not members of the consumers'
Reflections on Consumer Protection 125

clubs, however they were aware of their rights, and did claim
the same in their way, without using the machinery of consumer
redressal forums or consumer councils.

Suggestions
The consumers must have education and awareness for better
implementation of their rights. “Consumer education is the process
by which consumers: a) develop skills to make informed decisions
in the purchase of goods and services in the light of personal values,
maximum utilization of resources, available alternatives, ecological
considerations and changing economic conditions. b) become
knowledgeable about the law, their rights and methods of recourse,
in order to participate effectively and self-confidently in the market
place and take appropriate action to seek consumer redress. c)
develop an understanding of the citizen’s role in the economic,
social and government systems and how to influence those systems
to make them responsive to consumer needs.” [US Department of
Education, 1980]
Educational institutions have to play an effective role towards
creating awareness among students by adopting methodologies
such as organizing seminars, workshops, lectures, discussions,
essay competitions, quizzes etc. with regard to consumer rights,
protection and welfare. Consumer clubs should be formed in each
school and college with the support of local consumer organization.
Material on consumer education should be made available in school
and college libraries. Frequent exhibitions and demonstrations
must be organized in public places and in educational institutions
focusing on various abuses and unscrupulous market practices.
Consumer education programmes should be made mandatory in
the school system. Consumer behaviour researches can make a
substantive contribution to the field of consumer education by
designing appropriate curriculum for such programmes.
The legal provisions must be effectively implemented so as to
ensure that all products' packages have the relevant details like the
date of manufacture and date of expiry. The competent authority
must ensure by frequent checking that the products are not sold after
the date of expiry, especially articles that are categorized as food
and medicine. The government must take effective steps to prohibit
the use of unfair weighs and measures such as the use of round
126 Reflections on Consumer Protection

beam scale, spring balance and stones. The scales and measures that
are prohibited by the government should be published to enable the
public to be aware of such prohibited scale and measures.
Steps must be taken to identify the unscrupulous traders who
are misbranding the products of well-known brands. The established
brands should be conscious of the misbranding of their products to
safeguard the interest of consumers. The existing laws to protect
consumers should be effectively implemented. Any loophole found
in the legislations should be plugged. The Department of Civil
Supplies and Consumer Affairs in every collectorate at the district
level must take necessary steps to regulate the supply of food items
through licensed shops only. Every manufacturer of food items
must be asked to produce items only with permitted colours and
contents. Also, the government needs to take initiative to establish
consumer forums at Taluk level in order to make easy access of
justice for needy people.
The Consumer Councils must take steps to educate people on
their consumer rights and the malpractices in business. The address
and phone numbers of consumer forums need to be displayed at sale
outlets and prominent public places in order to ensure the awareness
and enforce consumer vigilance. The details of consumer forum
should be printed on backside of every bill and displayed in all
trading concerns. Every business enterprise should accept consumer
protection as their “Social Responsibility.” Consumer satisfaction is
our goal – should not only be a slogan for businessmen, but it must
be put in practice. The businessmen must welcome the complaints
of the consumers and also take steps to redress the complaints.
The media can play a vital role to promote general awareness
of the rights of the consumers by providing information to them.
The campaign through the media should be enhanced to reach the
people at all levels. The general public, as consumers, should be
made to realize their rights and exercise them in the case of any act
of cheating or exploitation. Simultaneously attempts should be made
by the State and Central Governments with the aid of local welfare
associations and bodies to increase people’s active participation in
consumer movement in India.

Conclusion
The findings revealed that students are aware of consumer
Reflections on Consumer Protection 127

rights. However, they do not exercise their rights. The reasons are
not difficult to understand. They are apathetic and rather indifferent.
When it is a personal problem, they act. However, they do not when
it concerns the society at large. As most of the students interviewed
are under the control of the parents or dependent on the elders, their
potentials have not come out.
They will be able to act as a true consumer when they come out
of the ‘Shell” and become independent. Therefore, efforts should
be taken to make the youngsters as proactive consumers. They
have to be actively involved in the activities of consumer clubs and
voluntary consumer organizations in their respective areas. Above
all, consumer education should be part of curriculum for students at
college level. This will promote their involvement and participation
in consumer cause.

References
1. Anitha, H.S. (1999). Marketing in 21stCentury, Mangal Deep Publications,
Jaipur, p. 103
2. Basrur K. (1974). The Consumer in India, Leslie Programme of Training
for Democracy, Bombay, p.15.
3. Bhagwati, P.N. (1976). The Consumer in India. Third Conference on
Consumer Protection in India, Surat, p.2.
4. Gyan Pandit, Fostering Consumer Activism, Consumers Forum (Regd),
New Delhi, p. 3
5. Padma, G. (1990). Media and Consumer Protection - A Manual, CERC,
Ahmedabad, p. 62
6. Philip Kotter, Gari Armstrong (1996). Principles of Marketing, Prentice
Hall of India Ltd., New Delhi.
7. . . . . (1999). ‘The Consumer’, The Hindu, p.32.
128 Reflections on Consumer Protection

6
Accountability
Consciousness of Consumer
Protection Legal System in
Kerala

P. Gopinadhan Pillai

Kerala, a small state in South India has achieved exemplary


development levels. Keralites, in general, are literate, remarkably
healthy, enjoy fairly good standard of living; thanks to easy
availability and accessibility of facilities and amenities. The State
depends mainly on incomes generated through plantation crops,
coconuts and tapioca, tourism and remittances from its people
working abroad. The State’s GDP is at $ 48.630 billion. Keralites
form only 2.76 percent of India’s population – 33.3 million (2011
Census). But the State consumes about 15 percent of the retail goods
produced in India. That is the power of the Kerala retail market, one
that totals up to Rs. 36,000 crore. In the Economic Review of the
State Planning Board, it is estimated that about 22 percent of the
State’s Gross Domestic Product comes from the commercial sector,
a major chunk of which is from the retail industry. Not surprisingly,
Kerala tops in per capita consumption. A National Sample Survey
shows that Kerala overtook Punjab in this respect in 1999 and it has
stayed there since.
It is estimated that the textile retail in Kerala is around Rs.
5,000 crore per year, of which roughly 40 percent of sale takes place
during Onam festival. However, the fastest growing retail sector,
with an average 25 percent increase annually, is gold. It is estimated
that close to 800 tonnes of gold is annually sold in India and about
15 percent of this takes place in Kerala. There are about 8000
registered gold shops dotting the length and breadth of the State and
Reflections on Consumer Protection 129

they sell more than Rs. 15,000 crore worth of gold every year.
There are other figures that make Kerala the favourite of
breweries in India. The per capita liquor consumption of the State is
8.3 litres which is equal to that of the United States and higher than
that of Poland (8.1 litres) and Italy (8 litres). According to a report in
the Hindu, Kerala tops the list of states with the highest rate of per
capita consumption of alcohol. In the first financial quarter of 2010,
Keralites spent Rs. 2019.38 crore on liquor. The amount spent on
spurious liquor is unknown.
Another indicator of Keralite’s conspicuous consumption is the
highest individual ownership of vehicles in India after Delhi. About
4 lakh vehicles including more than 100 Mercedes Benz cars are
sold here every year. Even where fast moving consumer goods are
concerned, the figures are staggering. About 15 percent of Hindustan
Lever’s sale is in Kerala. Because of such success, many products
are actually test-marketed in the State before distribution elsewhere
in the country. (Stark World: Kerala, 2005). The oft repeated theory
is: “if it is a success in Kerala, it will be so all over India”. (Stark
World: Kerala, 2005)
Since Kerala is a confirmed consumer state, goods are brought
here from other states in India and from foreign countries. Hence,
the people of the state are vulnerable to exploitation: adulteration
of food, spurious drugs, dubious hire-purchase plans, high prices,
poor quality, deficient after-sale services, deceptive advertisements,
hazardous products, black marketing and many more. The adage,
“Consumer is sovereign” and “Customer is the king” are nothing
more than myths in the present scenario of market-driven economy.

Consumerism in Kerala
Inspite of these developments, consumerism is still in its infancy
in our country. Consumer awareness of their rights is low due to
the apathy and lack of education among the masses. The consumers
are unaware of their rights – to be informed about product quality,
price, protection against unsafe products, access to variety of goods
at competitive prices etc. The consumer is the focal point of any
business. But these consumers are under constant threat of being
exploited by the manufacturer, middlemen and the seller. There are
various forms of exploitation and some of the most common ones are:
• Not getting money’s worth of goods or services
130 Reflections on Consumer Protection

• Poor quality – less than the standard quality prescribed


• Underweight
• Lack of durability
• Outdated products (eg: medicines, food products)
• Products in disrepair
• Duplicate products
• Adulteration
• If a complaint is raised, the trader/company does not replace it
saying, “Goods once sold will not be taken back".

Accountability-consciousness of the Business Community


Bulk quantity of goods and services are produced for the
use of customers. While the purpose of any business is to serve
society, activities that are harmful to any part of society cannot be
tolerated. Therefore, the business community should not ignore
their social responsibility which “means intelligent and objective
concern for the welfare of society that restrains individual and
corporate behaviour from ultimately destructive activities….”
(Kenneth Andrews). In the words of Milton Friedman, “there is
one and only social responsibility of business. To use its resources
and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it
stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engage in open
and free competition, without deception and fraud.” This means,
they must charge reasonable price that is consistent with quality
and quantity, conducting the sale through courteous and friendly
customer service. After the sale is completed, channels must be laid
for enabling customer feedback and effective complaint redressal
mechanism.
Business should give importance to ethics while serving the
customers. Ethics implies a set of generally accepted and practiced
standards of personal conduct. It is something more than the
requirement of law. It is self-imposed and calls for voluntary actions
which emphasize fairness with the stakeholders – customers,
employees, shareholders, government, competitors, suppliers,
creditors and society at large and finally to themselves as owners.
Unfair trade practices ignore all forms of ethics, social and human
values and therefore, must be avoided.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 131

Most often, among the business community, personal interests


take precedence over business interests, leading to strong focus
on profit-making rather than the welfare of the consumers and the
society at large. This has its implications on the economy of the
nation. Even when flaws in the business system are detected, the
scattered and unorganized consumers are generally incapable of
taking any fruitful action against the well-organized and powerful
business community.
In this context, consumer protection has assumed greater
importance and relevance. Consumers’ satisfaction will benefit
business. Hence, consumer protection measures should not be
considered as consumers’ “war against business”. It is a collective-
consciousness on the part of consumers, business, government
and the civil society to enhance consumers’ satisfaction and social
welfare, which will, in turn, benefit all of them and finally make
society a better place to live in.

Role of the Government


Obviously, the government has a primary responsibility
to protect consumers’ interests and rights through appropriate
policy measures, legal structure and administrative framework.
Accordingly, the Government of India brought out the Consumer
Protection Act in 1986 which is a milestone in the history of socio-
economic legislation in India. It aims at providing an informal,
inexpensive and expeditious justice to the consumers who are
aggrieved by defects in goods or deficiency in services.
As per the provisions of the Act, the State of Kerala has
established Consumer Forums in all the 14 districts and a state level
Commission in Trivandrum. It is a well-established set-up and is
active. Among the key personnel active in the legal process namely,
the judicial officers, advocates, traders, manufacturers, service
providers and the complainant /customers, it is the President and the
Members of the Commission/Forums (C/F) who analyse the facts
and figures presented by both the parties and their counsels, lead
the judicial process and finally bring out the verdict. And, as we
know, the verdict is expected to reveal the sense of justice and the
accountability-consciousness of the judicial officer.
132 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Objectives and Design of the Study


In any project management, especially by governmental
organizations, responsibilities of the officers concerned are more
or less clearly defined and provided with adequate resources –
human, material, financial and infrastructural facilities so that their
performance would be satisfactory. But there won’t be any reference
to their accountability to the stakeholders or to the government or to
the funding agency. Here lies the lacuna. Responsibility and authority
minus accountability is a sure step towards mismanagement or
non-management and failures. This is true of a large number of the
schemes currently in operation in our country.

The Overall Objective


On the basis of this premise, the overall objective of this study is
to assess the accountability-consciousness among the key personnel
involved in the present consumer protection system in Kerala,
envisaged through the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The key personnel include:
1. President and Members at the State level,
2. Presidents and Members of the District Forums,
3. Advocates who practice at these institutions,
4. Consumer Complainants (CC), and
5. Community of manufacturers, traders and service providers
(MTSP).

Specific Objectives
1. To understand the dynamics of the functioning of the State
Commission and the District Forums in respect of their declared
vision and mission;
2. To critically examine the roles played by advocates in the
consumer protection set-up in Kerala and their accountability-
consciousness;
3. To know the view-points of consumer complainants and
their opposite parties regarding the services rendered by the
Commission and the Forums; and
4. To formulate an action-plan to strengthen further service-
delivery capacity of these institutions.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 133

Sampling Design
The overall design was stratified simple random sampling.
Respondents were selected according to their work experience with
State Commission/Consumer Dispute Redressal Forums and their
availability and accessibility. Those who were reluctant to open up
and communicate freely with investigators and those who were too
much preoccupied with their official work were left out.
Fig. 1: District Forum: Structure
District Forum
(President+2 Members)

Advocates Customer /complainant Traders/Service providers


(8-10) (5-7) (5-7)

Selection of Samples
The universe (or population) selected for the study is
heterogeneous: there are four categories of samples and hence,
stratification is based on each category as shown below:
The study team could collect data through interactive sessions
and questionnaires from 14 Members and 7 Presiding Officers of the
7/14 District Forums of Trivandrum, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam,
Palakkad, Thrissur and Kozhikkode (Census method) and 4 more
from other districts (25), selected purposively on account of their
subject knowledge and work experience in judiciary.
150 questionnaires were distributed among the advocates
who regularly practice at the 7 District Forums and the State
Commission in Trivandrum. Inspite of several visits, our study
team could collect only 68 filled-up questionnaires. Out of this 8
were found to be incomplete and defective. Hence, the remaining 60
were accepted for analysis. It was simple, random sampling based
on their availability and willingness to fill up the questionnaires.
Thirty respondents from among the complainants at the 7
District Forums were randomly selected on the basis of their
experiences in the conduct of the cases at the Forums and their
willingness to respond to the questions. An Interview Guide was
134 Reflections on Consumer Protection

used in order to make the data collection process descriptive and


interactive. More numbers were not required because the analysis
of their responses is purely qualitative.
The number of traders and service providers (who were involved
in disputes as “opposite parties” at the Forums) contacted was 30
by simple random sampling, depending upon their willingness to
co-operate. Here, again the sessions were interactive, based on an
Interview Guide.
The Unit of study is the grievance or a complaint of a consumer
registered as a legally valid case at a District Forum or at the State
Commission. 29 cases of different types of complaints/unfair
practices were selected purposively. Analysis of the Orders (verdicts)
can help the investigators to assess the level of the accountability-
consciousness of the Presiding Officers and the Members.

Tools of Data Collection


1. Questionnaire for the Presidents and Members of the State
Commission and the District Forums-Content validation of
the questionnaire was done by a group of Judicial Officers and
senior advocates.
2. Questionnaire for the advocates who practice at the State
Commission and the District Forums-Content validation of
the questionnaire was done by a group of Judicial Officers and
senior advocates.
3. Interview Guide for interactive sessions with the complainant
consumers.
4. Interview Guide for interactive sessions with the Traders/
Service providers who stood as accused.

Theoretical Background of the Study


“The nation expects from the superior judicial officers, the wisdom
of Solomon, the courage of David, the strength of Samson, the patience
of Job, the leadership of Moses, the kindness of Good Samaritan, the
strategic training of Alexander, the diplomacy of Lincoln and the
tolerance of the Carpenter of Nazareth and the intimate knowledge of
every branch of natural, biological and social sciences”…
-Justice A. Pasayat
Reflections on Consumer Protection 135

The three major concepts of administration are: Responsibility


in respect of a task, Authority - that is, functional autonomy
(independence) and the legal power to get things done through others
and Accountability- an obligation and commitment to the primary
stakeholders. All these are governed by the co-equal principle i.e.
the quantum of authority and accountability should be sufficient
and proportionate to the responsibility entrusted. As far as judiciary
is concerned, the Constitution has guaranteed this co-equal status.
The judicial officer is the kingpin of the operation of the system
of delivering justice. The success or failure of the system primarily
depends upon him. Dispensation of justice is an onerous task and
it is often distorted by a host of personal, familial, socio-economic,
administrative and political factors. Still, justice for all has to be
ensured, more so in a pluralistic, democratic society. According
to Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia, “In a
pluralistic society, judges are the essential equalizers. They serve
neither majority nor minority. Their duty is to the law and to justice.
They do not bend the knee to governments, to particular religions,
to the military, to money, to tabloid media or the screaming mob. In
upholding law and justice, judges have a vital function in a pluralist
society to make sure that diversity is respected and the rights of all
protected.”

Judicial Independence – Views Emerging from Supreme Court


Judgments
The Supreme Court has constantly reminded us the importance
of the concept of independence of judiciary. Justice V.R. Krishna
Iyer characterized this concept as a “constitutional religion”.
Justice Chandrachud said that the independence of judiciary is the
“cardinal feature” and observed that the “judiciary” which is to
act as a bastion of the rights and freedom of the people is given
certain constitutional guarantees to safeguard the independence of
judiciary.”(UOI v. H. Seth 1978 1 SCR 423). Justice Bhagwati in
the same judgment observed that the independence of judiciary is a
fighting faith of our Constitution (Ibid at 433).
In S.P. Gupta v UOI, Justice Bhagwati observed:
“The concept of independence of judiciary is a noble concept
which inspires the constitutional scheme and constitutes the
foundation on which rests the edifice of our democratic polity. If
136 Reflections on Consumer Protection

there is one principle which runs through the entire fabric of the
Constitution, it is the principle of the Rule of Law and under the
Constitution, it is the judiciary which is entrusted with the task of
keeping every organ of the State within the limits of the law and
thereby, making the Rule of Law meaningful and effective. But it
is necessary to remind ourselves that the concept of independence
of the judiciary is not limited only to independence from executive
pressure or influence and that it is a much wider concept which
takes within its sweep, independence from many other pressures
and prejudices.”
Furthermore, he has observed that, “Judges should be of
stern stuff and tough fibre, unbending before power, economic or
political, and they must uphold the core principle of the Rule of Law
which says, “Be you be ever so high, the law is above you”. This
is the principle of independence of the judiciary, which is vital for
the establishment of real participatory democracy, maintenance of
the Rule of Law as a dynamic concept and delivery of social justice
to the vulnerable sections of the community. It is this principle of
independence of the judiciary which we must keep in mind while
interpreting the relevant provisions of the Constitution". (AIR 1982
SC 149,198)
Justice Fazil Ali in his judgment in Gupta’s case held that
the independence of judiciary is doubtless a basic structure of
the Constitution, but the said concept of independence has to be
confined within the four corners of the Constitution and cannot go
beyond the Constitution (Ibid at 199).

The Question of Accountability


The concept, “Accountable” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary
as “responsible for your own decisions or actions and expected to
explain them when you are asked”. In everyday terms, accountability
is simply the ability to hold an individual or institution responsible
for its actions. Accountability must be comprehensive to include
not only the politicians, but also bureaucrats, judges and everyone
invested with power. Power and position in a democracy is depicted
as attendant with responsibility and every incumbent of a public
office must remain constantly accountable to the people who are
the repository of political sovereignty. Accountability means the
state of being responsible or answerable (Blacks Law Dictionary 18
Reflections on Consumer Protection 137

(5th ed., 1979). It also means to be subjected to having report,


(Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English
language, Grammercy Publication, 1994), explain or justify its
actions (The Law Lexican, 18, Wadhwa and Company, 1987).

Judicial Accountability
According to Justice A. Pasayat, “I always feel (that) the
accountability concept has three stages. First, each member of the
judiciary has the accountability to himself. He has to do a soul
searching and self-introspection. He has to convince himself that
what he has done is morally and more importantly, legally correct,
and his decision is not dictated by any extraneous consideration”.
As Lord Donaldson, the former English Master of Rolls has said,
“Judges are without constituency and answerable to no one except
to their conscience and the law”. The second stage of accountability
is the accountability of the individual to the institution. Here
again, self-introspection and soul–searching plays a vital role. The
individual has to ensure that what he has done would not bring
disrespect or disrepute to the institution. On the contrary, even if it
may not increase the respectability and credibility of the institution,
it shall not diminish it. The institution cannot be segregated from the
individuals. The credibility or lack of it would depend to a complete
measure on the individuals. The third stage is the most important
one. It is the accountability of the institution to the larger society.
Indeed, judging is no longer an easy task.
To fulfil the various obligations of the judiciary, it is enabled
to derive power from various sources. Many of the powers are
derived from the basic document i.e. the Constitution itself, as
much of the obligations are constitutional in nature. Some of the
powers are assumed by the judiciary in order to realize multifarious
social obligations and such usurpation is by and large has been
acknowledged and accepted by society since the other limbs of the
state especially the Executive have miserably failed to discharge
their social obligations. Whatever may be the reason, whatever may
be the source of power, the inescapable truth is that the judiciary,
at present, enjoys wider and varied powers. Apart from its usual
judicial power, every now and then, the judiciary exercises executive
as well as legislative powers. Such powers are given to the judiciary
not for personal aggrandizement of the judges but to sub-serve the
constitutional purpose and to uphold the majesty of democracy.
138 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Obviously, in this context, the need for judicial accountability is felt


more now than ever before, as the judiciary enjoys much power now
than ever before.
The term “judicial accountability” is used to denote the
manner in which judiciary justifies its decision making and it is
not synonymous of control of power. Accountability of a judge
is primary as he is the custodian of justice and has to justify his
actions. He cannot escape by saying that he is a mere interpreter
of legislation as the Judge himself sometimes legislates. Primary
accountability has to be discharged either through structural or
logical accountability.
According to Benjamin N. Cardoza, “It is true that the Judges
use methods of reasoning which are distinctive and provide a
fuller explanation for what they do than the decision-makers. But
their decisions are invariably influenced by factors like inherited
instincts, traditional beliefs, acquired convictions and resultant
outlook of life which do not emanate from the process of reasoning
itself”.
The concept of independence of judiciary does not mean absolute
rigid separation and the concept of accountability does not mean
judicial subordination. Accountability implies a controlled system.
Accountability and Independence must complement and supplement
and sustain each other and are inseparable. Judicial Accountability
and Independence limit harmonize and legitimize each other,
balancing power with responsibility. In the era of transparency and
accountability, the conceptual argument that judiciary should not be
accountable because of its independence cannot stand. Constitutional
democracy implies that the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution
is not an autonomous one but an interactive one with understanding
of the people, their representatives and Judges together. Judicial
power and judicial pronouncement should be subjected to active but
respectful scrutiny for their legitimacy as actions of political branch
are subjected to. To have better understanding of accountability
of judiciary, it is necessary to consider the international practices
relating to judicial Independence and Accountability.
The scope of the Consumer Protection Act is widening in
the society which is pro to globalization, industrialization and
privatization. So the Legislature has taken all possible steps by
Reflections on Consumer Protection 139

making timely amendments to the Act in accordance with the needs


of the time. In fact, all the amendments made to the Consumer
Protection Act by the 2002 Amendments aim at furthering the
efficiency of the Act and doing away with procedural delays
which render the consumers disillusioned and dissatisfied. These
Amendments have been fruitful in providing protection to the
consumers in the real sense of the term and serves the purpose of
the Act. It is hoped that further amendments would aim at even
more efficiency and render the position of the consumers much
stronger in this era of globalization and privatization where the
sudden unchecked advent of Multi-National Companies has to be
balanced with the protection of the rights of the consumers by the
legislature and the judiciary.
Table 1: Details of Cases Pending in the Kerala State Commission/
District Fora for the Month of April 2012
Office/District Cases Cases Cases No. of Arrears
Pending filed disposed working (at the
(at the (during of days end
beginning the (during (during of the
of the month) the the month)
month) month) month)
OP 198 04 06 21 196
CDRC Appeal 764 75 85 754
Total 962 79 91 950
Trivandrum 867 36 40 21 863
Kollam 570 41 33 22 578
Pathanamthitta 149 19 20 “ 148
Alappuzha 185 30 27 “ 188
Kottayam 445 32 28 “ 449
Idukki 78 35 25 “ 88
Ernakulam 735 49 67 “ 717
Thrissur 2642 39 80 “ 2601
CDRF
Palakkad 135 25 21 “ 139
Malappuram 227 22 13 “ 236
Kozhikod 589 40 35 “ 594
Wayanad 123 27 24 “ 126
Kannur 345 39 31 “ 353
Kasargod 278 35 25 “ 288
Total 7368 469 469 7368
Grand Total 8330 548 560 8318
Source: Secretary & Registrar, Kerala CDRC
Table 2: Consolidated Report on Disposal of District Consumer Disputes Redressal Fora for the Month of May 2012

.
140

(3-4)
(8-9)

(3+6)
(4+7)
(8&9)

month
month
month
month

of since
of since

Sl. No.
Balance

Forum
District
Disposed
Disposed
Disposed

inception
inception
inception
inception

the month
percentage

during the

Filed since
Filed since
pending at

till the end


till the end
Pending at

of previous

of previous
of disposals

Filed during

of the month
the end of the

the beginning
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
1 Trivandrum 13085 12222 863 31 39 13116 12261 855 93
2 Kollam 14869 14291 578 32 43 14901 14334 567 96
3 Pathanamthitta 7082 6934 148 14 29 7096 6963 133 98
4 Alappuzha 10388 10200 188 67 29 10455 10229 226 98
5 Kottayam 16968 16519 449 30 26 16998 16545 453 97
6 Idukki 7851 7763 88 18 21 7869 7784 85 99
7 Ernakulam 23447 22730 717 64 65 23511 22795 716 97
8 Thrissur 23562 20961 2601 40 81 23602 21042 2560 89
9 Palakkad 9323 9184 139 15 19 9338 9203 135 99
10 Malappuram 9174 8938 236 24 17 9198 8955 243 97
11 Kozhikkod 16863 16269 594 48 30 16911 16299 612 96
12 Wayanad 5924 5798 126 17 17 5941 5815 126 98
13 Kannur 11515 11162 353 23 33 11538 11195 343 97
14 Kasargod 6510 6222 288 58 53 6568 6275 293 96
Total 169193 169193 7368 481 502 177042 169695 7347 96
Source: Kerala SCDRC
Reflections on Consumer Protection
Reflections on Consumer Protection 141

Results and Discussion


The major results (findings) of analysis are listed and their
implications for the functioning of the consumer protection
institutions in the state are examined.

Accountability-consciousness of President and Members


Statistical assessment of Accountability-consciousness of
President and Members is found to be high in the case of 9 and
average in the case of 16/25. None in the “low” level category.
There is clarity about their mission namely, to protect the interests
of genuine complainants. An analysis of 29 Orders (judgments) of
Consumer Fora bear testimony to this observation. It is true that
the President and Members enjoy “independence” – freedom from
external pressures. And transparency enhances accountability.

Accountability-consciousness of Advocates
In the case of advocates, the Accountability-consciousness
score is low for 34 respondents and average for the rest, out of 60.
In what way can we explain this finding? Perhaps Advocate Shri
CK. Mohandas of Kodungallur has an explanation: “Training is
imperative but lawyers are a special category of professionals, unable
to render service, based on high ideals.” If one accepts this premise,
practicing law is a profession sans ethical values and considerations.
One argument put forward by Justice Shri Udayabhanu is that there
is an element of uncertainty and insecurity in respect of incomes and
prosperity in a highly competitive court setting. In other words, one
is compelled to take cases irrespective of their merits or demerits.
Advocate Shri Boris Paul more or less holds the same view when
he said, “In general, it is the tendency of advocates to accept clients
who approach them first and pays what they demand. Generally, they
do not bother much about the merit or demerit – justice or injustice
of the case in question. Furthermore, they feel accountable to the
client and not to anything else. Obviously, one cannot blame them
for their professional integrity and commitment.” We cannot compel
them to be faithful and accountable to the aggrieved consumer, in
preference to the “accused” trader or service provider especially
when the latter becomes a client.
Perhaps, this is the basic difference between the two roles of the
profession of law – one is to be faithful to one’s client irrespective
142 Reflections on Consumer Protection

of ethics or not and the other is expected to be impartial, justice-


oriented and conscious of his accountability to the genuine
complainants. Some of the advocates seem to be not accountable
even to their clients which are evident from frequent requests for
adjournment of cases without any valid reasons.

Recruitment of Members
Regarding the present practice of recruitment of the Members
of the Forums, there are complaints. CP Act Section 10 (b) stipulates
that Members shall be “persons of ability, integrity and standing,
and have adequate knowledge and experience of at least ten years
in dealing with problems relating to economics, law, commerce,
accountancy, industry, public affairs or administration.” Yet, the
political executives of the government invariably select them on the
basis of political considerations. As a result, persons who are misfit
for the State Commission or the District Forums get appointments.
They lack knowledge and experience in judicial work, relevant laws
and judgments related to consumer protection and the complex
dynamics of the judicial process so much so that some of them are
found to be passive witnesses of the proceedings of the Forums
without any knowledge-based contributions to the framing of the
Orders. Of course, there are exceptions.

Delay
Delay in giving the verdict is one of the complaints frequently
mentioned by the consumers. It causes frequent travels, payments to
the advocate, loss of leave days (if the complainant is employed) and
increase in the cost of litigation. Partly, the advocates are responsible;
they request for frequent adjournments and the Presiding Officers
often take a lenient attitude. Furthermore, some of the Members
lack competency in framing appropriate verdicts. Consequently, the
President has to spend time in guiding them.

Lack of Publicity
Consumer Forum is presently playing a very subdued, minimal
role in promoting consumer education in the State. In fact, the
common man including the traders and service providers at the
lower level, do not have any inkling of the good work done by
Consumer Forums partly due to lack of adequate publicity. A little
bit of image-building is necessary. At present, Orders of Consumer
Reflections on Consumer Protection 143

Forums are available in the internet but, not easily accessible to the
common man.

Power vested in Consumer Forums


A few Presidents and senior advocates feel that the legal
power, presently vested in district forums is not enough to carry
out its responsibilities efficiently and effectively. They experience
difficulty in getting their verdict accepted by some recalcitrant
opposite parties and consequently, the consumers are compelled
to file execution petition and are kept waiting. The President and
Members are busy with day-to-day “hearings” and writing Orders.
Among the ministerial staff, no one is specifically designated as a
functionary responsible for getting the verdicts executed promptly.
In fact, this is one of the administrative defects of the consumer
protection set-up in the state and not due to any lacuna in the CP
Act. The Act vests adequate legal powers for handling effectively
the “disobedient” opposite parties.

Burden of Transfers
One of the functional difficulties experienced by consumer
forum is the inappropriateness of the ministerial staff. As indicated
earlier, they are on transfer from the Department of Civil Supplies
of the State Government and novices in respect of judicial matters
and its style of functioning. They remain untrained throughout
their postings in consumer forum, until they return to the parent
department. This is another congenital defect of consumer forum
administration. The present man-power in terms of numbers and
structure designed for Consumer Forum was done around 1990. But
over the years, the number of cases seeking redressal has increased
manifold resulting in huge backlog (8318 cases pending disposal at
the end of April 2012)
Meanwhile, it is found, as on date (May 2012) that in several
Forums at the post of Members remained vacant – (Trivandrum,
Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Wayanad).

Deterrent Effect
The consumer protection set-up in Kerala has been activated
since 1990 and has a good track record of performance during the
past twenty years, receiving and handling 176,561 complaints,
which is really impressive. In this context, one pertinent question
144 Reflections on Consumer Protection

is whether the verdicts of most of these cases have any deterrent


effect on the unfair business practices among manufacturers and
service providers. Nobody has any dependable answer except
mere assumptions. In fact, this knowledge-gap warrants a detailed
investigation.

Role of Advocates
It is absolutely necessary to keep the Commission and the
Forums open to the complainants to argue their cases by themselves.
But, the importance of the role played by advocates cannot be
viewed any less. Some complainants,while presenting their cases
have a tendency to cast unnecessary doubts on the integrity of the
Forums. This creates much difficulty for the President in explaining
to them everything in detail. It is very time-consuming. Still, some
of the complainants do not get convinced. On the other hand, if
lawyers are appearing, this aspect is very smooth and without
any hassles. Further, in complicated issues especially in medical
negligence cases, where the Hon’ble Supreme Court has opined to
have oral evidence, (for) examination and cross-examination, the
assistance of lawyers is absolutely necessary (Smt. CS. Sulekha
Beevi, President of CDRF Malappuram and Sri. Siva Prasad,
President of CDRF Trivandrum). Some consumers who conduct
cross-examination by themselves ask very irrelevant and irritating
questions and it becomes a strenuous task for the Presiding Officer
to manage the time and the proceedings. Lawyers can and do
sometimes make settlement of cases very easy. When parties appear
directly, and in conflict with each other, the chances of settlement
take several rounds of talks. In general, the complainants expect
inflated compensation. In sum, it is concluded that the advocates
are an integral part of the dispute redressal system and their roles
barring a few, is key to ensure the equity and accountability of the
verdicts.
As per the provisions of CP Act, verdicts have to be arrived
at within 90 days from the date of registration of the complaints
(non-technical cases) and within 150 days where lab testing has to
be sought. The opposite party has to be given 30-days’ time for
responding to the complaint notice sent to it. The consumer forum
has to give additional time for adducing evidences, if required by the
parties. Also, in several cases, examination and cross-examination
Reflections on Consumer Protection 145

exercises have to be undertaken for generating the truth about the


issues involved in the dispute. It is obvious that all these activities
are time-consuming and one has to concede to the contention that
the President or the Members cannot be blamed for any delay in
framing the verdict.
However, there is a tendency among a section of the advocates
to seek frequent adjournments of the hearings and some of the
Presidents are lenient towards such requests. Furthermore, the
ministerial staff is also partly responsible in delays caused in their
communication with the advocates and parties to the dispute. The
fact of the matter is, there is delay.

Amicus-curiae
This is only an aid (legal) provided to the complainant who does
not know the complex legal aspects of his/her complaint and hence,
not in a position to effectively defend the case. In other words, he/she
needs the assistance of a lawyer but financially not in a position to
engage one. In such deserving cases, this facility is provided by the
Commission. A legal aid fund is set-up specifically for this purpose
from which the Commission provides the services of an advocate. It
is found that this type of aid is provided only in a few cases.

CDRF and CDRC: Whether Informal or Formal


This issue was objectively examined by the study team and the
view-points of Presidents and Members were solicited.
As per CP Act, consumer forum and the Commissions
including the State and the National are different from a civil court.
But, by day-to-day decisions of the National Commission and the
Hon’ble Supreme Court, consumer forums and Commissions are
nothing but “courts”. It is necessary to give natural justice to both
parties. In order to ensure this, the consumer forum is “compelled”
to adopt more or less the procedures of the civil courts. Moreover,
by the amendment of the CP Act in 2002, consumer forum have
lost the jurisdiction to execute its own orders and judgments. The
only available remedy at present is Section 25 and Section 27 of the
Act. As per Section 25, if the complainant can produce certificates
from the Village Officer and the Tahasildar concerned, giving the
details of the properties of the opposite party, then consumer forum
can pass orders for revenue recovery. The District Collector can be
146 Reflections on Consumer Protection

requested to initiate procedures in this respect.


As per Section 27, consumer forum has the power of the Judicial
First class Magistrate and are empowered to convict and impose
fine (upto 3 years imprisonment and a fine upto Rs. 10,000/-) for
the “disobedience” of the Order. All these unequivocally confirm
that Consumer Forums have intentionally or otherwise acquired the
powers and the rigorousness and formality of a typical Civil Court.
(Advocate Shri M K Abdulla Sona, Acting President of Kerala State
Commission as on July 2012).
However, it is found that consumer forums have consciously
retained the informality and the consumer- friendliness expected of
them by CP Act. The study team testifies the truth of this statement
through direct observations of the proceedings of Consumer Forums
several times, including the gestures, behaviour, attitude and
language of Presidents, Members, Advocates and the ministerial
staff. In other words, the disputants are deliberately put at ease and
given “a feeling of importance.”
In other words, structurally and functionally consumer forum
is conceived as quasi-judicial. Going through the preamble and the
various provisions of CP Act, one gets an impression that the Act
is heavily biased in favour of the genuine consumer, and rightly
so. Sections 13, 24, 25, and 27 make consumer forum judicial with
adequate legal power and formalities while key terms such as
Commission, Forum, President, Members, Orders, complainant,
opposite party and the right to present ones’ grievance directly
before the Forum without the assistance of an advocate etc. make
it informal, consumer-friendly and cost-effective. The onerous
responsibility of optimally exploiting the potentiality of the Act
for the protection of genuine consumers against “business greed”
vests with the key players of the redressal machinery, especially
the President and the Members who have to arrive at the judgment.
The state government should provide strong support, ensuring its
judicial independence, empowering the judicial team with training
and education and enriching its infrastructure facilities.

Conclusions and Recommendations


The “chemistry” of the judicial process in a court of law/
Forum is obvious. In one sense, it is a dispute between truth and
false. In another sense, in the setting of the Consumer Forums, it
Reflections on Consumer Protection 147

is a dispute between two un-equals, where the manufacturers and


service providers are the powerful ones with money power, asset
power, man power and who could engage reputed lawyers to defend
their interests and reputation. Obviously, the individual consumer-
complainants are comparatively weak and “alone” and therefore,
need the special care and attention of the President and Members
to get justice. The concept “protection” included in the title of CP
Act is the basic objective and responsibility of the key personnel in
charge of Commissions and Forums.
Hence, the study focuses on the actual roles played by the two
key personnel in the protection system namely, the President and
Members and the advocates. An attempt is made to understand how
these two perform in respect of the complainant. The inquiry is to
find out to what extent they exercise their consciousness of social
justice, equity and accountability in an environment that has given
them functional freedom, power and resources.
The level of accountability found among the “judges”
(President and Members) is fairly satisfactory while the community
of advocates need a little more consciousness of their accountability
instead of being a partisan to their clients. A little bit of discretion
between what is right and what is wrong, what is ethical and what
is unethical is needed.

Recommendations
Recommendations are framed strictly on the basis of the data
collected, analysed and the results obtained. A few are concerned
with amendments to the provisions of CP Act, some are in respect
of the second stage of expansion of the present Dispute Redressal
Institutions to the Taluk level and others in respect of de-linking the
Consumer Forums from the Department of Civil Supplies for more
administrative freedom. And the rest are about better infrastructural
facilities, induction training for the Members, refresher programs
for the seniors, techniques for the speedy disposal of complaints etc.

1. Accountability – Consciousness of Presidents and Members


Statistical assessment of accountability consciousness of of
Presidents and Members is high in the case of 9 and average in the
case of 16/25. Those with average score could be elevated through
mentoring by senior Presiding Officers slowly and steadily. For this
148 Reflections on Consumer Protection

to succeed, each Forum should have good team spirit with esprit
de corps and work in tandem towards the common objective of
providing a strong protective shield to the consumer against unfair
practices whenever he buys something. The concepts of judicial
independence, social justice and accountability should be included
in the training modules. Ethics and values and humanitarianism
should get emphasized in day-to-day work.

2. Accountability-consciousness of Advocates
Computation of the level of accountability-consciousness
among the 60 advocates reveals that it is average among 26 (43.3
percent) and low among 34 (56.7 percent). None with a high level
score. The judges have to be objective, impartial and not committed
to any one party, but the advocate cannot be impartial; has to be
committed to his clients irrespective of the merit or demerit of the
case. This is the nature of their profession.
The ideal role expected of an advocate is to help the judicial
officers in understanding the basic issues involved in a dispute and
the appropriate legal framework. He must help the jury dispense
justice. In fact, a lawyer is not an agent of a client; but he is an
officer of the court, to assist the court to arrive at the discharge of
justice.

3. Induction Training
New Member recruits should be given induction training on
their roles and responsibilities and the basics of consumer protection
and its philosophy. Otherwise, they would remain passive witnesses
of the proceedings of the consumer forum and may not be able to
contribute anything to the formulation of the Orders. In fact, they
are expected to be on their own, handling cases independently and
efficiently and frame Orders with the approval of the President.
Obviously, this can substantially reduce delay in grievance redressal.
Both the complainant and the opposite party will be happy.
Since the tenure of service of the Members is 5 years, Training
Need Assessment exercise (TNA) could be undertaken by an expert
and on the basis of his recommendations, refresher programmes may
be arranged. The responsibility could be entrusted to the Judicial
Academy in the State. The assumption is that more competent the
Reflections on Consumer Protection 149

personnel in the consumer forums are, more confidence the consumer


will have on the quality and justice of the services rendered.

Delay in Giving Verdict


As indicated earlier, there is delay in giving the verdict in
several cases. The suggestions to reduce delay are:
• The workload of the President and the Members are on the
increase, thanks to the good image and goodwill of the
Commission and Forums among the consumer public. This
workload has to be considerably reduced. One suggestion
is that the Members should equip themselves with adequate
knowledge and skills in handling the judicial process and write
legally correct judgments so that they can considerably lessen
the burden of the Presidents.
• On the basis of a study by an expert team, Taluk Forums could
be set up in several districts with competent Members and
handle cases of lower money value, thereby reducing the flow
of cases to the Forums.
• Frequent adjournments of hearings on flimsy excuses should
not be allowed.
• Streamline the functioning of the supporting staff so that
delayed communications between the consumer forums and the
advocates as well as the disputants can be avoided.
• The Presidents have to be strict with the subject experts on
medical and technical matters, so that they submit their reports
without causing undue delay.
• According to Presidents, Members and advocates, there is
delay in communication between consumer forums and the
opposite parties, advocates, subject experts and the clients
due to normal postal delays. The suggestion is that this delay
could be considerably reduced if the e-mail system is formally
introduced. The initial communication difficulties with
complainants without e-mail facilities could be easily overcome
through their advocates.
As per the provision in the CP Act, every complaint shall be
heard as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to
decide the complaint within a period of three months from the date
of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not
150 Reflections on Consumer Protection

require analysis or testing of commodities and within five months


if it requires analysis or testing of commodities. Provided that no
adjournment shall ordinarily be granted by the District Forum unless
sufficient cause is shown and the reasons for grant of adjournment
have been recorded in writing by the Forum. Provided further that
the District Forum shall make such orders as to the costs occasioned
by the adjournment as may be provided in the regulations made
under this Act.

4. Execution of Verdict
If the party to the dispute, especially the consumer-complainant
cannot get the Order executed without much delay and without any
hassles, there is no point in filing complaints with the Commission
or the Forum. The provisions for issuing arrest warrant under
Cr.P.C. have to be boldly invoked in the case of “delinquent” opposite
parties. The power vested by sections 25 and 27 should be optimally
utilized with discretion.
The Information Officer at the Forums should help the
complainant in preparing the affidavit at the initial stage itself with
the correct name and address of the opposite party who has the legal
obligation to settle the grievance of the customer. Merely describing
the opposite party as Manager, Proprietor, Principal or Messrs X & Y
Company Ltd. in the complaint petition will provide the loop-hole
for the accused to escape the warrant.
Furthermore, the District Collector should ensure his full
support to the police for getting the verdict accepted by the opposite
party. From among the ministerial staff, a senior officer could be
entrusted with the full responsibility of getting the Order executed
at the earliest. In this context, the advocate concerned should also
evince keen interest in the matter. Incidentally, it will be good, if
the President/Member evinces interest in tracking the “fate” of his/
her Order, which could be counted as his/her accountability to the
complainant.

5. Adalat and Amicus Curiae


These have to be strengthened in order to reduce the cost of
litigation, presently incurred by the complainants. The present policy
seems to be that a day in a week is to be especially set apart for adalat.
But, this is not being strictly adhered to in the Forums at present.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 151

The State Commission occasionally provides amicus-curiae to


deserving complainants but the number of such beneficiaries is very
low. The suggestion is that these facilities have to be deliberately
and optimally utilized both by the Commission and the District
Forums so that burden of cost, duration of litigation and all the
attendant difficulties could be reduced to the genuine but hapless
complainants.

6. Consumer Education
The voluntary agencies and the school clubs focus, in general,
on the rights of the consumers and how they are being exploited by
the manufacturers and service providers. They will also mention that
the Forums are there to redress the grievances in case the consumer
is cheated. But they spare the erring manufacturers and service
providers who knowingly or unknowingly generate the grievances
of their customers. The problem has to be tackled by addressing
the manufacturers and service providers. They should be advised/
compelled to adhere to the ethics and values of honest business. The
message that “the seller should be accountable to the buyer” should
be emphasized. In this context, it is suggested that the associations
of manufacturers and traders such as the Chamber of Commerce,
Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithis, All India Manufacturers'
Association, the local Management Associations, and the Schools
of Business Management should educate their members on the
objectives and provisions of the CP Act, 1986 and their accountability
to the consumers who really sustain their business.

7. Infrastructure
One of the topics for discussion raised by the Presiding Officers,
Members, Advocates, ministerial staff and complainants is the
deficiency felt in respect of the present infrastructural facilities in
most of the Forums. The Hon’ble Minister in charge of Consumer
Affairs in the State may appoint an expert committee to assess the
deficiencies and initiate appropriate measures. This is absolutely
necessary for the effective functioning of the institutions. Adequate
budgetary provision to meet the costs is necessary.

8. No Transfers
This has been mentioned again and again by several key
personnel of consumer forums. Those who get transferred to
152 Reflections on Consumer Protection

consumer forumsfrom the State Department of Civil Supplies are


found to be keen on returning to the parent department, the moment
they perceive promotion chances or opportunities for transfer to
their home town or village. Furthermore, they do not have any work
experience in a court set-up and its style of functioning. Added to
this, they are posted without any induction training on the subject
of consumer protection and the modus operandi of consumer
forums. In other words, they start working as novices and more
or less continue to be so until they get transferred to the parent
department. Hence, the general dissatisfaction about this transfer
system among the Presidents, Members and Advocates. They insist
on having their own staff, who are well-trained in the day-to-day
functioning of consumer forums.

9. Monitoring and Review System


The need for such a live system in an organization, spread over
in all the fourteen districts in the State, need not be emphasized.
Regular upward communication regarding the activities,
achievements, shortfalls, functional difficulties etc is necessary in
a systematic manner so that correctives could be worked out by the
authorities concerned at the top and communicated downwards for
remedial action.
It is true that occasionally, the Hon’ble Minister in charge of
Consumer Affairs, convenes meetings of the key personnel for
review. Such meetings do provide opportunities for sharing of
information and work experience. But, this is not enough. Functional
review exercise should be an in-built system of administration.

Concluding Remarks
As per the analysis, feasible recommendations are given,
issue-wise. The authorities concerned can take note of them and
initiate remedial action. The overall impression is that the consumer
protection system symbolized by the State Commission and the
District Forums are active and on the right track. Data indicate
that they enjoy judicial independence– almost free from external
pressures and interference in handling cases. They can write
verdicts as per their perspectives and conscience. It functions as per
the norms of a typical quasi-judicial institution – partly formal and
partly informal. Hence, the consumer feels comfortable and relaxed.
The consumer can freely articulate his grievance and view-points.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 153

The “Bench” listens with attention and empathy.

Bibliography
1. Consumer Protection Act, 1986
2. Kerala Rules under CP Act
3. Verdicts (Orders) of decided cases selected from CDRC,
Trivandrum and the CDRFs in the State
4. Progress reports prepared by CDRC 2011- 2012
5. Annual Report 2011-2012, Government of India, Ministry of
Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Department
of Consumer Affairs Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi
6. Files available with CDRC
7. Rajeev Dhavan (1965). Judges and Judicial Powers, Ist Edition.
8. Krishna Iyer (1999). Justice at Cross Road, Deep and Deep
Publications.
9. Bagavathy P.N. (1988). The Role of Judiciary in developing
Societies, in Law and Justice, The Politics of Judiciary.
10. Venkatraman N.S. (2001). The Role and Reach of Judiciary, The
Hindu.
11. Alexander Bickel (1957). Legislative Process and Judicial
Process, Harvard Law Review.
154 Reflections on Consumer Protection

7
Consumption, Education and
Exploitation: A Probe into
the Consumer Exclusion in
Kerala

D. Rajasenan

Introduction
The study analyses the different dimensions of consumer
exclusion in Kerala, a state known for high literacy rates and social
sector development indices comparable to developed countries
despite poor economic performance. It is true that globalization has
provided people in emerging economies an opportunity to be part
of the global consumption experience; products and brands which
were previously unavailable in these economies have now become
every day names in the households. Awareness about consumer
rights and effective institutional mechanisms to redress consumer
complaints are definite elements in empowering consumers, a
situation that can tackle the problem of exploitation and consequent
consumer exclusion. Looking at consumer exclusion as a process
warrants the need for effective checks and balances in the system
to prevent exclusion, and looking at consumer exclusion as a
status, points at the need to empower consumers. The need to have
effective institutional mechanisms and empowered consumers is of
paramount importance in the case of Kerala characterized by very
high per-capita consumption expenditure among Indian states,
the presence of a large number of emigrants and a vibrant middle
class. The study is organized into three sections. The first section
analyses the perception of the consumers in relation to exclusion
and also their difficulties in consumer fora (those who have filed
cases). The second section elicits the perception of the consumers
regarding their exploitation/exclusion in product categories. The
Reflections on Consumer Protection 155

third section explores the nexus between education and consumer


exploitation.

Overview of Literature
One can find a plethora of literature relating to consumer
exploitation and the perception of the consumers relating to their
buying behaviour, but literature pertaining to consumer exclusion
is very scant. Consumer plays a central role in the economic system
as it generates effective demand and the dearth of it will lead to the
collapse of the system. The relationship between the consumers and
the producers are twofold; as one ignites the other and vice-versa.
Without consumer, it is difficult to see the economic dynamics
of multiplier and accelerator. Consumer satisfaction is perceived
discrepancy between a priori expectations and realization in
satisfaction after the act of consumption (Tse and Wilton 1988). It
also explains the buyer cognitive state of being adequately rewarded
for the sacrifices one has undergone [Howard and Sheth, (1969);
Westbrook and Reilly (1983); Swan and Caroll (1980); Oliver (1992)].
Because of the greedy nature of manufacturers to make wind fall
profit, consumers are exploited not only in terms of money but in a
wider ambit in terms of their health. But consumer exclusion happens
as a result of insufficient resources and asymmetry in information.
It can also happen when decision leading to operational decisions of
the producer in terms of cost minimization behaviour, particularly
connected to spatial dimensions [Hohnen, (2007); Hamilton (2009)].
The institutional dimension of exclusion is discussed by Beall and
Piron (2005) with which institutions can play an important role in
making a society inclusive.

Methodology and Data


The study was for understanding the aspects about consumer
exclusion, it was decided that sample selection should also take into
consideration per-capita income; which could be taken as a close
proxy for consumption ability.
Figure 1 compares the per-capita income of the districts in
Kerala with the state per-capita income and also the deviation in
the per-capita income of each district from the state average. There
seems to be a distinct geographical character associated with the
per-capita income in the state. The central region is the richest where
only one district (Idukki) has a per-capita income lower than the
156 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Fig. 1: Per-capita Income of Districts in Kerala in Comparison


with State Average- a Regional Outlook

Source: CSSEIP (based on data from Economic Review, 2010)

state average. One of the districts in the central region, Ernakulam


has the highest per-capita income in the state. The southern region
follows the Central region where two of the four districts have per-
capita income below the state average. Thiruvanathpuram which
falls in the southern region has the second highest per-capita income
in the state. All of the northern districts starting from Palakkad to
Kasargod, have per-capita incomes lower than the state average.
The region also houses Malappuram district which has the lowest
per-capita income among all districts in the state.
Total sample size for understanding the general perception
about consumer exclusion was 300. Regional representation as
well as distribution of per-capita income was identified as the two
parameters on which the sample was to be drawn. For this the study
adopted a multi-stage stratified proportionate random sampling
technique. In the first stage the districts were classified on the
basis of geographical location into South, Central and North. In the
second stage the districts within each region was stratified on the
basis of per-capita income into those above the state average and
those below state average (in the case of northern region this was
not possible as all the districts were below state average). In order to
ensure more weight to regions with higher per-capita income, which
was fixed by the researchers as a proxy for consumption ability,
the sample selection was decided to follow the proportion of 5:4:3
with the highest proportion coming from the region with the highest
Reflections on Consumer Protection 157

per-capita income and so on. Out of the 300 samples collected,


the 125 were from the central region, the richest in terms of per-
capita income, 100 samples from the southern region and 75 from
the northern region. To make sure that representation within each
region would give more weight to those districts with per-capita
income above state average, it was further decided that the sample
size from district with per-capita income above the state average
within each region should be three times that of the sample size
from district with per-capita income below state average. In case
of regions where more than one district was selected from among
the group with per-capita income above state average this rule was
applied to the district with highest per-capita income from among
the selected districts.
Based on the above criteria Thiruvananthapuram (75) was
selected randomly from the strata of districts above state per-
capita income from the southern region and Alapuzha (25) was
selected from among the districts with per-capita income below
state average. In the case of central region Idukki (25) is the only
district with per-capita income below state average and hence the
district was automatically chosen. From among the three districts
that have per-capita income above state average Ernakulam (75) and
Thrissur (25) were selected. Based on the prefixed criteria of fixing
the sample size of the district that gets selected with the highest per-
capita income any region the sample size of Ernakulam was fixed
as three times that of Idukki. All the districts in the northern region
fell below the state per-capita income and hence it was decided to
select one district randomly and accordingly Palakkad (75) was
selected from the northern region.
The study tried to apply the same criteria for the second section
(i.e. the perception of people who have filed cases in consumer
forums). However, the effort to randomly select complainants from
each district already chosen for the first phase of the study could
not be implemented on account of practical difficulties (lack of
contact information, meeting the required number of persons in
each district who have filed cases was difficult, the complainants
who were approached, on many occasions refused to answer the
questions) and hence the attempt was to have 300 sample size with as
much representation from the districts as possible. For analyzing the
perception of people who had already filed cases in consumer forums
158 Reflections on Consumer Protection

the samples obtained from the different districts were Alappuzha (51),
Ernakulam (75), Thrissure (69), Idukki (39), Thiruvananthapuram
(36) and Palakkad (30). In addition to this, 100 samples were collected
from the Cochin University community from two factions; first from
the educated group comprising teachers and administrative category
and the second from the class-four employees.

Section I

Consumer Perception
The section explores the perception of the general public about
consumer exclusion and also the perception of those who have
filed cases in consumer forums about the difficulties they face
in the forums. Inter-district comparisons have been made for all
possible variables after taking into account the sample adequacy.
Even though the existence of consumer forums and their roles are
known to the masses, the actual discharging of cases and providing
redressal to consumer complaints by the consumer forums are not
popular among the people. This is despite the fact that Kerala is one
among the three fastest consumer case disposing states in India.
It may be pointed out that while the Union Ministry of Consumer
Affairs and different agencies have been working hard in the
direction of popularizing consumer rights, the benefits of which
have translated into higher awareness about the role of consumer
forums among the masses, the achievements of consumer forums
in terms of redressing consumer complaints need to be focused for
encouraging people to file more cases.
To check whether there are differences in the effectiveness
of different sources of information in popularizing the role of
consumer forums, a Chi-Square test is used. The results of which
are given in Table 1.
Table 1: Chi-Square Tests –Source of Information about
Consumer Forums and Level of Awareness about Redressal of
Complaints by Consumer Forums

Value Df Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)


Pearson Chi-Square 30.482a 10 .001
Likelihood Ratio 31.370 10 .001
N of Valid Cases 300
Reflections on Consumer Protection 159

Table 1 offers statistical validity to the observation that some


sources of information were more effective than others with
informal sources topping the list. In order to check whether the
differences across the sample districts in terms of familiarity about
consumer forums offers the requisite redressal. This could be
indicative of the broader phenomenon that the level of awareness
about consumer forums, their functioning and the redressal offered
by them are different in different parts of the state. What is even
more interesting is the fact that in the districts that are generally
considered economically forward like Thiruvananthapuram, the
level of awareness among the general public about consumer forums
offering redressal is low. While the socially and economically
forward districts in Kerala find information about consumer forums
and consumer rights from conventional formal channels like print
and audio-visual media, these channels are not really efficient in
communicating the effectiveness of consumer forums in alleviating
the plight of aggrieved persons.
Correspondence analysis given in Figure 2 is used to depict
the relation between the differences in the desire levels of the
respondents to file a case in the consumer forum and their level of
awareness about consumer forums. As the point ‘very familiar’ is
far away from the rest of the points indicating that people who are
very familiar with consumer forums have a rather different level
of preference to file cases compared to people who are somewhat
familiar and totally unaware. Since the inertia statistic is small (13.4
percent) no attempt is made to unearth the underlying dimensions
that explain the significant Chi-Square value.
Figure 2 gives an interesting dimension. It looks at whether the
level of awareness about consumer forums has an inverse relation
with the attitude of people to file cases in consumer forums. In the
case of people who have never heard of consumer forums, close
to 75 percent of them have felt the need to file a case in consumer
court; albeit in varying degrees. But at the same time, in the case
of people who are ‘somewhat familiar’ with consumer forums,
more than 60 percent have never felt the need to file a consumer
case. This is of special importance when 100 percent of the
sample has responded that they have felt as cheated or exploited
consumers at some point of time in their life. The information
could be indicative that while even people who have never heard
160 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Fig. 2 : Correspondence Graph for Awareness Level about


Consumer Forums Offering Redressal and Strength
of the Need felt for Filing Complaints

Source: Worked out from field survey

of consumer forums are willing to file complaints for redressing


grievance; insufficient knowledge about consumer forums, their
procedures and outcomes could deter people from approaching
forums for redressal.
When we look at the distribution of the level of awareness
within each district as given in Table 2, among all the districts,
Alappuzha (36 percent) and Ernakulam (30.7 percent) has the
most number of people who are unaware about consumer rights.
Palakkad (25.3 percent) and Idukki (20 percent) are the districts
with the most number of people who have knowledge about all the
consumer rights.
Figure 3 depicts the differences in the level of awareness about
consumer rights across districts using a correspondence graph.
Table 2: Awareness Level about Consumer Rights Frequency (%)

  Distribution of Awareness about Consumer Rights within Districts (%)


District below
Unaware poor Average good very good Excellent Total
average
Alappuzha 36 28 8 12 4 4 8 100
Ernakulam 30.7 16 14.7 18.7 5.3 2.7 12 100
Reflections on Consumer Protection

Thrissur 4 4 16 24 32 4 16 100
Idukki 8 40 4 16 8 4 20 100
Thiruvananthapuram 10.7 32 14.7 26.7 10.7 0 5.3 100
Palakkad 10.7 28 1.3 10.7 21.3 2.7 25.3 100
Total 17 25 10 18.3 13 2.3 14.3 100

Source: Survey data


161
162 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Fig. 3: Correspondence Graph for Awareness Level

Source: Worked out from survey data

A correspondence graph is used to depict the pattern in which


the districts differ in their need to file cases in consumer forums.
Palakkad and Thrissur have found themselves closer to the point
‘always’ with Palakkad being closer than Thrissur.
While Thrissur leads the districts in terms of the proportion
of respondents who have always felt the need to file complaints in
consumer forums (44 percent), an equal proportion of respondents
in Thrissur have also said that they have never felt the need to
file complaints (44 percent). Figure 4 also places Ernakulam and
Idukki districts together in terms of the proportion of the people
who have never felt the need to file complaints in consumer forums.
Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha are not like the other districts
in terms of the need felt to file complaints in consumer forums.
Among all the districts, Thiruvananthapuram has the highest
proportion of respondents who have ‘often’ or ‘rarely’ felt the need
to file complaints in consumer courts. In the case of Alappuzha, the
responses are not strong enough to make the district’s affiliation
clear in any of the categories.
A factor analysis is performed to unearth the latent factors that
Reflections on Consumer Protection 163

Fig. 4: Correspondence Graph for Need Felt to File Complaints in


Consumer Forums

Source: Worked out from survey data

pose problems to people who have already filed cases in consumer


forums. 14 variables were identified based on the inferences
obtained from the field. As can be seen from Table 3, out of the
14 variables that were subjected to factor analysis, more than 75
percent of the common variance in these variables can be attributed
to four components (underlying factors).
Table 3 gives the rotated component matrix, with the loadings of
each variable on to the underlying factors. For ease of analysis, we
have decided to include only those variables whose factor loadings
are above 0.7. It can be seen that the variables ‘Lack of knowledge
about court procedures, Cases adjourned for unnecessary reasons,
Not getting enough time to justify and produce evidence, Members/
President frequently absent, People concerned demand bribes’ have
load heavily into factor 1. The underlying factor determined by
these variables may be labeled ‘Limited procedural information and
transparency’. Information about court procedures, its sequence etc.
may be unknown to many people who have filed cases in consumer
forums. The transparency issues associated with court verdict, the
logic behind arriving at awarding damages etc. may also have an
164 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Table 3: Rotated Component Matrixa

  Component
  1 2 3 4
Lack of knowledge about
court procedures 0.937 0.086 -0.164 0.047
Lengthy procedures 0.274 0.086 -0.004 0.75
Cases adjourned for unnec-
essary reasons 0.796 -0.083 0.19 0.12
Advocates are not reliable -0.2 -0.103 0.19 0.014
Respondents seldom appear
in the court 0.403 0.116 0.009 0.77
Not getting enough time to
justify and produce evidence 0.848 0.195 -0.196 0.114
Members/President frequent-
ly absent 0.919 0.161 -0.119 0.124
People concerned demand
bribes 0.884 -0.006 -0.015 0.028
Difficult to communicate the
plight 0.049 0.869 -0.281 0.119
Court language difficult to
understand 0.017 0.797 -0.126 0.273
Help of advocate unavoid-
able -0.014 0.823 0.268 -0.065
High fees charged by advo-
cates -0.086 -0.042 0.892 0.059
Expenditure is higher than
the benefit/worth of the case -0.062 0.026 0.896 0.11
Court rooms are crammed
0.221 0.705 0.075 -0.226
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.
a. Rotation converged in 5 iterations.

important role in shaping the first factor. The second factor can be
labeled as ‘Communication barriers’ as the variables ‘Difficult to
communicate the plight, Court language difficult to understand,
Help of advocate unavoidable’ are three out of four variables that
Reflections on Consumer Protection 165

have high loadings on the second factor. It is probably the language


barrier that is making people who have filed cases in consumer
forums to seek the help of advocates. This observation finds
support from the factor analysis as the variable ‘help of advocates
unavoidable’ has significant loading on the second factor along with
the other two variables. The third factor can be undoubtedly labeled
‘monetary factors’ as the only two variables that define this factor
are ‘High fees charged by advocates and Expenditure is higher than
the benefit/worth of the case’. This observation indicates that the
value of the complaint could be a major influential factor prompting
people to file complaints in the forum. The fourth factor may be
labeled as ‘delay in procedures’ as the variables ‘Lengthy procedures
and Respondents seldom appear in the court’ define the factor with
their heavy loadings to the factor.
Correspondence analysis (Figure 5) is performed to understand
the perception about the efficiency of consumer forums. We can
find the point ‘lot of aspects to be improved’ closer to the district
‘Alappuzha’ because, among the 15 responses in the category, 6 were

Fig. 5: Graph for Efficiency of Forums

Source: Worked out from survey data


166 Reflections on Consumer Protection

from Alappuzha. Even though Thrissur also has the same number
of responses in this category, the image of Thrissur is much better
explained by the response ‘efficient’ which lies closest to Thrissur
in the graph as the district has the highest comparative frequency in
terms of response to this category. Going by the same explanation,
we find Thiruvananthapuram to be closer to the response ‘some area
to be improved’. The districts Ernakulam and Idukki lie closer to the
point ‘very efficient’ indicating that the districts have the highest
comparative responses in this category.

Perception about the Strength of Existing Consumer Protection


Act (CPA)
Figure 6 clearly shows that there is considerable variation
regarding the perception of the consumers across various districts in
Kerala. Consumers in Trivandrum, Idukki and Ernakulam districts,
by and large have the perception that the existing CPA is good enough
to protect the plight of the consumers. But Palakkad consumers have
a different opinion while consumers in other districts have mixed
perception regarding the strength of the existing CPA.
Fig. 6: Graph for Strength of Existing CPA

Source: Worked out from survey data


Reflections on Consumer Protection 167

Relation between Nature of Complaints and Strength of Existing


CPA
To check the perception differences about the strength of
existing Consumer Protection Act, a correspondence analysis was
performed. Figure 7 shows that people who are undecided (neither
agree or disagree) as well as people who tend to disagree to the
statement that the existing CPA is strong enough are in minority as
these points lie far away from all other points. People in Palakkad
and Thrissur districts tend to agree that the existing CPA is strong
where as respondents from Idukki and Ernakulam strongly believe
that provisions in the existing CPA are strong enough to take care
of the consumer rights. Thiruvananthapuram as well as Alappuzha
is closer to the group that strongly agrees about the efficacy of the
existing CPA. However, since the respondents from Alappuzha
have significant presence in the category of respondents (6 out of
12) who were undecided about the strength of existing CPA, we can
see that the correspondence graph has pushed the district closer to
the category ‘neither agree nor disagree’.

Fig. 7: Correspondence Graph for Strength of CPA and Nature of


Complaints filed

Source: Worked out from survey data


168 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Section II

Product/Service-wise Inferences
Second section tries to put under radar information relating
availability, dishonouring of warranty, demanding of bills,
false information about products and defective products with
respect to six types of products or services which consumers in
Kerala predominantly come across, i.e. pharmaceutical products,
cosmetics, food products, home appliances, services, automobiles
and durable goods inter alia consumer exclusion. Chi-Square
analysis has been done for products vis-à-vis exploitation pattern
and the results are given in Table 4. Table 4a explains the Chi-
Square result for the information on pharmaceuticals among the
samples across the districts. It clearly states that, there is significant
difference in the information available on pharmaceuticals across
districts. About three-fourth of the respondents in the state have
not frequently received any records/bills while purchasing
pharmaceutical products, clearly shows the kind of exploitation
meted out by the consumers in the state making them unable to go
for redressal or complaints, if any. The trend is similar in almost all
districts. Only 5 percent of the respondents in the state got records
or bills while purchasing pharmaceuticals. It is seen that there is
no significant inter-district differences in terms of receiving any
records/bills while purchasing pharmaceutical products. Majority
of the respondents have received defective pharmaceutical products
some times in the form of expired or damaged medicines. The
feature is uniform with almost all respondents across the districts.
Chi-Square result shows no significant inter-district differences
in terms of defective pharmaceuticals. False information in the
form of falsifying the contents of the medicine by exaggerating
the exact benefits of medicines etc is being experienced sometimes
by half of the respondents. Dishonouring of warranty/contract on
pharmaceuticals is quite high.
Information available for consumers about cosmetics in
the pre-purchasing period has inter-district differences and is
also in varying nature. Half of the respondents in the districts of
Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur opined that information
was easily available about cosmetics in the pre-purchasing stage
itself. Table 4b Chi-Square test on information about cosmetics
Table 4: Chi-Square Test Tables

Getting defective
Availability of Providing records products/poor Dishonouring warranty/
information or bills service False information service terms
Value df Asymp. Asymp. Value df Asymp. Asymp. Asymp.
 No. of valid Sig. Sig. Sig. Sig. Sig.
cases = 300 (2-sided) Value df (2-sided) (2-sided) Value df (2-sided) Value df (2-sided)
Table 4a: Pharmaceutical products
Pearson 26.28 15 0.035 8.884 10 0.543 9.86 10 0.453 7.413 10 0.686 17.369 10 0.067
Chi-Square
Likelihood 26.4 15 0.034 9.265 10 0.507 9.045 10 0.528 7.549 10 0.673 16.947 10 0.076
Ratio
Linear- 0.11 1 0.74 2.264 1 0.132 0.085 1 0.77 0.962 1 0.327 0.194 1 0.659
Reflections on Consumer Protection

by-Linear
Association
Table 4b: Cosmetic products
Pearson 44.13 15 0 7.26 10 0.701 10.3 10 0.415 9.435 10 0.491 23.125 10 0.01
Chi-Square
Likelihood 46.5 15 0 7.859 10 0.643 9.69 10 0.468 9.396 10 0.495 23.955 10 0.008
Ratio
Linear- 0.046 1 0.83 0.317 1 0.573 0.808 1 0.369 0.744 1 0.388 2.069 1 0.15
by-Linear
Association
Table 4c: Food products
Pearson 15.27 20 0.761 6.892 10 0.736 8.692 10 0.562 28.62 10 0.001 15.688 10 0.109
Chi-Square
Likelihood 15.76 20 0.731 6.926 10 0.732 8.141 10 0.615 27.44 10 0.002 15.137 10 0.127
169

Ratio
Linear- 0.334 1 0.563 3.257 1 0.071 0.486 1 0.486 3.24 1 0.072 0.924 1 0.336
170

by-Linear
Association
Table 4d: Home appliances
Pearson 18.89 15 0.219 10.08 10 0.433 10.7 10 0.382 7.029 10 0.723 7.669 10 0.661
Chi-Square
Likelihood 20.49 15 0.154 10.36 10 0.409 8.377 10 0.592 7.076 10 0.718 7.379 10 0.689
Ratio
Linear- 0.813 1 0.367 1.251 1 0.263 0.017 1 0.897 1.914 1 0.167 0.052 1 0.82
by-Linear
Association
Table 4e: Services
Pearson 35.92 20 0.016 6.354 10 0.785 .. .. .. 7.27 10 0.7 11.291 10 0.335
Chi-Square
Likelihood 33.14 20 0.033 5.981 10 0.817 .. .. .. 6.912 10 0.734 10.816 10 0.372
Ratio
Linear- 0.076 1 0.783 0.303 1 0.582 .. .. .. 0.621 1 0.431 1.329 1 0.249
by-Linear
Association
Table 4f: Automobile and durable goods
Pearson 76.76 20 0 15.56 10 0.113 4.358 10 0.93 7.806 10 0.648 15.378a 10 0.119
Chi-Square
Likelihood 79.06 20 0 14.25 10 0.162 4.265 10 0.935 7.497 10 0.678 13.89 10 0.178
Ratio
Linear- 0.031 1 0.861 4.073 1 0.044 0.505 1 0.477 0.114 1 0.735 0.548 1 0.459
by-Linear
Association
Reflections on Consumer Protection
Reflections on Consumer Protection 171

shows the prevalence of significant inter-district differences in


this regard. Not providing bills and records is prevalent while
purchasing cosmetics. Chi-Square shows no significant inter-district
differences in terms of receiving any records/bills while purchasing
cosmetic products. Another pertinent problem faced by consumers
is defective goods and this is more in the case of cosmetics. Another
issue in this area is false information and Chi-Square result shows
no significant inter-district differences in false information about
cosmetic products. Dishonouring of warranty and contract is not
that frequent.
Majority of the respondents say that information on food
is easily available. The result of the Chi-Square also (Table 4c)
shows that there is no significant differences between districts as
regards information on food is concerned. About 70 percent of the
respondents throughout the state frequently do not receive any bill
or records while purchasing commodities. The trends are somewhat
similar among respondents across districts.
Sixty eight percent of the respondents purchased defective food
items in Kerala. Chi-Square result in Table 4c shows that it is not
statistically significant. Inter-district variation in the frequency of
reporting the purchase of defective goods as the figures in Table
6c show similar trends across districts. Ernakulam respondents (76
percent) indicate that false information was provided about food
items. Among the districts, respondents in Thrissur frequently
experienced dishonouring of warranty and contract by the retailer/
seller.
Among the districts, 73 percent of respondents in Ernakulam
district and 66 percent of respondents in Thiruvananthapuram
district said that, information on home appliances was easily
available. Chi-Square (Table 4d) shows that there is no significant
inter-district difference in terms of getting information about
home appliances in the state. Most of the respondents buy home
appliances without records/bills. Table 4d explains no inter district
differences in terms of receiving records/bills while purchasing
home appliances. 73 percent of the respondents purchased defective
home appliances explains no significant inter-district difference in
terms of buying defective home appliances. Providing false and
misleading information is quite prevalent across districts. Chances
172 Reflections on Consumer Protection

of dishonouring of warranty/contract on home appliances in general


are less among respondents across districts.
District wise information on services shows the availability of
adequate information across state. Chi-Square results in Table 4e
show that there is considerable difference in information availability
based on districts. District-wise break up and Chi-Square as depicted
in Table 4e show that there is no considerable difference between the
districts in terms of product records or bills. Majority of the respondents
sometimes or frequently get false information. Chi-square analysis as
shown in Table 4e shows frequent dishonouring of warranty conditions
(service terms) in varying levels in various districts.
Majority of the respondents have opined that the information on
automobile goods is available, but there is considerable difference
in the availability of information based on districts, which is evident
from Chi-Square value as shown in Table 4f. For 68.3 percent of
the cases, proper bills/records are given for automobile goods
and those experiencing issues frequently or sometimes are less
than 45 percent. There are issues with defective products in the
case of automobile and other goods. Situations of providing false
information are highest in Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad and
the situations of dishonouring the warranty/contract is also high in
the case of automobiles.
It is also clear that there are considerable asymmetry
of information pertaining to production and expiry date for
pharmaceutical and food products, home appliances, automobiles
and service sector. This also highlights non-compliance of warranty
and timely services.

Section III

Education and Exclusion


Higher levels of education are posited to facilitate better
understanding of consumer rights and hence equip the consumers
to fight consumer exploitation and exclusion. Proper awareness
about all the rights is necessary for a consumer to averse himself
from being cheated by the seller. From low education category, no
one is aware of all the consumer rights, whereas 66.7 percent of the
respondents with awareness about the consumer rights are familiar
Reflections on Consumer Protection 173

with 1 to 3 rights. It can be inferred from Chi-Square in Tables 5 that


there is considerable difference between education of a consumer
and his awareness level about the consumer rights.
Table 5: Chi-Square tests - Awareness about Consumer Rights
a. Awareness about consumer rights b. Education and
awareness about
consumer rights
  Value df Asymp. Exact Exact Value df Asymp.
Sig. Sig. Sig. Sig.
(2-sided) (2-sided) (1-sided) (2-sided)
Pearson 33.762 1 0    9.283 2 0.010
Chi-Square
Continuity 31.473 1 0    .. .. ..
Correctionb
Likelihood 36.022 1 0    10.151 2 0.006
Ratio
Fisher’s       0 0 .. .. ..
Exact Test
Linear- 33.424 1 0    8.340 1 0.004
by-Linear
Association

Scope of Exploitation for Products


The respondents were asked to record their perception about the
level of exploitation in various products/services, which are divided
into 11 categories. To understand the product of high consumer
exploitation, factor analysis based on principle component method
was used. The sample adequacy for factor analysis was tested using
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of Sampling Adequacy Test. This
measure varies between 0 and 1, and values closer to 1 are better.
The test gives a value of 0.727, which is greater than the generally
accepted minimum of 0.6, indicating sample adequacy. Bartlett’s
Sphericity Test, which tests the hypothesis that the variables
subjected to factor analysis are uncorrelated, is rejected with cent
percent accuracy. The results are portrayed in Table 6. The analysis
brought out four factors that accounted for 59.65 percent of the total
variance accounted for by the initial 11 factors. However, the three
factors accounted for almost 50 percent of the total variance.
174 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Table 6: Rotated Component Matrix


  Component

  1 2 3 4
Perishable goods       0.493
FMCG       0.834
Consumer durables   0.773    
Financial services and bank-
ing(mutual funds, bank transac-
tions) 0.644      
Airlines and travel agencies       0.586
Telephone and communication   0.613    
Public service utilities (electrici-
ty, water) 0.691      
Vehicles related   0.662    
Unorganized financial services,
automobile financing 0.748      
Insurance policies 0.857      
Health care products and services        
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy= 0.727; Bart-
lett’s Test of Sphericity: Chi-Square=160.39, Sig=.000
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis; Rotation Method:
Varimax with Kaiser Normalization; Rotation converged in 15 iterations.
It is evident from the Rotated Component Matrix in Table 6
that airlines and travel agencies, telecom, public service utilities
and chitty/unorganized financial sector have a factor loadings of
0.5 or above with regard to the first component. These services
are considered to have a high scope for exploitation. The second
factor has positive correlation with consumer durables and financial
services. Third factor shows a positive correlation with FMCG and
vehicles.

Attitude towards Retail Outlets


The respondents were asked about their opinion on the benefits
of retail outlets. The analysis based on educational qualifications
shows that there is considerable difference between the education
and their attitude. Analysis shows that, those with high educational
Reflections on Consumer Protection 175

qualifications were more aware of the benefits of shopping from the


retail outlets. They were more aware and agreed that benefits such
as convenience, economy, and freedom of choice, quality, diverse
products, and better customer care support, freedom to weigh,
better after sales services, better grievance redressal mechanism,
availability of more choices, time saving and better offers are
available in the retail outlets. However, majority of those with low
educational qualifications were not at all aware of the benefits of
these outlets. Whether they verify quantity, brand image, expiry
date, conditions, bills, MRP, ingredients, quality marks, offers/
discounts, terms and conditions, place of manufacture and contact
address to send complaints are also highly linked with the education
level of the consumers. Statistical inferences show that education
is a major determining factor in making consumer choices as well
as in overcoming most of the ill-effects of consumer exploitation.
This is more important for taking appropriate decisions in areas
such as quantity exploitation, evaluation of quality of the products,
evaluating offers and discounts, comparison of brand products,
freedom to choose and availing warranty.

Conclusions and Policy Options


With almost one third of the sample responding that they have
always felt the need to file complaints in the consumer forums, it is
evident that the instance of consumer dissatisfaction/exploitation in
the state is high. But most of the respondents have also said that the
option of filing a case does not seem worthwhile when considering
the amount of the time needed to be spent in relation to the value
of the product. Almost 56 percent of the sample responded that
they have never heard of consumer courts offering any redressal
to consumer complaints. While the existence of consumer forums
and their roles are known to the masses, the discharging of cases
and providing redressal to consumer complaints by the consumer
forums are not popular among the people in Kerala. It is imperative
that clarifications be made about the cost of filing complaints in
consumer forums in order to encourage people to file when they
face exploitation.
It looks as if the level of awareness about consumer forums
has an inverse relation with the attitude of people to file cases in
consumer forums. The information could be indicative that while
176 Reflections on Consumer Protection

people who have never heard of consumer forums are willing to


file complaints for redressing grievance. Insufficient knowledge
about consumer forums, their procedures and outcomes could deter
people from approaching forums for redressal. Information about
court procedures, its sequence etc seems to be unknown to many
people who have filed cases in consumer forums. The transparency
issues associated with forum verdict, the logic behind arriving at
awarding damages etc may also have an important role in shaping
the first factor. Communication also is an important issue faced
by people who have filed cases in consumer forums. It is probably
the language barrier that is making people who have filed cases in
consumer forums to seek the help of advocates. The value of the
complaint could be a major determining factor prompting people
to file complaints in the forum. The delay in procedures is another
difficulty that people who have filed cases face.
In order to combat exclusion effectively the awareness level
of consumers about their rights as well as the support mechanisms
that exist to help them need to be increased. Targeting a five year
window to increase the level of awareness may be planned. In
addition to the existing channels of communication it is desirable to
have consumer education strengthened in schools. The programme
of starting consumer clubs in schools as part of a national initiative
to sensitize school children about consumer rights need to be
extended to all schools in the state. Consumer education should
be made as a compulsory non credit course at the secondary and
higher secondary education level. The idea of offering the course
at two levels is to make sure that the continuity in the objective
is not lost. At the higher secondary level the focus could be on
consumer rights. The pedagogy need to have a heavier practical
component with the teachers actually taking the students to shops
to teach them about the various aspects that need to be taken care of
at the pre-purchasing and purchasing stage. At the secondary level
of education, the course could focus on visits to consumer forums
and role plays of the proceedings of consumer forums. These will
certainly ensure that students, the next generation consumers, get
acquainted with the procedures. The recommendation is made
against results from the analysis which showed that a general level
education does not really have an influence on awareness about
consumer rights. From the analysis performed, it was understood
that the class four employees of the University from where the
Reflections on Consumer Protection 177

sample was selected to determine the impact of education on


exclusion, who has a minimum of secondary school education, had
disturbingly low levels of awareness about consumer rights.

References
1. Beall, J and Piron, L. H (2005), DFID Social Exclusion Review,
Department for International Development (DFID).
2. Hamilton, Kathy (2009), Low-income Families: Experiences and
Responses to Consumer Exclusion, International Journal of Sociology
and Social Policy, Vol.29. Nos.9/10, pp.543-557.
3. Hohnen, P (2007), Having the Wrong Kind of Money: A Qualitative
Analysis of New Forms of Financial, Social and Moral Exclusion in
Consumerist Scandinavia, The Sociological Review, Vol. 55 No. 4,
pp.748-67.
4. Howard, John A. and Sheth, J.N. (1969), The Theory of Buyer Behavior,
New York: John Wiley and Sons.
5. Oliver, Richard L (1992), An Investigation of the Attribute Basis of
Emotion and Related Affects in Consumption: Suggestions for a Stage-
Specific Satisfaction Framework, Advances in Consumer Research, Eds.
John F. Sherry and Brian Sternthal. Ann Arbor, MI: Association for
Consumer Research, 237-244.
6. Swan, I. Frederick Trawick, and Carroll, G. Maxwell (1982), Satisfaction
Related to Predictive, Desired Expectations: A Field Study, in H. Keith
Hunt and Ralph L. Day, eds. Bloomington, New Findings on Consumer
Satisfaction and Complaining. IN Indiana University, 15-22.
7. Tse, D. K. and Wilton, P. C (1988), Models of consumer satisfaction
formation: an extension, Journal of Marketing Research, 204-212.
178 Reflections on Consumer Protection

8
Consumer and Medical
Negligence: A Case Study
of Consumer Redressal
Mechanism in the Delivery
of Medical Services in the
Rural Areas

Shakti Kumar Pandey

Introduction
The service which medical professionals render to us is the
noblest. Since long the medical profession is highly respected,
but today a decline in the standard of the medical profession can
be attributed to increasing number of litigations against doctors
for being negligent narrowing down to “medical negligence”. It’s
a common observation that medical practitioners, hospitals are
being attacked by family members of patient for alleged medical
negligence.
It has been felt since long that the rural consumers of our
country are victims of constant exploitation and harassment, so far
as the health and medical services are concerned. Social workers
and media have always portrayed the helplessness of poor masses
in this essential and basic need of their life. Their backwardness,
illiteracy, ignorance and poverty are the main causes due to which
they cannot resist and fight back. Unless sufficiently harsh legal
security is provided and strict measures are adopted, it is not easy to
support these people and to ensure a better quality of life for them.
We have seen numerous cases in which the private hospitals
and nursing homes are cheating the patients and their attendants.
It is a common experience that they do not discuss the details of
Reflections on Consumer Protection 179

problems or diseases with the patients and attendants, and that they
are charging exorbitantly – sometimes in the name of operation
charges, sometimes in the name of pathological tests, and sometimes
for medicines, nursing charges etc. They are supplying fake and
spurious drugs. Very often after keeping the patients for several
days, they tell the attendants to take the patient to a bigger hospital.
And the vicious circle continues.
Thus the rural consumers are facing problems, and they suffer
frequent exploitation and harassment in the hands of the doctors,
many of whom are not even qualified. Lack of proper medical
facilities and presence of quacks everywhere in the rural segment
lead to chaotic situation in medical services. Lack of awareness is
hampering the health of the rural consumers and putting them to
risk by the use of spurious and fake drugs. The existing mechanism
is poor; mostly the medical practitioners have their own clout in the
area. Strict legal provisions and awareness campaign is needed.
There has been fast spreading misconduct amongst the medical
professionals. The unethical practices have gone to a level where
the basic purpose of medical profession that is service to humanity
has failed. Few unethical practices like fee sharing, particularly
prescribing a company’s medicine, selling of body parts etc. for
personal monetary gains are openly discussed in the society these
days but never come to the surface due to lack of concrete proof. To
err is human. Mistakes occur but which occur due to carelessness
and negligence cannot be let off. The components of negligence are
duty, breach and resulting damage.
The health service has been under the purview of the Consumer
Protection Act, 1986. The landmark case Indian Medical Association
vs. V. P. Shantha brought the medical professionals within the ambit
of “service” as defined in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The judgment given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,
three judges bench, in October 2005, ruled that doctors should not
be held criminally responsible unless there is prima facie evidence
before the court in the form of a credible opinion from another
competent doctor, preferably a Government doctor in the same
field of medicine, supporting the charges of rash and negligent act.
This judgment has put brake on the possibility of prosecution and
punishment of doctors.
180 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Objectives
Improving public health for all is documented in the Constitution
of India as one of the primary duties of the state. To achieve this,
the planning process of the country provides a broad framework to
the states to develop their health services infrastructure, as well as
facilities for medical education and research. Since the inception
of the planning process, the central and state governments have
experienced a number of constraints in implementing the health
programme effectively.
In 1982, the National Health Policy (NHP) acknowledged
these constraints and suggested an integrated and comprehensive
approach towards the future development of health care services.
To mitigate the problem of limited resources, the policy document
recommended that the states design processes to encourage the
practice by private medical professionals and investment by non-
government agencies in establishing curative centres.
It is true that with the improved income and education, the
expectations of the consumers have also increased. It is not merely
the financial and physical access that has become important but
the manner of delivery, the availability of various facilities and
the interpersonal and diagnostic aspect of care also matter to
the people with enhanced economic earnings. In the rural India,
inadequate availability of doctors and medical equipment, poor
clinical examination and poor quality of drugs were the important
drawbacks reported at government hospitals.
The role of government in ensuring that its country’s healthcare
system provides optimal services for its rural population has been greatly
emphasized, but results have been below expectations. Improvement
in the quality of primary healthcare services apart from increasing
accessibility and affordability has become a matter of grave concern
for the rural folks of our country in the recent years. The meaning
of quality in healthcare system has been interpreted differently by
different researchers. Ovretveit (1992) identified three “stakeholder”
components of quality: client, professional, and managerial. After
70 years of independence, a number of urban and growth-orientated
developmental programmes are being implemented, but nearly 833
million rural people (about 70 percent of the total population), half of
which are below the poverty line (BPL) continue to fight a hopeless
and constantly losing battle for survival and health.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 181

The rural populations, who are the supposed to be prime


beneficiaries of the policies, work in the most hazardous atmosphere
and live in abysmal living conditions. Unsafe and unhygienic birth
practices, unclean water, poor nutrition, subhuman habitats, and
degraded and unsanitary environment are challenges to the public
health system. The majority of the rural population are small-
holders, artisans and labourers, with limited resources that they
spend chiefly on food and necessities such as clothing and shelter.
They have no money to spend on health. The rural peasant worker,
who strives hard under adverse weather conditions to produce food
for others, is often the first victim of epidemic.
The objective of the study was to find out in detail the kinds
of injustices and frauds being committed on the rural masses by
the medical practitioners and hospitals, their middlemen who are
mostly the criminals and mafias of the health and in education
sector. Through this study we sought to draw attention towards the
legal provisions made in developed countries in this regard with
a view to protect the consumers; and suggest as to what can be
done regarding this. The study brings forth the possible steps and
provisions which can be taken at the social level as well as legal
level. This is urgently needed in our country to prevent the rural
community from exploitation and injustice in the field of health and
medical services. We need to formulate policies in future to ensure
better consumer rights, protection and welfare in this field.
A study of the existing literature on consumer welfare revealed
that no systematic study was done to evaluate the provisions of
medical services and its impact on the consumers in the rural areas.
The present study has been an effort to fill this gap and recommend
suggestions for protecting the consumers from unethical acts of the
medical service providers. This is just the beginning of the larger
discussions in this part of the country where social enlightening
process is still at very nascent stage. This study will help to focus
some light on much dread of the ‘unknown’ that is inherent in legal
aspects of medical practice, especially in relation to the Consumer
Protection Act.

Methodology
Mere mention of the Consumer Protection Act at any gathering
or scientific meeting of doctors evokes their instant attention and
182 Reflections on Consumer Protection

all other conversation ceases, giving rise to passionate exchange of


opinion, experiences, fears, etc. and questions are asked about the
implications of the application of the Act to the medical profession.
It is these questions and fears which are sought to be understood
by this small research study conducted across the villages of four
blocks – Sadar, Mangraura, Sandava Chandika and Lakshmanpur
– in Pratapgarh district of UP, with the help and support of 400
respondents (one hundred from each block) and 100 medical
professionals (25 from each block).
This study has been survey-based and the data was collected
both through primary and secondary sources. Secondary data was
collected from various publications, government reports. Primary
data was collected through field survey. Two sets of questionnaires
were prepared and administered randomly on the consumers and
hospitals in four blocks of Pratapgarh District of Eastern Uttar
Pradesh. The blocks selected for the study were Sadar, Sandawa
Chandika, Mangraura and Lakshmanpur. Keeping in view the time
schedule and budget estimates the sample size was of 400 consumers
and 100 medical service providers. From each block 100 consumers
and 25 medical service providers were taken as the sample size.
Before the questionnaires were administered, they were pre-
tested on a randomly selected sample and necessary changes were
incorporated. As government hospitals provide free services to
patients, they do not fall under the ambit of the Consumer Protection
Act. Therefore, only private medical service providers were selected
for the study. The data was then tabulated and presented in a report
form.
This study mainly focused on the Consumer Protection Act, its
provisions vis-a-vis doctor-patient relationship in Pratapgarh (UP).
The study has been conducted with 400 respondents all of who were
from the rural background. It must be noted that the participation
in such survey which talks about doctor-patient relationship itself is
a huge step for future studies in the sphere. This is the first major
study in UP on this subject.

Major Findings
The detailed responses were sought from the respondents on
various aspects and the same have been grouped in 04 different
sections as follow:
Reflections on Consumer Protection 183

A. Patient Profile
In all 400 patients were interviewed from 100 different clinics
of varying sizes and also the kind of services being provided in
these clinics. The profiling was done on following points:
1. Family Size
2. Number of Children
3. Number of Children under 13 years and above 13 years.
4. Occupation
5. Income
6. Number of persons suffering from illness
7. Spending on illness
8. Borrowing for illness

Occupation, Income and Illness


While analysing the responses of the participating respondents
it is equally important to understand the background from which
they are coming.

B. Medical Facilities
The second aspect of this study was to understand the medical
facilities available for the respondents, to examine the extent of
facilities available.
• 19 respondents mentioned about the availability of medical
facilities in the village, whereas other responses were negative.
All these 19 respondents have confirmed that medical
practitioner available is either quack or RMP. It also means that
facilities are not available at almost all the places and wherever
it is available it is not upto the mark.
• Out of total respondents, 366 respondents have mentioned that
no medical store is available in the village. It shows the extent of
availability of the basic infrastructure like medical store.
• Even at the nearest market only the quacks are providing services.
346 respondents have confirmed that quack / RMP is providing
the medical services to the respondents whereas in about 54 cases
even this facility is not available at the nearest market.
184 Reflections on Consumer Protection

• It was also observed that nursing home facility is available at


the nearest market area in only about 15 places whereas 385
respondents have confirmed that no such facility is available in
the nearest market area too.
• 354 respondents have confirmed that medical store is available
in the nearest market area whereas 46 respondents have
responded it negatively.
• 309 respondents have reported that they have been to the
medical practitioner in last 05 years multiple times, whereas
91 families have never been to the medical practitioner at any
point of time.

C. Experience of the Respondents


All the respondents have been to the various places for seeking
medical support as needed. We have tried to analyse the experience
of the respondents at the following 03 places:
• At village level
• At nearby market
• At district headquarter

At Village Level
In earlier section we have understood the extent of medical
facilities availble at the village level. This section will help us to
understand the experience of the respondents vis-a-vis medical
facility available at the village level.
• It was observed that out of total patients at the village level
21 were in the age group of 01 – 18 Years, whereas 29 were
major between 18 – 30 years and 59 above 30 years of age have
consulted doctors for various ailments.
• As mentioned earlier the medical practitioners were available in
only about 34 cases and all of them were either quacks or RMP.
• It must be noted that the medical practitioners in all these 34
cases have administered simple medicines and in some cases
i.e. in 04 cases simple advise has been offered.
• It was observed that total 35 cases have mentioned about the
benefit accrued to them which ranged between 30 percent to
70 percent. It must be noted that 18 have mentioned the benefit
Reflections on Consumer Protection 185

level between 10 – 30 percent and 17 cases have reported that


they have been benefitted between 30 – 70 percent from the
doctors they have consulted.
• About the professional fees of the doctors, it was observed that
in 16 cases doctors have charged between Rs. 50 to Rs. 100, in
another 16 cases doctors have charged the fees between Rs. 100
to Rs. 500 and in one case doctor has charged between Rs. 500
to Rs. 1000.
• In some cases the patients at the village level have been referred
to the places where more facilities are available. In all 65 cases
have been referred. Out of the patients referred about 42 patients
have been referred to the nearby market area, 03 cases to the
private doctors at district places and about 10 cases have been
referred to government hospital at the district level.

Experience of the Patient in Nearby Market


All the patients did not recover with treatment at the village level.
Some of them went to nearby market on their own or by reference.
The experience of these patients also needs to be understood. This
helps to understand the satisfaction level at the nearby market level.

Level of Benefits
• All the patients were from rural background. They experienced
varying degree of satisfaction with various doctors. It was
observed that only 03 out of total respondent group size of 145
had satisfaction level in the top most group of 70 – 100 percent.
• The patients from the rural area went to this nearby market
with high level of expectations. The patients expected that
they would be informed with the nature of ailment and also
the estimated cost of the treatment. We have also tried to
understand the behaviour pattern and satisfaction level of the
patients viz-a-viz doctors.
• Doctors in the nearby market area were having about 204 cases
for various ailments. This chunk is very large as compared to
referred patient from village level.

Experience at District Level


In this study we have analysed the overall experience of the
patients with doctors at the district level. The assessment is done on
186 Reflections on Consumer Protection

the following parameters:


• Facilities and Services
• Staff behaviour
• Doctor’s behaviour
• Information on ailment
• Cost estimate of treatment
• Final bill to the patient
• Negligence by doctor
• Place of Referral
Patient at the district level are either referred patients or have
approached on their own for the treatment. The expectation level
of the patient is even higher in case they approach the district level
doctors. The research sought to understand the satisfaction level at
the district level on various counts as was done at village level and
nearby market level.
The study also tried to understand the negligence by the doctor
at district level. Only one case of negligence has been reported
whereas in 324 cases the response was reported to be positive. In
cases referred to other places, it was observed that 39 cases have
been referred to the district hospital whereas whopping 110 cases
have been referred to private nursing home. One of the patient has
also been referred to the alternative medicine.

D. Medical Negligence by Doctors


This is the core of this study. In this study we wanted to
understand the awareness level of the patients and their rights under
Consumer Protection Act related to medical negligence by doctors.
We have also tried to understand the awareness level of the patients
on various provisions under the Act. Following are some of the
observations made during the study.
During the study we wanted to understand from the patients
whether they were aware that a complaint can be lodged against the
doctor in case of negligence during the treatment. It was observed
that 319 patients were not aware about this whereas about 81 patients
did not respond.
In this representative study about 100 medical professionals
Reflections on Consumer Protection 187

were interviewed and it was found that all of them were operating
from a small clinic managed by them.
The other important aspect of the study was to understand
the kind of professionals operating in the field. This will help to
strengthen the Information, Education and Communication (IEC)
strategy for consumer protection and rights of doctor as a medical
professional. It will help to see the provisions of Consumer Protection
Act as complimentary in the relationship of doctor – patient and not
as monstrous one enacted with evil intentions.
It was observed that all the respondent medical professionals
examine about 5-10 patients daily. All the patients (100 percent)
were from rural background. The highlights of the responses from
patients are summarized as follow:
• All the doctors examined about 5-10 patients daily.
• All the patients were from rural background.
• No patient has been referred for further treatment during the
period of consideration i.e. in last 30 days.
• Neither any doctor nor patient has reported any bad experience.
It also means that the interaction between doctor and patient was
very healthy or doctor would not like to talk about it. It also leads
to the conclusion that the patients have no expectation from the
doctor apart from being treated or they do not understand the
difference between being treated and treated with information.
• Since there was no complaint, the nature of complaints could
not be analysed. This also shows that there is complete vacuum
of information on this front.
• Not a single doctor was aware about the provisions of
Consumer Protection Act. This also shows that there is lack of
awareness and also the state machinery could not reach out to
the professionals for whom the Act has been enacted. It must
also be noted that all the respondent doctors irrespective of their
qualification, experience, set-up and age are not aware about the
provisions in CPA.
• All medical professionals (100 percent) were of the opinion that
doctors should not be covered under CPA. This was ironical
that no one is aware about the provisions in the Act but they
would not like to be covered under the Act.
188 Reflections on Consumer Protection

• No doctor is aware about any guidelines either by Supreme


Court or by the professional body such as MCI.

Conclusion
On the basis of the survey conducted in the rural areas i.e.
the four targeted blocks of Pratapgarh district of eastern UP it
is concluded that even the doctors are not properly aware about
the provisions of Consumer Protection Act related to medical
negligence and its implications. They perhaps need proper and
thorough training about the provisions and the procedures of these
Forums. Occasional orientation programs may be organized for the
medical practitioners.
Similarly, the patients are perhaps more ignorant about
Consumer Protection Act and its provisions related to medical
negligence. They are not able to get benefit from these provisions,
though the government and social organizations are trying to
popularize these provisions. Training programs must be organized
in the villages to make them aware of these provisions. Thus we
may say that the system of IEC needs strengthening at both levels
i.e. at the level of doctors and also amongst the patients. We may
even infuse values amongst doctors – the human values and the
moral uprightness. That will help in avoiding the conflicts resulting
from litigation and legal proceedings.
It will be imperative to organise the common sessions for
doctors as well as patients for developing proper understanding
about the Consumer Protection Act and its provisions related to
medical negligence. The joint sessions will be helpful in generating
interaction between the two warring groups. Further, the provisions
of Consumer Protection Act should be displayed prominently in all
the clinics, nursing homes, hospitals and Primary Health Centres
to increase awareness level of the patients about it. This will make
the doctors more careful, and the consumers aware of their rights.
The patients should also be made aware about the procedure to file
a complaint regarding medical negligence against the doctor. Most
of the consumers filing complaints are taking the help of lawyers,
which frustrates the intention of the policy-makers that the process
should be simplified and made easy.
In a nutshell we can say that the rights of the patients should be
explained properly to the patients under Consumer Protection Act.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 189

The awareness campaign should be at all levels i.e. villages, nearby


market area and at the district level. It is also observed that most
of the medical practitioners in rural areas are quacks and specific
focus should be on the provisions of CPA related to quacks. Doctors
have mentioned reservations regarding CPA. They feel that doctors
should not be covered under CPA. Doctors are not aware about
guidelines of Supreme Court or Medical Council of India regarding
medical negligence.
190 Reflections on Consumer Protection

9
Health Insurance
– Can it reduce the
Vulnerability of the
Poor? An Explanatory
Study with Reference to
Rajiv Aarogyasri Health
Insurance Scheme of
Andhra Pradesh

L. Reddeppa

Introduction
In the emerging situation of rising health care costs, and in
the absence of a national health care scheme or a health insurance
scheme, many people are rendered bankrupt when faced with health
problems. This phenomenon is all the more serious in the case of
the poor sections of the society. In order to obviate this problem,
a health insurance scheme targeting the poor families known as
Aarogyasri Health Insurance Scheme (AHIS) with public and
private partnership is being implemented in Andhra Pradesh since
April 2007. The drawbacks in the system of public health care were
clearly pointed out in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12, P: 67).
The scheme provides financial protection of up to Rs.2 lakhs per year
for medical treatment for each family Below Poverty Line (BPL).
However, identification of BPL is not free from the criticism of
inclusion and exclusion errors in most of the welfare schemes. How
the AHIS scheme overcomes this problem needs to be investigated.
The rate of utilization of the scheme and the services, apart from
detailed awareness about the scheme entitlements is determined
by a number of other factors such as accessibility of hospitals,
Reflections on Consumer Protection 191

friendly nature of the scheme, availability of friendly services from


hospitals, friendly claim procedures, etc. Also, given the educational
background of the poor and their lack of capacity to demand their
entitlements, whether or not they are able to get a fair deal from
the administrators, and efficient and satisfactory services from
the hospitals, are also issues worth examining. This is particularly
important in the case of private hospitals as they are known for their
discriminatory practices. It is also important to examine whether
proper treatment protocols are being followed and whether there
is administration of unwanted investigations, as private hospitals
are notorious for several unscrupulous practices. The chances for
overcharging by private hospitals are also high under the insurance
scheme, and the chances for these unscrupulous practices can
be said to be more under the scheme, as the consumers have no
bargaining power, and are at the receiving end. Further, it can also
be hypothesized that there may exist an unholy alliance between the
private hospitals and the health workers, as they are the facilitators
at the ground level, for guiding the patients.

Objectives of the Project


The main objectives of the study were to assess:
• Whether the scheme is more inclusive, and there is awareness
about the scheme and the entitlements.
• The rate of utilization of the health care services and the level of
consumer’s satisfaction.
• Whether the scheme is planned and administered in a consumer-
friendly manner.
• The current role of public hospitals and their future prospects.
• The social, economic and medical impact of the scheme.

Methodology
The study is mainly based on primary data. As the scheme
was initially implemented in Mahabubnagar, Anantapur and
Srikakulam districts, the primary data was collected from these
three districts. From each district, two mandals with the largest
number of card holders were selected, and from each mandal, two
urban and two rural villages were selected. From the list of BPL
families, due representation was given to all the social groups SC
192 Reflections on Consumer Protection

/ ST / OBC / others through stratified random sampling method.


Thus, altogether, the primary data was collected from 643 families
spread over in 24 wards/villages. The sample included 382 families
that were enrolled and have availed the services, 127 families that
were enrolled but have not availed the services, and 134 families
that were not enrolled.

Limitations of the Study


The white ration card is substitute for Aarogyasri health card.
The families getting major treatment with their own expenditure
were not available as control group to the study. The non-
beneficiaries and non-card holders are mostly other than the salaried
income group. They can also get assistance from Aarogyasri, if they
provide income certificate below the annual income of Rs. 60000
in rural areas and Rs. 75000 in urban areas. Most of the non-card
holders can also produce income certificate to claim Aarogyasri,
if any necessity for treatment. Thus, there is no much difference
between non-beneficiaries and non-card holders chosen in the
sample.

Major Findings of the Study

Inclusiveness of Families under Aarogyasri


There were about 190.78 lakh white ration cards (BPL cards)
under circulation in 2010. In addition, the government also started
issuing new white rations cards under the Rachabanda Programme
initiated by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. This means that
all the white ration card holders were entitled to the benefits of the
Rajiv Aarogyasri Health Insurance Scheme (RAHIS) in the state,
and that the exclusion error under the scheme is negligible. As per
the data, about 2.03 crore families – or about 8 crore population,
if the size of the family is 4 members –are eligible to claim under
the scheme each year. Though the scheme was envisaged initially
for BPL families, the coverage included more than 85 percent of
the total households in the state. Such a large coverage has been
possible because the eligible family income for assistance was
enhanced up to Rs. 60000 in rural and Rs. 75000 in urban areas
in the year 2007-08. This provided scope for coverage even of non-
BPL households, as well as for inclusive error. The reasons for this
were: lack of standard measures of income estimation of the family,
Reflections on Consumer Protection 193

machinery for identification and accounting practices, and vested


interests of the political parties. The resultant effect was that the
government has become more critical in the allocation of budget for
primary health care due to paucity of budget to Aarogyasri.

Rate of Utilisation of the Scheme


Based on the secondary data, the number of patients who
received treatment in all the districts of the state since the inception
of the scheme was about 10.69 lakhs, and the claim amount
(approved) was about Rs. 3016.68 crores. It is important to note
that the average claim per patient was Rs. 28204 as against the
maximum eligible amount of Rs. 50000. The claim was from about
2 to 3 lakh patients per year. This shows that the rate of utilization
of the claim is not even 0.5 percent, if the total population is taken
into consideration for the four-year period, and it is less than 1.5
percent, if one family is considered as a unit. It was observed that
most of the patients claimed only once during the four-year period
of the scheme’s implementation. Similarly, each family has mostly
one patient only, though the amount eligible per family is up to Rs.
2 lakhs. The scheme covers 942 diseases identified to be affecting
the poor, and whose treatment protocols are being evolved. The
problem or disease intensity can be analysed based on the disease-
wise frequency of the patients. The patients or claims were skewed
in very few diseases and the patients are very few in certain diseases.
It was also observed from the secondary data that there were less
than 100 patients in the entire state for half of the eligible diseases,
during the four-year period.

Level of Awareness about the Scheme


The positive feature of the scheme is that the Aarogyamitra is
available to the patients placed at all PHCs and referral hospitals
when the policy-holder or patient needs guidance and help for
locating the doctors and assistance for admission in the referral
hospital. It was observed from the study that the policy-holders
and patients are aware of the diseases that are eligible for claim;
choice in the selection of hospital; cashless transactions for all
treatment procedures; available post-treatment services, including
reimbursement of transport cost for the patient and his attendant
under the scheme. However, they were not aware of claim amount
eligible for each disease due to variations in the ceiling within the
194 Reflections on Consumer Protection

broad category of each disease. There is not much difference in the


levels of awareness between social groups (SC, ST, OBC, General,
and Minority); illiterates and literates; and rural and urban areas.
This was observed from not only the beneficiaries of the scheme but
also non-beneficiaries as well as non-holders of the Aarogyasri card.
For this, the Government is responsible for giving wide publicity
through distribution of pamphlets and brochures, maintaining
display boards about Aarogyasri, and conducting health camps in
rural areas more frequently. Apart from these, provision of prompt
ambulance services (through a toll-free number) has created
confidence among the public about the services of the Government
and the Aarogyasri scheme.
Despite this, the patients are not aware of the pre-authorization
claim that would be approved for treatment/surgery. The data
showed that majority of the patients (71.7 percent) have not received
any information about the pre-authorisation amount (estimate)
approved for treatment. Such cases were relatively higher in public
hospitals (80.5 percent) than in private hospitals (69.2 percent). It
is the responsibility of the hospital management to disclose the
pre-authorisation amount that can be claimed for the treatment. At
the same time, the beneficiaries or policy-holders are not inclined
to know the eligible claim or pre-authorisation amount or amount
claimed by the hospital due to the fact that they are not paying
anything from their pocket. It is common understanding that most
of the hospitals would claim the pre-authorisation amount, which is
supposed to be received as reimbursement.

Availability of Quality and Timely Services in Referral Hospitals


In order to become empanelled as a referral hospital for treating
cases under Aarogyasri, the hospital must have the required
infrastructure and facilities, such as operation theatre; lab and
equipment; scanning/x-ray facility; ambulance services; and latest
medicines. It was observed from the study that all the referral
hospitals were fully equipped with all the facilities mentioned
above. The quality can be categorised as good and not-so-good with
regard to the services provided by the various stakeholders such as
the Aarogyamitra, doctors, nurses and hospital administration, as
well as facilities such as hospital equipment and food, as all of these
play some role or the other in providing services to the patients,
either directly or indirectly. The data indicates that the services of
Reflections on Consumer Protection 195

all the stakeholders were good in more than 95 percent of the cases
both in public and private sector hospitals, with the exception of
food (82 percent).
Admission in the referral hospital should be immediate,
provided all the protocols and guidelines are followed. It was
observed that the admission was within 24 hours in 58 percent of
the total number of cases in the three districts taken together. These
cases were serious in nature and the doctors have given priority to
providing emergency treatment. There were also instances where the
patients purposely delayed their treatment in order to get admission
in the hospital of their choice. The data shows that 76.7 percent
of the patients have received treatment in private hospitals, while
23.1 percent have received treatment from Government hospitals.
The dependency on private hospitals was observed in all types of
treatments under Aarogyasri. The results from the study indicate
that patients prefer private hospitals due to availability of doctors,
nurses and other staff at times of requirement—even after office
hours; better maintenance of hospital in terms of cleanliness and
hygiene within the available space; friendly behaviour of the doctors,
nurses and other staff; better maintenance of medical equipment;
and promptness and responsibility of the staff and doctors in the
hospital. The hypothesis of an unholy alliance between the private
hospitals and the health workers, as they are the facilitators at the
ground level, in guiding the patients is rejected.

Status of Cashless Transactions for Treatment


The average pre-authorization amount for treatment for all the
diseases taken together is Rs. 34788 in private hospitals and Rs.
28983 in government hospitals. This shows that the cost of treatment
is Rs. 5805 more in private hospitals than that of the public hospitals.
Though the government is explicit that the treatment under Aarogyasri
is cashless, it is inevitable to bear certain costs over and above the
claim amount. The average Out of Pocket Expenditure (OOPE)
incurred by the patients is Rs. 4626 which is about 15 percent of the
claim amount. This expenditure is mostly related to the attendant’s
expenditure towards transport, local stay, food and any other
treatment procedures and medicines for their general problems not
covered under the scheme. This shows that the OOPE is relatively low
in case of Aarogyasri, compared to the other Government schemes.
196 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Current Role of Public Hospitals and their Future Prospects


It was observed from the study that the public hospitals at the
grass-root level (PHCs and CHCs) are not equipped with lab facilities
even to conduct small tests like sugar, hemoglobin content, x-ray for
lung infections, etc. So the patients have to depend on private labs,
even if they want to consult a government doctor. Hence, the patients
prefer to approach a private doctor as all facilities are available at
one place and they can undergo all the tests without wasting any
time. The other disadvantage for consulting government doctors is
that they are available at the hospital only during office hours, if the
doctor is not engaged with any other Government work, or leave.
The utmost concern of the public hospitals is the implementation
of national programmes such as family planning, control of
communicable diseases, vaccination of children, etc. They are not
so concerned about the general health problems.

Social, Economic and Medical Impact of the Scheme


It was observed from the study that poorest of the poor within the
broad category of the poor are more exposed to burdens of ill health.
Further, it was observed from the study that the family income of
the beneficiaries of Aarogyasri is less than Rs. 50000 per annum
in 88 percent cases, of which 46 percent have income less than less
than Rs 25000 per annum. Among these families, the expenditure
on general health problems is also relatively high. Though
Aarogyasri provides the poor social as well as emotional protection
from indebtedness for listed diseases, they are not concerned about
various others. The Public hospitals in metropolitan cities have now
become overcrowded with patients having common ailments, due to
lack of proper treatment in the primary and secondary hospitals at
the district level. This shows that the government is not allocating
adequate budget for primary and secondary hospitals at the district
level for the larger interest of the poor due to paucity of budget for
critical care and the implementation of Aarogyasri for the larger
benefit of the private sector.

Conclusion
The results emerging from the study indicate that Government-
sponsored critical care with private partnership is not a rational
choice due to under (un) utilization of the public sector. The focus
on tertiary healthcare to the exclusion of all other forms of medical
Reflections on Consumer Protection 197

assistance leads to an inefficient medical care model with a low level


of real impact on meeting the needs of healthcare and the health of
the population as observed by Rajan Shukla et al. (2011, EPW, p.1) is
appropriate in this context . There is need to regenerate commitment
and responsibility in dealing with critical care through public sector
on priority basis. Otherwise, it is difficult to monitor the private
sector against the unscrupulous practices of profit generation at the
cost of government budget and it would be difficult to get tertiary
care on sustainable basis for the poor at affordable prices. Thus,
more protection is needed to cover the genuine poor in progressive
terms for all the diseases.
198 Reflections on Consumer Protection

10
Development and
Assessment of Technical
Back Up for Consumers of
Textiles and Household
Durables

Neelam Grewal

Introduction
Consumers are the largest economic group that has an impact
on almost every public and private economic decision. They are
playing a pivotal role in the health of economy of country but face
many problems while shopping like spiraling pricing, substandard
and counterfeit products, adulteration, short measuring, misleading
guarantee/warranty, luring sale/discount offers, poor after sale
service etc. So it has become difficult for consumers to make
judicious choices and many times they fall prey to manufacturers/
retailers marketing mal-practices. Though government has set up
a well-defined mechanism and protection laws for consumers’
welfare, yet they continue to be cheated and victimized every day.
The problems of obtaining quality goods are on the rise in the
case of prepackaged commodities which cannot be inspected before
buying. Some companies/manufacturers producing quality goods
are going in for standardization and quality assurance marks such as
ISI, ISO, Agmark, Ecomark, Woolmark, etc. to safeguard consumers'
“Rights to Safety”. But a parallel line of such manufacturers is
also flourishing, who resort to imitation, duplicacy and fake marks
resembling the genuine ones, thereby cheating millions of ignorant
gullible consumers. Majority of Indian consumers are ignorant and
do not know the role of consumption viz-a-viz economic system.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 199

The entire marketing operation is aimed at profit maximization at


the expanse of consumers. Malpractices like adulteration, short
weights and measures, high prices, false and deceitful practices,
and packaging are pervading the market even when Government
of India claims to have passed maximum legal laws protecting
consumers than any other country in the world.
Though government has passed several Acts and laws to protect
consumers and seek redressal of their grievances but the consumers
are simply ignorant of these due to their unorganized nature,
lack of awareness regarding malpractices, lack of education and
inaccessibility of the machinery for setting consumer grievances.
Laws are not popular because they are framed in such highly
technical terminologies that it would not be possible to comprehend
by a layman.
There is a dire need to educate the consumers regarding business
malpractices, to enable them to recognize the genuine goods and
standardization marks and make them aware of their rights and
responsibilities so as to safeguard them from evils of exploitation.
This would lead to firm foundation for improving the economy
at a micro and macro level. Thus, there is a strong need to study
the reasons for such state of affairs and to access the magnitude
of problem of malpractices in rural/urban markets, so that suitable
strategies can be formulated for protecting consumers. Therefore,
the current investigation was undertaken.

Objectives
• To gain an insight into the common business malpractices
prevailing in the market with respect to textiles goods and
household durables.
• To study the existing buying practices of consumers related to
these goods.
• To develop and administer an intervention package containing
technical back-up to empower consumers.

Methodology
The methodology adopted for conducting the research is
categorized under the following subheads:
1. Market survey
200 Reflections on Consumer Protection

2. Household survey to study of consumer oriented practices of the


respondents.
3. Development and administration of intervention package.
4. Impact assessment of intervention.
5. Analysis of data.

Market Survey
A market survey was undertaken to gain an insight into the
prevailing frauds and business malpractices pertaining to household
textiles and durables. The tool used for the purpose included an
inventory. The information, thus obtained, has been supplemented
by observations of the researchers. The inventory was divided into
three parts: -
• Part I and II included questions related to textile goods and
readymade garments in terms of quality, care labels and marking,
malpractices carried out by the retailers and sale practices and
sales promotion techniques adopted by them.
• Part III include questions related to household durables in terms
of product specifications, pricing, sales promotion schemes,
quality of the product, guarantee/warranty, bill and installment
buying and other services provided.

Sampling Procedure
Purpose random sampling technique was adopted for selecting a
sample for the survey. Shops pertaining to textiles (running yardage),
readymade garments and household durables were purposively
selected to gain an insight into the common business malpractices
and frauds carried out by the retailers. Ludhiana and Moga districts
were purposively selected for conducting the investigation
In total 3 markets were surveyed from Ludhiana because it is
a city nearing metropolitan status, with a large number of markets
catering to enormous population. From Moga and other towns, the
main market which was the only choice has been taken. Five shops
each of textile running yardage, readymade garments and household
durables were surveyed from the selected markets. Thus, the total
number of shops surveyed were 150, comprising of 60 shops from
the two cities and 90 shops from the towns selected for the study.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 201

Pre Testing and Data Collection


Before the actual market survey, the inventory was tested in
a market of Ludhiana, visiting the textile and readymade garment
retail shops and the stores selling various household durables.
Accordingly, certain modifications were made in the inventory to
gain maximum information regarding the business malpractices
and frauds.

Household Survey to Study Consumer Oriented Buying Practices

Development of Research Instrument


An interview schedule was prepared to get first-hand
information from the consumers about their buying practices and
their awareness regarding the frauds and malpractices going on in
the markets pertaining to textile goods and household durable. The
interview schedule was divided into four parts:
• General information regarding the consumer;
• Questions related to purchase of household durables;
• Questions related to purchase of textile goods;
• Questions related to consumer awareness;
Sampling Design
Purposive sampling technique followed for selecting the
respondents, keeping in view that their literacy level was between
senior secondary to graduation. They had enough disposable income
to buy consumer goods / durables and were themselves involved in
making purchases of the items included in the present study.

Sample Size
As mentioned earlier, Ludhiana and Moga districts were selected
for the study. Three towns and four villages from each district were
identified to select 30 respondents from each city, town and village.
A total of 480 respondents were interviewed.

Pre-testing of research instrument


The interview schedule was pre-tested before using it for
actual data collection. Pre-testing was conducted using 15 non-
sample persons in non-sampled area to determine its suitability
for achieving the objectives. Accordingly, certain relevant changes
202 Reflections on Consumer Protection

were made in the schedule to get the valid responses and eliminate
ambiguity.

Development of Intervention Package


Before developing the intervention package in the form of
Consumer Education Training Programme, the needs of the
respondents were assessed on the basis of data generated through
market and household surveys. Based on the results of these,
the intervention needs of the respondents were assessed: on
wise buying practices for textiles and electronic gadget used in
households; Defective weights/measures; Counterfeit products;
clone Standardization marks; and Consumer Rights and Act.

Development of Technical Backup Booklets


Three booklets, covering the above mentioned aspects were
developed as technical backup after referring to the relevant
literature. One of the booklets pertained to textiles where as another
dealt with the selected household equipments. The contents of the
third booklet were related to the Consumer Rights and Act. All
these were written using non-technical, easy to comprehend Punjabi
Language.

Development of Demonstration Kit


A demonstration kit on the above mentioned aspects was
developed for imparting knowledge to the respondents selected
for intervention. The demonstration kit included booklet, selected
counterfeit products, specimens of clone standardization marks and
duplicate labels, standardized measuring tape, meter and textile and
electronic items both fake and original.

Administration of the Intervention Package

Formulation of small group for the intervention


All the selected respondents were requested to assemble at
a common place for giving intervention. The respondents were
appraised of the need and importance of consumer awareness,
wise buying practices, consumer rights and responsibility. After
a thorough appraisal, they were activated to formulate groups for
consumer education action programme. Only those respondents,
who were willing to participate in activities related to consumer
Reflections on Consumer Protection 203

awareness, were selected for giving intervention. One group of 15


members from each location was formulated. Thus, the number of
respondents who were selected for the purpose was 150.

Execution of intervention programme


Execution of intervention programme was carried out with the
help of lecture -cum-demonstrations followed by group discussions.
The pre and post exposure test was developed to find out the
effectiveness of training to promote consumer awareness.

Impact Assessment of the intervention package


The major impact of the administered intervention package
was assessed through gain in knowledge and changes in the attitude
and practices of the respondents. A test inventory was developed to
conduct pre and post exposure tests of the respondents to assess the
efficacy of the intervention programme.

Preparation of VCD
A VCD containing a Punjabi skit on consumer empowerment was
prepared. It covered most of the aspects of consumer empowerment
that have been dealt within the technical backup booklets and the
intervention package. This VCD was shown to rural families during
Kisan Melas, Regional Kisan Meals and various trainings organized
by the Departments of Clothing and Textiles, Family Resources
Management and the Home Science personnel working at 19 Krishi
Vigyan Kendras in the state of Punjab to empower consumers.

Analysis of Data
The data collected during the two surveys was coded and
tabulated. The coded data was used to form appropriate tables
according to the specific objectives of the investigation. The impact
of intervention was also assessed to study the significant change in
the pre and post exposure tests scores of the respondents on the test
inventory.

Major Findings

Market Survey of Malpractices


• None of the 150 retailers surveyed in 2 cities and 6 towns of
204 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Ludhiana and Moga districts of Punjab stocked fabrics having


labels that gave information regarding shrinkage and colour
fastness.
• More than half of the retailers followed the practice of “no
return no exchange” even if the goods were defective.
• Sixty five percent of the total retailers of textile materials
refused to provide the bill/cash memo with full details.
• Acrylic garments were sold as pure wool by 56.0 percent of
the retailers and 32.0 percent of them stocked garments with
counterfeit wool mark.
• Nearly half (46.0 percent) of the retailers of readymade garments
lured the customers through sales and free gifts.
• Further forty two percent of the retailers refused to give the bill,
the percentage was more in towns than cities.
• Thirty eight percent of the retailers gave the bill that had the line
“Goods once sold will not be taken back” typed at the bottom of
the bill. This practice was more common in cities than towns.
• Twelve percent of the total retailers charged taxes in addition
to the displayed MRP. This was more common in cities than
towns.
• Malpractices in retail of selected household durables clearly
showed a city/town divide. The results revealed that in the
case of household durables, brand imitation and misleading
information regarding standardisation of equipment were more
prevalent in towns as compared to cities.
• Brand imitation was less in the case of major electrical appliances
such as refrigerator, washing machine, television, whereas fifty
percent of the retailers in towns were found selling fake and
fraudulent products like electric bulbs, irons, electric fans and
mixer grinders. Some of these were being marketed under well-
known brand names though the particular companies are not
into manufacturing of these products. The percentage of such
retailers was only 15.0 percent in cities.
• All the retailers in cities sold household durables with genuine
standardization marks. However, in towns only 85.00 percent of
the retailers sold genuine goods.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 205

• The facility of after sale service for major appliances was


provided by only 34.0 percent of the total retailers. The list
of service centres was provided to the customer by only 36.0
percent of the retailers.
• All the retailers of branded household durables provided
guarantee/ warranty cards and almost all the cards had clarity
of language. Only 73.6 percent of the total retailers properly
signed the guarantee/warranty card.
• Seventy two percent of the total retailers provided bill only for
major electronic products like television, refrigerator, washing
machine etc.

Household Survey on Purchase Practices and Awareness of Con-


sumer Respondents’ Purchase Practices related to Textile Goods
• Less than 60.0 percent of total respondents (n=480) surveyed
visited two or three shops to conduct pre-purchase survey
before making the actual purchase of textile goods. Nearly 1/4th
of respondents purchased textile goods from one fixed shop
while the remaining 15.0 percent visited many shops before
actual purchase.
• Retail stores and wholesalers were the most preferred purchase
points for textile goods.
• Both urban as well as rural respondents preferred to check
quality of fabric by touch. Majority of respondents ignored
checking of labels and testing of colour fastness.

Problems Experienced by Respondents while Purchasing Textile


Goods
• Majority of respondents reported the problem of overcharging,
followed by poor quality, short measuring, poor printing and
finishing.
• Major technical problems faced by the respondents with regard
to selection of fabrics in a descending order were lack of
knowledge for assessment of fabric durability (38.74 percent),
fibre content (34.37 percent) and uneven fabric thickness (32.70
percent).

Respondents’ Purchase Practices related to Household Durables


• A larger percentage of urban (60.00 percent) and rural (43.75
206 Reflections on Consumer Protection

percent) respondents made price/quality comparison before


actual purchase but shopping time decision and information
search about brand, quality, price and performance of a product
to be purchased were accorded least priority by the respondents.
• Search for a particular brand of a product was mostly undertaken
by a large number of rural respondents (58.32 percent), whereas
majority of urban respondents (57.07 percent) looked critically
for the quality, followed by brand 52.91 percent.
• More than half of urban respondents attached importance to
guarantee/warranty and durability of the product. About 1/3rd of
urban respondents (34.16 percent) also looked for standardization
marks of the product being purchased, whereas 24.99 percent of
the rural respondents looked for standardization marks.
• Only a few rural as well as urban respondents considered
availability of spare parts, after sale services, additional new
features and wattage/voltage requirements for the equipment
being purchased.

Problems Experienced by Respondents while Making Purchase of


Household Durables
• The problem of overcharging was highlighted by majority
of rural (44.15 percent) as well as urban respondents (59.57
percent), followed by poor quality. Nearly 1/4th of rural and
urban respondents reported the problem of poor after sale
service.
• Both urban (47.49 percent) as well as rural respondents (31.66
percent) perceived guarantee/ warranty at first place as a right
of replacement and servicing of a product. Majority of rural
(63.75 percent) and urban respondents (87.08 percent) had a
positive attitude towards guarantee/warranty.

Consumer Awareness
• Only 33.74 percent respondents were aware of the care labels
while 51.24 percent of the urban respondents were aware of the
brand labels.
• Awareness regarding certified labels was more among urban
respondents. The foremost reason for checking the labels was
to compare prices of the textile goods.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 207

• Majority of rural respondents (61.66 percent) were able to


distinguish between fake and original ISI mark where as 56.24
percent urban respondents could recognize the original lSI
mark.
• Only (12.50 percent) urban and 4.17 percent rural respondents
approached consumer forums for seeking redressal of their
grievances. This shows that inspite of the safety measures,
consumers are not getting any benefit because of their ignorance.
So, consumer education should be given top priority especially
in rural areas.
• An intervention package was developed which contained
information regarding wise buying practices, fakes and
fraudulent practices prevalent in the market, consumer rights,
Acts and fora for redressal of their grievances. This package had
a statistically significant impact on improving the awareness of
the consumers regarding the topics dealt with.

Recommendations

For protecting consumers against market frauds


• Display of rate list of goods and products in showroom, which is
mandatory for retailers, need to be enforced strictly.
• The information regarding the specifications about equipment
should be displayed legibly and prominently at a place on the
equipment where it can be conveniently seen/read.
• Detailed information about the material used for construction of
equipment e.g. gauge, quality, finish given should be provided
in addition to other specification of machine and additional
features. Similarly, for textiles, quality of yarn, content of
different yarns should be mentioned on the labels.
• In the case of seconds products both in the textiles and the
durables segment, the word SECONDS should be written
clearly and prominently so that the consumers are not duped by
the price difference only.
• Provisions, terms and conditions of guarantee/warranty of
each equipment should be made available with the dealers to
enable the consumers to make a comparison of the terms and
conditions of different brands of specific equipment, comparison
of different products.
208 Reflections on Consumer Protection

• In order to make a guarantee/warranty card more comprehensive,


reliable and authentic documents, terms, and conditions of
guarantee/warranty should be simplified. Further, it should be
made available in Hindi and other local languages as well. To
create awareness among consumers about guarantee/warranty
card, it should be made obligatory for the dealers to help the
consumers by explaining the terms and conditions of guarantee/
warranty at the time of purchase.
• For proper utilization of guarantee/warranty, consumer should
be properly educated about the failure occurring due to their
negligence and mishandling during the stipulated period.
• Date of manufacture should also be printed prominently on the
textile goods and household durables to ensure the delivery of
fresh stocks to the consumers.
• Availability of spare parts should be ensured with the dealer/
service centre by the manufacturer until the expected average
life of equipment.

For Creating Consumer Education and Awareness


• A Consumer Guidance Cell should be formed in each city, where
experts should guide people how and where to seek redressal
for their complaints related to different goods and services.
• There is a greater need to involve youth/women in consumer
movement. Consumer activists should also organize rallies
for creating awareness regarding wise purchase practices and
strengthening consumer movement.
• Agencies related to formulation of product standards should
whole heartedly publicize their standardization marks,
sensitizing the consumer regarding the original marks and
fakes that are deceptively similar to the originals. They should
also organize frequent seminars, exhibitions, and distribute
literature among consumers for creating awareness regarding
original and fake quality marks.
• Consumers should be made aware of the product ranges of
household durables made by various leading companies so that
they are not duped through the sale of duplicate products.
• There should be interaction between consumer activists and
educationists. School/college teachers should be trained and
Reflections on Consumer Protection 209

educated from time to time to make them well equipped to update


their knowledge regarding latest addition and amendments in
consumer related issues.
• Training courses should be organized in the rural areas to create
awareness among consumers.
• Time and frequency for Radio and T.V. Programmes related to
consumers’ issues should be increased. Private TV channels and
FM radios should also be roped into telecasting/broadcasting
consumer empowerment programmes.
• Non-government consumer organizations should play a
proactive role in spearheading the consumer awareness
movement. Consumer clubs should be established at the
community level where these do not exist.
• Depending on the number of pending complaints and area of
jurisdiction of the commission, additional fora, more number of
full time officials/staff and resources should be made available
by the government. This will help in quicker redressal of
consumer grievances so as to instill a sense of confidence and
faith among the consumers in the redressal mechanism.
• Volunteer from bar associations should also come forward
for creating awareness about existing consumer rights/Laws
and help removing any apprehensions and misconceptions.
They should also provide free legal assistance for redressing
consumers’ complaints as a part of their social obligation.

Conclusion
From the results of present research study it is concluded
that sale of substandard, counterfeit equipment and textiles is
rampant in small towns and villages of Punjab. The poor villagers
are practically fleeced and looted as they do not have sufficient
knowledge about wise buying practices, standardization marks
and consumer protection services. Majority of rural people rely on
shopkeepers while making purchases and are subjected to cheating/
exploitation. Both urban and rural consumers are at receiving
end and at the mercy of suppliers of goods in the market. This is
not solely because of manufacturers and marketers, but more so
because of their own lack of awareness regarding the rights and
responsibilities as consumers.
210 Reflections on Consumer Protection

It is quite disappointing to note that less than 10 percent of total


respondents utilized the services of consumer forums for seeking
redressal of their grievances. So to educate consumers and bridge
the gap between availability and utilization of consumer protection
services offered by the government, an intervention package was
developed and administered among selected respondents which had
significant impact on consumer behaviour and knowledge.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 211

11
Designing a Structural
Model for Measurement of
Service Quality in Railways
and Hospitals with special
reference to Tamil Nadu
and Kerala States

S. Rajaram

Introduction
In order to survive in the business environment today, most
research places emphasis on service quality. Service quality is defined
as foundation of a comparison between customers’ expectations
and perceived performance of service providers. Customers’
expectations are defined as what customers want or desire, based on
their antecedent experiences with the firm. Customer expectations
compared with actual service performance results in the assessment
of quality that customers obtain from particular service providers.
The research analyses the inconsistency between customers’
expectations and their perceived service (performance) in specific
service like Hospitals and Railways.
The dimensions of service quality are tangibility, reliability,
responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. Outstanding service
quality can lead to favourable behavioural intentions, which may
result in improved customer retention (Zeithaml et al., 1996). By
analyzing information about a customer’s tenure, company is able
to forecast customer duration and whether the customer is likely
to stay loyal to the company or not. Customer retention could help
a company to increase its profitability and revenues as well as it
generates referred customers in the future.
212 Reflections on Consumer Protection

India is a land of diverse culture, and railways play a key role


in meeting the transport needs of the country, but also in binding
together dispersed areas and promoting national integration.
Railways, being the more energy efficient mode of transport, are
ideally suited for movement of bulk commodities and for long
distance travel. As compared to road transport, railways have a
number of intrinsic advantages. Railways are five to six times
more energy efficient, four times more efficient in land use and
significantly superior from the standpoints of environment impact
and safety. Indian railways, therefore, rightly occupy place of pride
in the growth and development of the nation.
Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the
world’s second largest under a single management. Spreading over
the country’s vast geographical area, Indian railways is a multi-
gauge, multi-traction system covering over 1 lakh track km. It runs
some 11,000 trains every day, including 7,000 passenger trains. The
passenger traffic has increased from 1.28 to 4.2 billion in last 40
years, making Indian Railways (IR) a leading passenger carrying
railway in the world. This has placed a difficult task on the passenger
to choose the best route for his journey from many alternatives.
While choosing a hospital, it is not always wise to simply go the
closest facility or to assume that the biggest is the best one in your
area. For the best possible results, you need to select a hospital that’s
best suited to your particular needs. All hospitals have strengths and
weaknesses. The type of illness must be considered before choosing
a hospital. Some hospitals are known for specializing in certain
areas. On one hand, hospitals typically have the most experienced
doctors training the interns.
The overall reputation of the hospital is asking family and
friends about personal experiences. That provides the most direct
insight into the quality of care received. In addition to this logical
research, many people are able to feel in their gut, if they are in
an unsafe hospital. Recovering from minor and major illnesses
alike takes considerable internal strength. Feeling comfortable
in a hospital may help speed up your recovery. Patient choice,
particularly the choice of hospital, has been at the heart of health
policy for a number of years. The aim of this policy is to create
competition, which in turn drives improvements in quality; for this
to work effectively, patients have to make their choices on the basis
of clinical quality.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 213

Design of the Study


The services marketing literature indicates that there is a
significant difference between goods and services as to merit.
Looking at that, the question arises whether generalization based
on products can be applied to services. These differences between
products and services give rise to the question whether the
normative relationship exists among service quality, satisfaction,
repurchase behaviour and loyalty as graphically depicted in figure
1. The domain of study is defined to be service industry.
Figure figure 1: A Strategic Model
1: A Strategic Model of Customer Loyalty Loyalty
of Customer

High High Repeat Customer


Quality Satisfaction Purchase Loyalty

Statement of Problem
Statement
Various of Problem
research studies have shown wide gap between the customer expectation and perception with the
management and they
Various research are continuously increasinghave
studies trend in shown
the service wide
sectors likegap Railways
betweenand Hospital.
the
Many railway stations are in gross disrepair,
customer expectation and perception with the managementdirty, outdated and overcrowded, especially when compared
and
tothey
stationsare
in developed countries. sometimes
continuously increasingpassengerstrend are seenin on trains
the hanging
service out windows
sectors andlike
even
onRailways
the roof creating andsafety problems. The
Hospital. Many interiorrailway
of many train compartments
stations are are
in poorly
grossmaintained
disrepair, from
rust, dirt andoutdated
dirty, common wearand and tear. Given the politicalespecially
overcrowded, infighting, corruption
whenand compared
inefficiencies, it tois
understandable
stations in thatdeveloped
there are overcrowding,
countries. cleanliness and other maintenance
Sometimes passengers issues. Although
are seen accidents
on
such as derailment
trains hanging and collisions
out and are lesseven
common oninthe recentrooftimes, creating
many are run safety
over by trains, especially
problems.
inThe
crowdedinterior
areas. Indian Railways have accepted the fact
of many train compartments are poorly maintained that given the size of operations, eliminating
accidents
and inis anbad unrealistic
conditiongoal, anddue
at besttotheyrust,
can only dirtminimize
and the accident rate.wear
common Humanand error tear.
is the
primary
Given cause,the
leading to 83 percent
political of all train accidents
infighting, in India. and inefficiencies, it is
corruption
While accident rates are low
understandable – 0.55
that accidents
there areperovercrowding,
million train kilometre,cleanliness
the absolute number andof other
people
killed is high because ofissues.
maintenance the large number
Although of peopleaccidents
making use of the such network.
as While strengtheningand
derailment and
modernization
collisionsof railway are less infrastructure
common is in progress,
in recent much oftimes,
the network still usesare
many old signalling
run over and has
by
antiquated
trains,bridges. Lack of funds
especially in iscrowded
a major constraint
areas. for speedy
Indian modernization
Railways of thehasnetwork, which is
accepted
further
the hampered
fact that by given
diversion theof funds
sizemeantof for infrastructure toeliminating
operations, lower-prioritizedaccidents
purposes due tois
political compulsions. goal, and at best they can only minimize the accident
an unrealistic
Arate.
hospital,Human
in the modernerror sense,isisthe
an institution
primary for health
cause, care providing
leadingpatient to 83 treatment
percentby specialized
of all
staff and equipment,
train accidents and inoften, but not always providing for inpatient care or longerterm patient stays.
India.
Today, hospitals
Whileareaccidentusually funded by theare
rates publiclowsector,– by0.55healthaccidents
organizations per(for profit or non-profit),
million train
health insurance companies or charities, including by
kilometre, the absolute number of people killed is high because direct charitable donations. Health is wealth. The real
benefit of any wealth is realized by the society if
of the large number of people making use of the network. While only there is health. Hence, it is emphasized upon to
improve the health status of people at each level along with all the efforts to increase the income of the
country.
Accordingly, technological advances, improvement in the access to and utilization of health services in the
country are given due consideration in our health policies. In fact, India has built up a vast health
infrastructure and manpower. However, the extent of access to and utilization of health care services varied
substantially between states, regions and society. The variation with the service sectors’ Service Quality
214 Reflections on Consumer Protection

strengthening and modernization of railway infrastructure is in


progress, much of the network still uses old signalling and has
antiquated bridges. Lack of funds is a major constraint for speedy
modernization of the network, which is further hampered by
diversion of funds meant for infrastructure to lower-prioritized
purposes due to political compulsions.
A hospital, in the modern sense, is an institution for health care
providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment, and
often, but not always providing for inpatient care or longer term
patient stays. Today, hospitals are usually funded by the public
sector, by health organizations (for profit or non-profit), health
insurance companies or charities, including by direct charitable
donations. Health is wealth. The real benefit of any wealth is realized
by the society if only there is health. Hence, it is emphasized upon to
improve the health status of people at each level along with all the
efforts to increase the income of the country.
Accordingly, technological advances, improvement in the
access to and utilization of health services in the country are given
due consideration in our health policies. In fact, India has built up
a vast health infrastructure and manpower. However, the extent of
access to and utilization of health care services varied substantially
between states, regions and society. The variation with the service
sectors’ Service Quality Dimension’s (SQD’s) segment varies in
satisfying the customer. Due to this fact a comprehensive study is
required to study the customer behaviour and service quality offered
by the industries to their prospective customers.
The intangibility and associated distinctive characteristics
of services led to some problems which are somewhat unique to
services’ marketing. One of the major problems faced by the
service provider is to control quality and to offer a consistent
product (service) to the customers. A tangible product quality
can be technically and statistically specified and can be checked
for conformance with the specified standards before it reaches the
customer. The subject makes it imperative for the marketers to take
into cognizance the customer perceptions of service quality so that
the service package defined and planned by the marketers is close to
the one that is expected by the customer.
“In the context of services, consensus seems to be emerging on
Reflections on Consumer Protection 215

defining the value in terms of the consumers’ overall assessment of


the utility of a product based on perceptions of what is received for
what is given” (Zenithaml 1988). Service value takes into account
the benefits defined in terms of perceived quality and satisfaction as
well as the sacrifice made by the consumers. This conceptualization
is found to be superior in explaining the behavioural outcomes. The
purpose of the research was to address these concerns by focusing
and building upon the concept of service value through an empirical
investigation. The primary objective of research was to investigate
the relationships among service quality, consumer satisfaction
and casual ordering of these constructs in the determination of
behavioural intension of customers. This research was required
to evaluate perceived level and expectation (desired) level of the
customers towards the service rendered by Railways and Hospital
sector. This research re-affirms the sequence “Service quality”→
“Customer satisfaction” → “Customer loyalty” as best reflecting the
causality of relation between its constituent variables.
The consumers evaluate services by comparing their
expectations of what will happen during a service encounter with
their perceptions of the actual service received. Where service
encounter experiences are better than expected there is positive
disconfirmation and customers are satisfied. But where the
experience is worse than expected there is negative disconfirmation
and customers are dissatisfied. The difference between expected
service and perceived actual service is conceptualized as a gap. To
exceed the customer satisfaction service providers should aim to
close this gap between management and customer. The Gap Model
is used to identify the gap in the research work.
The four provider gaps can be identified as follows:
1. Not knowing what customers expect – the gap between customer
expectations of a service and the company understanding of
customer expectations.
2. Not selecting appropriate service designs/ standards – the gap
between the company understanding of customer expectations
and development of customer focused service designs.
3. Not delivering to service standards – the gap between
development of customer focused service designs and actual
service delivery by service providers.
216 Reflections on Consumer Protection

4. Not matching performance to promises – the gap between


service delivery and external communications to customers.
The four provider gaps are summed in gap five, which between
customer expectations of service and the perceived service actually
delivered.

Purpose of Research
Service quality is a considerable part of business, so it is
important to measure its effectiveness properly and correctly. This
study was conducted in selected states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The
purpose was to identify SQ dimension, which is the best predictor
of Overall Service Quality. The individual SQ factors that influence
customers’ quality perceptions as well as relative importance of
these influencing factors and weighting are the source of their service
quality perceptions. As a step towards increasing manageability of
service quality, research herein considers the efficiency of (1) service
quality dimensions and (2) expectation – perception gap analysis as
two techniques for operationalizing service quality so that it can be
better understood, specified, measured and finally improved. It is
important to note that most published works on quality have come
from practitioners’ sources and only recent interest from academic
researchers. In addition, most of the works by both practitioners
and academicians have concentrated on understanding “goods”
quality rather than “service” quality. The intent of this study was
to contribute to the development of a process to operationalize the
service quality constructs.
The research evaluates customer experience and performance
level in relation to the antecedents of behavioural loyalty.
Behavioural loyalty is evaluated in relation to customer loyalty,
willingness to pay more, non-switching to competitor and positive
response towards the problem response. Customer satisfaction is
evaluated in relation to the antecedents in the selected service sectors
performance and service quality. The research provides an empirical
evaluation of the relationships among the individual service quality
dimensions of service sectors performance, customer satisfaction
and behavioural loyalty. This research seeks to identify measures
that can be used in industries for the purpose of assessing customer
service effectiveness. This research is very useful for the decision
makers who will further improve services to their customers and
Reflections on Consumer Protection 217

gain competitive advantage. This research provides a brief review


of the relevant approaches that have been used for the measurement
of customer satisfaction.
As a whole, this research investigates antecedents of
behavioural loyalty. The research empirically investigates the direct
relationship among performance of the sector, customer satisfaction
and behavioural loyalty. It is important to understand the aspects
of business performance that persuade customers to become repeat
purchasers and to exhibit behavioural loyalty. The overall research
intent is to identify the antecedents and influences on behavioural
loyalty. The research includes development of a scale to measure the
Hospitals and Railways service sector performance in relation to the
aspects of experience by customers.

Objectives of the Research


This research was designed to contribute towards closing the
gaps in the literature on two distinct though interrelated areas a) the
cross-sectional applicability of the revised SERVQUAL metric, b)
the relationships among service quality, customer satisfaction and
customer loyalty at the level of dimensions. The research objectives
were:
1. To scrutinize the impact of demographic factors of customers
in railways and hospital with special reference to Tamil Nadu
and Kerala states.
2. To determine service gap between the perception and
expectation level of customers in railways and hospital.
3. To determine the relative importance of service quality
dimensions in the Hospital and Railways sector.
4. To determine the conceptual linkages among constructs of
satisfaction, service quality and behavioural intention.
5. To identify the mediating variable of service quality dimension
which leads to overall satisfaction of customers in railways and
hospital.
6. To examine the impact of service quality dimensions of service
sectors which influence overall service quality leading to
satisfaction and behavioural intention of customers.
218 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Research Question(s)
In particular, the impacts of service quality, customer satisfaction
were investigated to identify their effect on future behavioural
intention. This research addresses the following questions:
a. How to identify the impact of demographic variables on the
service quality measurement of RATER dimensions (Reliability,
Assurance, Tangible, Empathy and Responsiveness) in the
selected service sectors like Railways and Hospital?
b. How the service gap is determined among the perception and
expectation level of customers in the Hospital and Railways
sector?
c. Explain the relationship between customers’ evaluation of
overall service quality and discrepancies between customers’
perception?
d. Which of the service quality dimensions are the best predictors
of overall service quality in the Railways and Hospital sectors?
e. How the impact of behavioural intention towards service quality
dimensions and customer SAT (satisfaction) in the Hospitals
and Railways sectors can be determined?
f. How a structural service model can be designed for determining
the customer linkage between customer behaviour, service
quality and overall satisfaction of the customers in Hospital and
Railways sectors?

Research Design
An explanatory research design was used to answer the research
questions and to test the hypothesis in this study. The design
has examined the relationships among specific service industry
customers’ socio-demographic variables, customer perceptions
and expectations of service quality dimensions emphasizing the
customer retention which are examined by behavioural intention
of customers. Behavioural intention is measured using questions
from the Behavioral-Intention Battery developed by Zeithaml,
Parasuraman and Berry in 1996. Independent variables are
customers’ perceived service quality and expectations of service
providers.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 219

Quota Sampling Method for Hospital


The present study was designed with the cooperation of the
doctors and patients (customers) an initial evaluation of HOSPQUAL
instrument for hospital sector. It was also important that the
hospitals are of a reasonable size to provide a suitable number of
responses within the given time frame and the hospitals selected
each have a minimum of 15 to 20 beds with basic physical facilities
of hospital. Quota sampling approach was applied for collecting the
samples from the patients. Quota sampling is an approach whereby
the researcher selects a non-probability sampling technique in the
representative of population as a whole. Totally 750 patients were
selected and 926 subjects agreed to participate in resulting with a
response rate of 81 percent. Totally 850 HOSPQUAL questionnaires
were distributed for collecting the primary data from patients.

Purposive Sampling Method for Railways:


Purposive sampling approach was applied for collecting the
samples from the passengers. Totally 718 customers were selected
and 940 subjects agreed to participate in resulting with a response
rate of 76 percent. Totally 950 RAILQUAL questionnaires were
distributed for collecting the primary data from passengers.

Research Area
In the present study, the primary data was collected from
selected districts of Tamilnadu and Kerala states. From Tamil Nadu,
eleven largest districts out of 31 districts were selected; which were
Ariyalur, Chennai, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Dindigul,
Erode, Kanchipuram, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Thanjavur, Nilgiris,
Thoothukudi and Virudhnagar. In Kerala state, there are 14
districts. Out of which 5 districts were selected for the research
which were: Ernakulam, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Thrissur and
Thiruvananthapuram.

Findings

Customer Satisfaction Effect on Behavioural Intention in Hospital:


In Hospital, the effect of patients’ satisfaction on behavioural
intention dimensions like word-of-mouth, positive problem
response, willingness to pay more and not switching to competitor,
220 Reflections on Consumer Protection

were found to be significant. Although the joint effect of customer


satisfaction and word-of-mouth dimension are influenced by patients
getting treatment in hospitals, which is significant. This means
that customer satisfaction does not directly affect the retention
of customers (patients), but only through word-of-mouth. The
hypothesis that direction of the causal relationship between word-
of-mouth and behavioural intention of the patients is confirmed in
Hospital.

Customer Satisfaction Effect on Behavioural Intention in Railways:


In Railways, the effect of passengers’ satisfaction on
behavioural intention dimensions like word-of-mouth, positive
problem response, willingness to pay more and not switching to
competitor were found to be significant. Although the joint effect of
customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth dimension are influenced
in availing the train service by passengers, which is also significant.
This means that passenger satisfaction does not directly affect
their retention, but only through word-of-mouth. The hypothesis
that direction of causal relationship between word-of-mouth and
behavioural intention of the passengers is confirmed in Railways.
The model can be considered as accurately portraying
the relationships among service quality dimensions, customer
satisfaction and behavioural intention dimensions in the selected
service industry. The proposed service model for service industry
describes clearly the existence of an unbreakable chain of effects
that starts from the dimensions of service quality and leads to the
dimensions of behavioural intention. The whole construction is
built on service quality. The effect is through customer satisfaction,
serving as a mediating variable, is extended to the dimensions of
behavioural intention.
In the service model network relationships between variables
influence the future intentions of customers to recommend other
to purchase the products or services is very important. It is well
documented that word-of mouth is perhaps the most important
promotional vehicle in the services industry. Under these
considerations the model could serve as a system for directing
quality investments. They have the most positive effect on customer
satisfaction, on customer loyalty and especially on word-of-
mouth dimension. However, the service model should be used as
Reflections on Consumer Protection 221

a framework on which researchers and managers would attach


additional marketing variables for better understanding the process
which leads customers to be prepared to build long- term bonds
with their service providers.

Conclusion
The researcher has shown that the applicability of HOSPQUAL
/ RAILQUAL scale across the Hospital and Railways sector is still
open. This research re-affirmed the applicability of SERVQUAL
provided that the scale is appropriately customized. It also provided
additional knowledge on the dimensionality of the HOSPQUAL /
RAILQUAL metric. The research has confirmed previous research
findings on the causal relationships among service quality, customer
satisfaction and customer loyalty. Further, the study is appropriately
extended to examine these links at the level of service quality
dimensions on customer satisfaction and behavioural intention
dimensions.
The findings that all dimensions of service quality do not
equally influence customer satisfaction as a contribution to the
existing knowledge on the impact of service quality to customer
satisfaction. The causal relationship ‘customer satisfaction’
‘behavioural intention’ is also confirmed. The finding of this study
that word of mouth is an antecedent of behavioural loyalty and that
customer satisfaction have a direct effect on the latter, offers support
for comparable findings that appeared in the literature (Luarn and
Lin, 2003; Bandyopadhyay and Martell, 2007). This research is
built on previous findings on the relationships of service quality
with customer satisfaction and behavioural intention of customers.
It has examined these relationships under a new perspective that
associates the importance of service quality dimensions.
Further, this study associates the importance of service quality
dimensions with the strength of their relationships with customer
satisfaction. Hence, a wide variety of industries will be benefitted
by replication of this study. The conclusions from this study are
valuable on a number of accounts. The empirical study is taken
to explain service quality and customer satisfaction which are the
most important determinants for the service sectors. The study
produces important conclusions and challenges on long established
assumptions on the identity and homogeneity of domestic markets.
222 Reflections on Consumer Protection

The outcome of result indicated that customer perceptions


are not equal to their expectations. The output also indicated that
customers expect much in the way of outstanding service. The
research identified that service quality is a strong contributor,
where customer satisfaction is mediation leads to positive effect
on behavioural intention of customers. Both customer satisfaction
and service quality have a significant effect on influencing the
behavioural intention of customers, is also statistically proved in
this research.

References
1. Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman (1996). Testing the Factor Structure of
the Behavioral-Intentions Battery: An Empirical Study of the Australian
Banking Industry. ANZMAC 2002 Conference Proceedings, 2901-2907.
2. Zeithaml, VA, Berry, l.l. & Parasuraman, A. (1988). Communication and
Control processes in the delivery of service quality, Journal of Marketing,
52(2), 35-48.
3. Luarn, P. and Lin H-H. (2003). A customer loyalty model for e-service
context. Journal of Retailing, 82 (4), 367-377
4. Bandhpadhyay, S. & Martell, M. (2007). Does attitudinal loyalty
influence behavioural loyalty? A theoretical and empirical study. Journal
of Retailing and Consumer Services, 14, 35-44
Reflections on Consumer Protection 223

12
Working towards a
Conscious and Efficacious
Citizenry and Responsive
and Responsible State and
the Market: An Impact
Evaluation of the Consumer
Protection Act on the
Awareness and Attitudes of
the Consumers in Delhi

Rajvir Sharma

Introduction
Consumer and his interests have been attracting the attention of
the lawmakers, the administrators and the civil society institutions
all over the world in view of the increase in (a) the number and
variety of goods and services available; (b) size and complexity of
production; (c) the level of sophistication in marketing and selling
practices and in advertising apart from the reduction in personal
interaction between buyers and sellers. A number of laws were there
in the statute book of India having an implication for the protection of
consumer rights and interests like the Indian Contract Act, the Sale
of Goods Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act, the Agricultural Produce
(Grading and Marketing) Act, the Indian Standards Institutions
(Certification Marks) Act, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,
the Standards of Weights and Measures Act etc. The consumers
were, however, handicapped to get speedy justice as they could file
only civil suits under these laws, disposal of which took quite a long
time.
224 Reflections on Consumer Protection

India passed Consumer Protection Act in 1986 which was


amended in 1993 and 2002 to provide speedy and inexpensive
redressal of consumer’s grievances and provide protection against
his exploitation by the powerful market and un-empathetic
officialdom of the country. The Act provides for the safeguards
in the form of, among others, the Consumer Disputes Redressal
Commissions/Foras at the national, state and the district levels
to provide necessary relief to the consumers from the arbitrary
and arrogant treatment meted out to the consumers by the public
and private providers of goods and services in the modern age of
globalization characterized by higher rate of competition to grab
the market and reach the consumer. In the process, the consumer is
caught unaware and becomes a victim of wrong doings of the market
players and apathy of the public servants. The question that arises in
view of the laudable objectives of the Act is whether and how far has
this consumer’s charter been able to impact and shape the attitudes
and behaviour of all concerned-the consumer, the market and the
State. The consumers are quite often unsatisfied and discontented
on the questions of quality, quantity and the price. At the same time,
it has also been generally observed that the common man prefers
to suffer silently either because he feels helpless and inefficacious
in view of the general anti-consumer environment. He thinks that
nothing could be done to improve the state of affairs. A sense of
despondency is seen wide and deep in his person or it could be the
case of mere ignorance or lack of information about the institutions
established for redressal of consumer disputes/ complaints as well
as the procedures, practices, rules and regulations pertaining to the
protection of their rights as consumers.
In order to bring this movement out of the state of infancy, the
State is playing a determined role in generating consumer rights'
awareness in the public through different modes and means including
the involvement of schools, universities and colleges apart from
establishing a number of consumer grievance redressal mechanisms
at national, state and district levels. Pertinent question here, however,
is whether these institutions are satisfactorily functioning in terms
of its sittings, the disposal of cases in time, in providing consumer-
friendly environment inside the forum premises at district level, in
giving cost effective justice to the consumer. The study assumes
significance in view of the emerging global, social and economic
realities to know the place of the consumer in the faceless market.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 225

Objectives of the Study


The project was undertaken with a view to evaluate and assess
the changes in the attitude and behaviour of consumer, market and
the state with the passage of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986,
i.e., whether the legislative and administrative efforts to safeguard
the interests of the consumers by protecting against exploitation by
the providers of goods and services in the public or private sector
proved to be productive, efficient and effective in realizing its goals.
Thus, the study aimed at:
1. assessing and evaluating the levels of awareness among the
respondent consumers about their rights with a view to know
the extent of consciousness and responsibility of the citizenry
to defend their rights by filing complaints against the defaulters
so as to instill a sense of accountability and responsiveness in
the providers of goods and services;
2. understanding and analyzing the role of social and economic
status in building and sustaining knowledge, culture and
behaviour structure in the process of empowering the consumer;
3. making an effort to know the extent of awareness of the
consumers about law, redressal machinery and procedures of
action and solutions or the type of relief he/she could demand
from the forums against the opposite party for defects and
deficiencies.
4. knowing and analyzing the level of satisfaction of the
complainants about the speedy and inexpensive disposal of
their case/s and about their views on the reforms in the working
of the consumer forums at different levels; and
5. an attempt to suggest measures to improve awareness intensity
of the consumers and ways and means to improve the working
and performance of the consumer forums.
6. analysis of the factors of dissatisfaction of the complainants
regarding the access and nature of delivery of justice to them.

Locus of Research
The study was first conceived for the whole of the national capital
territory of Delhi that was later delimited to the South and North-
West Districts of Delhi. Delhi and the specified areas therein were
226 Reflections on Consumer Protection

deliberately chosen for the purposes of study basically because Delhi


is perceived to be a centre of highly mobilised populace on social,
political and cultural scale; community interaction and interface of
people with the market and the state agencies is greater here. Media
plays an active role in opinion formation, awareness generation
and building consciousness and efficacy among the citizens. The
cumulative effect of all these factors, it was presumed, would be
more informed, participative and assertive citizenry to make full
use of the provisions of the CPA. At the same time the study was
confined to the South and the North-West Delhi to assess the levels
of awareness and use of the CPA by the rural and urban segments
and also to understand and analyse the level of difference/s, if any,
between the consumers of the two localities.

Research Methodology
The study was carried by employing survey method of research.
The selection of respondents was done on the basis of purposive
random sampling. The respondents were chosen from the targeted
groups from different social strata inclusive of the gender, income,
occupation, education and age. The respondents were divided, for
instance, into middle income group/class, low income category
from the unauthorized or rehabilitation colonies. Occupationally the
sample consisted of teachers, self-employed persons, and employees
in government and private organizations. It may be stated here
that the researcher first applied a pilot survey method to know the
feasibility of the acceptability and understanding of the questions
by the respondents. The pilot study was done on around 30 persons
of different categories and it was found that the medium of the
questionnaire has to be both English and Hindi. Moreover, the size
and nature of the questionnaire and questions were recast in view
of the experience in the field. Again, it was with great difficulty
150 complainants pursuing their cases in the District Consumer
Forums agreed to fill the questionnaire after assurance that the
questionnaire would not have any implications for their case. This
tendency of avoiding the filling up of questionnaires was reported
from the field also.
The total sample included 200 teachers from the government
and private schools, 200 self-employed persons mainly from the
vllages and the unauthorized colonies, 100 employed persons, 150
Reflections on Consumer Protection 227

complainants currently pursuing their complaints in the District


Consumer Forums, 150 selected from the two villages of Shikarpur
and Tikari Kalan along with 50 persons from the unauthorized /slum
areas of Sangam Vihar in the South and Mangolpuri and Shakurpur
in the North.

Major Findings and Recommendations


1. Level of awareness about the consumer rights, District
Consumer Forum and Consumer Protection Act is higher
among the teachers, employees and the self-employed in the
descending order.
2. Age is an important factor in awareness among the rural
population. The young respondents were found to be more
aware than the middle aged or old age persons.
3. Socio-economic background did not matter in relation to the
knowledge about standards marks like ISO, Hallmark or
AGMARK.
4. In the opinion of the majority of the respondents, the efforts
made by the government to generate awareness were not
adequate.
5. Education is linked with the level of awareness about the
District Forum and consumer rights.
6. Majority of those provided with defective goods or services
tend to get the matter resolved at the source of supply rather
than taking to the consumer forum or they tend to bear with;
that indicates greater degree of tolerance/patience. When the
researcher tried to know the reasons for such attitude of the
consumers, some did not answer while some said low cost of
the item, lack of time, cost of litigation being higher than cost of
the good purchased etc. influenced their decision of not taking
any action.
7. The level of awareness in the slum or resettlement areas was
more among the female (60 percent) than male (47 percent) about
the consumer forums and vast majority of the respondents got
this information through the radio/TV (71.4 percent of males
and 75 percent of females said so). In the case of knowledge
about the District Consumer Forum, the level of information
among the women was zero while 30.43 percent male were
228 Reflections on Consumer Protection

aware about their District Courts or Forums.


8. Income is seen as an influential factor in the determination of
the level of awareness in the rural areas. However, the level
of awareness even among the teachers and the employed was
found to be low in general in two villages.
9. The responses to the question of replacement of the defective
good by the supplier show that the market is more responsive
to the young, male, MIG, teachers and graduates and post
graduates and least in case of low income and service category
and middle aged persons.
10. 100 percent high income, 40 percent low income, 75 percent
employed and 16.6 percent self-employed complainants think
consumer forum to be the right place to approach for the
protection of consumer interests.
11. Study shows that 50 percent young, 25 percent middle age,
38.46 percent male, 50 percent low income engaged lawyer to
present their case before the forum while 100 percent of the
MIG, HIG, women, teachers, 83.3 percent post graduates and
80 percent employed presented their case by self. These figures
indicate that the CPA has been successful in creating some
impact on the attitudes of the complainants to contest their
cases themselves in order to make use of the arrangements for
inexpensive justice for consumers.
12. The level of complainants’ satisfaction with the attitudes and
decision of the consumer forums was found to be low among
the youth (20 percent), the male (45 percent), low educated
(25 percent of those who belonged to the secondary education
category), self-employed and the employed (50 percent each).
13. The time limit prescribed under the CPA is hardly observed
and the cases remain pending for period between 6 months to
many years. The complainants said that it was so because of
the procedures involved in the hearing of the case or because
of the non-presence of the judicial member of the forum.
Resultantly the consumer feels frustrated or at times forced
to leave pursuing the case because of long time and financial
cost of such delays. It is also shown in the responses of the
complainants that the forums do not observe the punctuality in
starting the proceedings of the forum in time.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 229

14. Observatory data of the researcher as well as the responses of


the complainants found a lack of human resources and physical
infrastructure at the premises. Therefore, lack of proper record
keeping and proper and timely service of information and
summons to the party against which complaint was filed was a
feature, rather than an exception.
15. The role of the advocates in Consumer Forum makes it like any
other court of the country. It also shows that advanced age acts
as a taboo on contesting the case by oneself. It can be further
noted that more of the high income respondents engage lawyer.

One may conclude from the analysis of data that-


• Teachers were comparatively more conscious of their rights as
consumers followed by the employed and the self-employed in
that order.
• The self-employed preferred to ignore the anti-consumer
behaviour of the trader/s more than the employed or the teachers
instead of taking action against them.
• There seems to be a prevailing sense of responsibility and
responsiveness in the business and trade toward the consumer.
This is so because they might be afraid of adverse publicity
against them by the aggrieved persons, if their complaint is not
properly redressed. This could finally impact their business or
trade in the age of competition.
• There also seems to be relationship of trust between the buyer
and the seller because 66.6 percent teachers, 43.47 percent self-
employed and 58.33 percent employed went to the shopkeeper
with their complaint against adulteration and received positive
response of the business to that in the face of his legal and
commercial interests. The trader knows, perhaps that the
consumer has become more aware and, hence more assertive,
of his rights. The growing recognition on the part of the trade
and business of this emerging change is, therefore, becoming
a tool of enforcing market accountability in terms of supply of
goods and services in the correct quantity and quality.
It may further be added that following measures needed to be
taken to make consumer protection movement more effective:
1. It is imperative to enhance the level of awareness not only about
230 Reflections on Consumer Protection

the consumer rights on a bigger scale but also the place and
procedure of grievance redressal.
2. It is needed that the number of members in the forum be raised
or should be fixed after the review of the average complaints
being filed in the respective forum in a year. Moreover, the
forum should come prepared and thorough with the cases to be
heard by them on a particular day.
3. The procedure needs to be made more simple and accessible
to the consumer/complainant. The physical facilities and
manpower need to be strengthened for faster disposal of cases
and consumer friendly environment.
4. The role of educational institute like schools/colleges receiving
funds from govt. sources should be regularly monitored and
evaluated to assess the impact of the programme.
5. It would be desirable to examine the feasibility of banning
the legal practice by the advocates in the consumer forums,
especially at the district level. Presently, lawyer is engaged
because the complainant is generally unaware of the legal
issues involved, preparation of the complaint and the affidavit.
Besides, the references to the judicial precedents relevant to the
case are required to win the case which the litigant is not aware
about. This further necessitates the employment of an advocate.
6. There is a need to restrict the number of adjournments to
provide speedy justice to the complainant.
7. If the case is listed for final arguments, attendance of the
members, except emergency, could be made mandatory at such
stages to avoid delays in the final decision of the cases.
8. It is necessary to provide sufficient, competent and committed
staff as well as adequate physical infrastructure at the District
Forums.
9. Since consumer education is a very significant part of consumer
rights and their protection, it is required to strengthen the
consumer awareness programme further by involving and
monitoring the NGOs and the media on a larger scale in the
dissemination of consumer education. It is also necessary to
impart consumer education at the senior secondary level and
in the colleges regularly by setting aside at least 10-15 hours in
Reflections on Consumer Protection 231

a year to tell about CPA, the machinery and the procedure of


filing complaints, the organizations and services covered under
the CPA and the information about the local consumer forum
in whose jurisdiction the school or the college or the university
department is located. This will go a long way in enhancing
the levels of knowledge, confidence and efficacy of the young
citizens as a consumer. Further, the organizations like NSS and
the NCC could also be used to take the consumer awareness
forward.
10. The location of the district consumer forum should be decided
by keeping in mind the easy visibility and accessibility to the
consumer. The jurisdiction of the district forum should be
decided to include the residence of the consumer and not the
location of the opposite party.
11. More consumer advisory and mediation centers should be set
up with the involvement and training of the Resident Welfare
Associations (RWAs) and NGOs as well as the municipal ward
committees. Municipal leaders should be also given training in
consumer rights and consumer protection.
12. There should be set up local area consumer groups/ Associations
consisting of the office bearers of the RWAs, the Traders/
Market Associations, the local municipal councillor/s, the
local MLA and other eminent persons of the area which could
become instruments of dissemination of information/ consumer
education.
13. Each district consumer forum should be provided with a
counsellor/ guide to help the needy or illiterate consumer
complainant coming to the forum. This would help obviate
the need to engage a lawyer and would also spread consumer
literacy and competence and efficacy in a long run.
To sum up, it can be stated that despite the growing impact
on the levels of awareness and activism of consumer in the city of
Delhi, there is growing evidence of exploitation of the consumer by
the corporate world. The concept of consumer is King or sovereign
could be put into reality only by way of consumer empowerment.
For this to happen, the government, the consumer organizations,
the consumer himself and elected representatives together have to
play a collaborative and collective role. The citizens of Delhi are
232 Reflections on Consumer Protection

acquiring activist behaviour and attitudes which is reflected in the


positive response of the sellers to their complaints in many cases, yet
it still remains that many of the consumers feel cheated on account
of breach of assurances or contract on the part of the market. It is
equally true, however, that the consumer is not quite happy with
the working and performance of the consumer disputes redressal
machinery at the district level.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 233

13
Medicine Quality: Do the
Brand Matters?

Banhi Chakarborty

Introduction
India’s pharmaceutical market is ensuing with a bright future.
As per MCkensy’s report (Kumra, Palash Mitra, Chandrika
Pasricha, 2012) India’s market by 2015 will grow to US $ 20 billion
occupying a place within 10 top pharmaceutical markets. It was
also forecasted that therapy mix will continue to grow together
with anti-infective and gastro-intestinal drugs and these together
will cover 50 percent of the total market by 2015. Such a market
situation raises hopes in common people who thinks that India is
progressing where availability of medicine will not be a problem.
However, researches conducted to the contrary, indicate that market
flourishing was not considered as enough guarantors for ensuring
availability to the common consumer. Nevertheless, market ensures
enough availability only for those who have affordability (Tripathy
et al, 2004). The real situation, if compared with other countries,
India’s health expenditure arrived as the lowest one among all the
OECD countries. As per OECD report 2012, it was 4.1 percent of
GDP (calculated based on per capita purchasing power parity) of the
country in 2010 against approximately 9.5 percent for other OECD
countries in the same year. Even it is lesser than Sri Lanka, China
and Thailand (Economic Bureau, 2012). The consequences of low
expenditure by India has further been reflected on the lower life
expectance (64.8 years) than that of other OECD countries (79.8
years).
It was observed that in the absence of sufficient investment from
public sources, people need to pay nearly two-thirds of expenditure
from their own pocket (OOP) on health (2004-05), while, however,
234 Reflections on Consumer Protection

it is not uniform all over the country. A clear cut division exists,
which was 62 and 32 percent in case of rural and urban people
respectively during 2004-5 (National Health Accounts, 2009). The
quintile distribution, as per economic slabs further shows that out-
of-pocket expenditure tends to rise with the economic position both
in rural and urban areas of India (Garg and Karan, 2008; NHA
India, 2009), and differences varied over the states ranging from
2 percent to 7 percent. In terms of accessibility to health facilities,
combining both public and private centres, it is 80 percent of the
population, of which only 20-25 percent availed public health
facilities (TNMC, 2011); while in Tamil Nadu, which is said to be the
best service provider state in terms of medical facilities including
drug distribution, it is only 40 percent. However, in the Twelfth
Plan, inter-alia, one of the visions is to enhance the availability of
and accessibility to drugs through increased affordability. Hence,
it is targeted to raise the figure at 52 percent for all the states with
the help of National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) and National
Rural Heath Mission (NRHM) under the holistic approach of
National Health Mission 2005, including hitherto those outside the
accessibility zone (Planning Commission, 2012). It is irony that
in-spite of Government’s commitment to provide adequate health
care through NHM 2005 (MOHFW, 2007) weaknesses exist in the
system itself both for rural and urban areas. Provisioning of care
through medical intervention team, targeting for interventions on
all serious diseases, primary infrastructure facilities are some of the
major strategies of NHM (MOHFW 2011), but adequacy in disease
remedial medicines, was somehow not considered as one of the
core responsibilities. This, indeed, weakens the goal of the overall
programme in reality. Severity of the problem due to high OOP is
understood to have implications on furthering poverty that instigate
the health complications and morbidity pattern more in perpetuity.
India’s fast growth pace of the pharmaceutical industry
accompanied with rising prices of medicines have not eased out
the accessibility for common people, and has created a situation
of contradictions. Considering this situation, Government’s policy
options for health sector, so far taken up, apparently appear as
inadequate in tackling all the related segments in holistic manner.
To understand the implications of such contradictory situation
and it’s consequence on the availability, it appears relevant to deal
Reflections on Consumer Protection 235

with the intricacies involved in the distribution system of medicines


in general and price-related inhibitor that incapacitate the common
people from buying the essential one.
In fact, to reveal the complicacies, it is essential to explore the
Indian pharmaceutical sector in relation to its distributional network
in particular, that has been altered significantly with the growth of
pharmaceutical industry of the country since the initiation of liberal
market regime.
The basic purpose, has, therefore, been targeted to find out
the causes responsible for such mismatch between the production
growth and availability constraint, which, however, appear as a
matter of intricacies involving all related sectors, viz. the industry
and market linkages, product specialization and dimension of
the market and distribution chain and government policies and
governance. Keeping this in view, the present study was undertaken
with the aim to-explore the background situation of inaccessibility
in the light of growth intricacies of pharmaceutical industry and
related issues involved in the market mechanism; examination of
the inter-relationships between brand and related price variations;
evaluation of quality associated claim in brand-related price
phenomenon.

Analysis of Background Situation

I. Industry and Market Linkages


A Industrial Structure: Pharmaceutical industry has an
integral relation with its market. In fact, in all economies, industries
have market-dependent production function while for drug it is the
absolute determinant of the markets. Like other commodities, for
drugs there lies no option from the consumers’ sides. Therefore, this
market is supply-side dominated and industries are free to decide
product varieties not withstanding with epidemiological conditions
always. However, it’s initial growth was mainly based on demand-
determined products where country’s disease pattern was the main
point of decision. India, in fact was self-sufficient in producing
almost in all segments of drugs including antibiotics. Even the
unorganised sector could contribute about 35 percent of the total
production (GOI, Annual Report 2011). The history of process
patent and government protection policies for indigenous industries
236 Reflections on Consumer Protection

were some of the major factors for the growth of self-sufficiency of


the country.
The pharmaceutical industry is by and large divided into
both large and small scale sectors. Production of formulations
and bulk drugs-the two major components, are almost segmented
according to scale of the industry. In case of bulk drugs mostly
small scale units were involved which, in fact, contributed largely
in the development of pharmaceutical industries in India leading to
fifth position in the world bulk drug market. Now there are nearly
10,563 manufacturing units producing both bulk drugs or active
pharmaceutical ingredients or API and intermediates together with
formulations. In fact these units are the major supplier of basic raw
materials for the large scale formulation industries. Bulk drug is an
active constituent with medicinal properties, which acts as basic raw
material for formulations. Formulations are specific dosage form of
a bulk drug or a combination of bulk drugs. Drugs are sold as syrups,
injections, tablets and capsules. Among these, 77.4 percent (8174)
manufacturing units are involved with the production of bulk drugs
while 22.6 percent (2389) or are producing formulations of all types.
The two segments of produces, however, are indirectly controlled
by two different associations viz. Organisation of Pharmaceutical
Producers Association of India (OPPI) representing international
and large manufacturers while Indian Drug Manufacturers’
Association (IDMA) play vital role in the development of the
industry. Price control, patents and Trade Marks Laws, Quality and
Good manufacturing Practices (GMP), Research and Development
(R & D) and Exports are the major issues handled by IDMA.
B. Production and Marketing Strategies: The production
and distribution of drugs in the markets are directly related with
the industries’ operational manner and market outlook. Although,
Government of India is providing constant support to units
under Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) through different
incentives but growth of small-scale industries are constrained
by production limitation only on four products- Niacinamide,
Pyrazolones, Lanolinanhydrous and Potassium Citrate (industrial
grade)-(Department of Chemicals & Petrochemical, Government
of India, 2007) while the key players are exempted from such
restriction. The key manufacturing houses though are few only
but occupy the major share of the market e.g. Ranbaxy, Cipla,
Reflections on Consumer Protection 237

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Lupin, Nicolas Piramal, Aurobindo


Pharma, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, Sun Pharma, Wockhardt Ltd.
and Aventis Pharma. Since last decades, acquisition of a number of
small firms by the larger one and merging of Indian manufacturing
house with MNCs like Glaco Smith Kline (GSK) Baxter, Aventis,
Pfizer, Novartis, Wyeth, Merck and others (Greene W, 2007) are
constantly contributing in the production of generics as major share
in the pharmaceutical markets. Expiry of patented-drugs in US
firms and increasing approval of FDA have supported the growth
of prescription drugs by $ 45 billion and $ 25 billion respectively
in generic markets of USA and Europe during 2007-08 (KPMG,
2006).
At present country produces nearly 400 APIs and is one of
the top five API producing countries (Greene, William, 2007).
Nevertheless, such spurt in production also has enabled the industry
as a whole to export about two-thirds of its formulations while in
bulk drugs it came around one-fourth (Ken Research Pvt. Ltd.,
2012).
C. Growth of Industry and Export : Growth of Indian pharma
on its own soils as well as in other countries through merging has
led to revenue generation to a larger extent ever before. The total
size of the market has reached to rupees 100, 000 crore (Planning
Commission 2012). Such growth has enabled the country to spread
her dominance through export growth to major developed markets
of the world. USA, Germany, Russia, UK and China are the major
destinations. However, such export is mainly due to formulations
while the pharmaceutical intermediates, bulk drugs occupy much
smaller shares. But a substantial portion of total export is composed
of quality drugs which are being shipped to rich nations at affordable
prices (Selvaraj et al, 2011). In addition to this, another potential
market for Indian generics for which a trade pact has already
been signed between two countries under a Special Scheme for
Registration of Generic Medicinal Products from India in May 2010
(ASA & Associates, 2012).
Further examination for a fifteen years stretch (1995-2010) on
the market sales on bulk drugs reveals that substantial portion of
the total sales are also meant for export than for domestic market
(BDMA, 2011). Greater alliance was made possible because of
allowance of automatic route for FDI (PwC, 2011). The share of
238 Reflections on Consumer Protection

individual performance in export sales of big pharma companies


varies between 92 percent to 51 percent during the year 2010-2011
(DGCIS, Industry Overview 2012).
The increase in size of Indian exports to different destination
countries is mainly due to rising ANDAS that helped in greater
number of approvals for Indian companies like Ranbaxy, Dr. Reddy’s
Lab, Aurobinda, Glenmark and Lupin. According to Danzon (2011),
one of the basic reasons behind the market alliances between large
and small firms or merger and acquisition is the economics of
scale of the larger firms that ease out the facilities for research and
development (R & D). In terms of production in volume, the top 20
countries’ contribution by the end of March, 2012 was US $ 17.4
billion where Ranbaxy alone reported Rs. 99,769 million or US $
2,145 million or 33 percent up to the end of 2011 end. Eighteen more
companies have reported improved sales in 2012 than that of 2010-11
(Report Linker, 2013). The same report also noted that prospects of
pharmaceutical industry in India is bleak to earn sufficient revenue
from domestic market and hence, the focus towards export market is
likely to be more preferable by the industries. Except the sudden fall
in export market during 2010 as well as in domestic market in 2009,
the performances of industries are slightly fluctuating.
D. Import Growth: It is ironical that India which was once
self-sufficient in bulk-drug processing, now needs to import also.
India’s import of bulk drugs and intermediates has surpassed the
export growth (CAGR 17 percent) during the same period (DGCIS,
Industry Overview, 2012). However, India being one of the largest
generic producer, overseas pharmaceutical markets found it
advantageous for collaboration or merging. In addition, pressure
from developed nations for quality drugs was one of the reasons
that MNCs ventured on Indian soil for acquisition and merger. The
major volume of inexpensive import of formulations is also owing
to liberal opening up of Indian market to MNCs (Joseph Alexander,
2013). In fact they are the major consumers of such imported bulk
drugs for the interest of exporting the quality drugs to rich nations
at affordable prices.
However, further analysis reveals that inspite of increase in
domestic as well as export markets, contribution towards research
and development has not been increased significantly by pharma
companies. The share of Research and Development over this
Reflections on Consumer Protection 239

period increased only from 1.34 percent to 4.50 percent and from
0.77 percent to 4.01 percent respectively for domestic and foreign
companies operating in India. On the contrary if the growth rate in
fixed assets and share in R & D are compared, the performance of
the foreign firms show much steady trend over the years than those
of the domestic companies, although domestic firms having much
greater fluctuations over the years, but could achieve much higher
values than the earlier one (Figure 1 & 2 ).
Fig. 1: Growth of Figure.
Fixed Assets & Share of
Figure. 11
Growth of R
Fixed& D Expenditure
Assets & Share of R :&Domestic
D Companies
Expenditure
Growth of Fixed Assets & Share of R & D Expenditure :: Domestic
DomesticCompanies
Companies

Growth of
Growth ofFixed
Fixed
Assets of
Assets ofDomestic
Domestic
Companies
Companies
% Share
Share of
ofRR&D
&D
Expenditure
Expenditureof
of
Domestic
DomesticCompanies
Companies

Source
Source
Source :: Bulk
Bulk
: Bulk Drug
Drug ManufacturersAssociation
Drug Association(India),
Manufacturers
Manufacturers (India), 2011.
2011.
Association (India), 2011.
Fig. 2: Growth ofFigure.
Fixed22Assets & Share of
Figure.
R &
Growth of Fixed D Expenditure
Assets & Share of R:&Foreign Companies
D Expenditure : Foreign Companies
Growth of Fixed Assets & Share of R & D Expenditure : Foreign Companies

Growth of Fixed
GrowthofofForeign
Assets Fixed
Assets of Foreign
Companies
Companies
% Share of R &D
% Share of Rof&D
Expenditure
Expenditure
Foreign of
Companies
Foreign Companies

Source : Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association (India),


Source : Bulk
Source DrugDrug
: Bulk Manufacturers Association Association
Manufacturers (India), (India),
E. Distributional Factors: Distribution of drugs is basically a function of a complex
E. Distributional
E.system
Distributional
Factors:ofDistribution of drugs isof basically
operatedFactors: Distribution
as the tools drugs
for market is basically a function
occupancy(demand) which lies a complex
on the
a function of a complex system operated as the tools for market
system operated
discretion as the toolscompanies
of pharmaceutical for marketasoccupancy(demand)
well as also on thewhich lies market
external on the
occupancy (demand) which lies on the discretion of pharmaceutical
discretion
demand. ofBecause
pharmaceutical companies
of huge external as well
demand as also medicines
for generic on the external
compiledmarket
with
companies as well as on the external market demand. Because of
demand. Because of huge external demand for generic medicines compiled
very insignificant internal demand creation by the medical practitioners within with
huge external demand for generic medicines coupled with very
very insignificant
country, internal
the possibility demand creation
of considerations by the epidemiological
for country’s medical practitioners within
conditions in
insignificant internal demand creation by the medical practitioners
targeting
country, thethe production
possibility towards genericfor
of considerations medicines
country’satepidemiological
affordable prices appear inin
conditions
targeting the production towards generic medicines at affordable prices appear in
204

204
240 Reflections on Consumer Protection

within country, the possibility of considerations for country’s


epidemiological conditions in targeting the production towards
generic medicines at affordable prices appear in general to be very
limited. Moreover, price manipulations have become one of the major
thrust by the industries, the advantage of which has been chosen by
product trimming. Product diversification, segmentation or choices
for specialized items are some of the alternative important criterion
in price changing/rising. In fact due to absence of strict vigil and
rules, manufacturers are free to produce any drug once approved
by the Drug Control authorities (DGCIS, 2011). Lack of sufficient
information on proportionate use of generic and branded medicines
in the domestic market, choices for costly branded alternatives
remain as highly possible alternatives. However, the research, so
far carried out in focusing the accessibility at affordable prices,
indirectly proves in that direction. However, at the same time the
constant rise in acquisition and merger by the MNCs also hold good
for major causes for price rise (Chowdhury S, 2011 & Chowdhury S,
2005). Perhaps such situation may be described as one of the older
conditions prevailed during British period that India now facing,
thereby proving that India’s pharmaceutical market as one of the
supply-dependent one instead of demand-oriented.
Further as a proof of supply-dominated drug market, the
report by PricewaterhouseCoopers can be noted where it was
reported that the markets in developing countries are too heavily
loaded with sales representatives. For example in China, about
new medicines promotion, three-fourth of information reach to
doctors through sales representatives and conferences organized
by manufacturing companies (PwC, 2011). The presence of several
medical representatives indicates introduction of several brands
for one specific drug and inter-brand competition leading to price
competitions. However, price competitions under the liberal market
regime undoubtedly go in favour of manufacturing houses where
quality is shown as yardstick of price-worthiness (Creese A, 2003).
Moreover, there is always a big pressure from the manufacturing
houses, especially those which are much bigger to capture the
markets of developing economies. Under such condition there lies
hardly any possibility that prices of medicines will be target group
(beneficiaries and epidemiological conditions) oriented. Since the
Indian market is open to global market after 1991 and granting of
Reflections on Consumer Protection 241

100 percent equity to foreign companies, price rise in medicines


was imminent to happen, and evidences in this respect have been
cited by many researchers (Garg & Karan, 2008; Selvaraj & Nabar,
2010; Saktivel S, 2010; Chakraborty B, 2012; Sengupta A et al.,
2009). However, the concerns have equally been raised on the
availability and accessibility of medicines for common consumers
because of brands related price variations (Das S.C; M. Mandal
and S.C. Mandal (2007), Correa C.M (1997), 26; Burdon P (2012);
Roy, Vandana et al. (2012). To reveal the intricacies, the pricing
procedure and the distribution-chain related issues are required to
be examined further.

Trade Focus and Pricing Procedure


National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) function in
keeping pace with pharmaceutical policy changes from time to time and
price determination while the pharmaceutical trade trends are directed
by manufacturing houses (both in domestic as well as international
market). Constant rise in outsourcing by foreign companies on Indian
soil together with rising tie-ins with domestic manufacturing houses
have made a considerable effect on reorganization of pharmaceutical
industry from withdrawing its focus from domestic needs to more
towards international trade. Major focus in reorganization is towards
production of drugs for non-communicable diseases deviating from
the earlier focus on communicable diseases (which are major needs of
tropical countries). Nevertheless, this has enhanced the exportability
and helped to occupy a major chunk of generic market at international
level, at the same time necessitated the building up of competent
marketing network. As an outcome of marketing reorganization,
Indian pharmaceutical industry has equipped them to release a number
of R & D scrutinized quality drugs in the domestic market among
a host of originally existing domestically produced drugs, already
prevailing in the market. However, such conditions initially helped in
the escalation of prices at a time which was altogether unseen before
1991. The transition, the Indian pharmaceutical market has seen, is
the switching over towards the drugs of supposedly “quality” brands
complying the R & D verification and gradual elimination of consumer
drugs for common people from the market. In fact, the ground of R
& D compliances have paved the industries to keep the prices of
their drugs at much higher level certainly with NPPA’s node in this
respect.
242 Reflections on Consumer Protection

It is the fact that pricing of consumer drugs depends on a


variety of factors including demand (created by prescribers’ choice),
availability, substitutions, as a whole the total market factors, which
however, appears to be constrained again due to emerging market
trends. Compelling situation as a whole made the availability of
drugs at reasonable prices more difficult for common people. Unlike
other commodities, drug pricing is determined by a centrally
appointed body under the authority of the Drug Controller General
of India (DCGI) or NPPA. DCGI function as the executive head
in association with Central Drugs Standard Control Organisations
(CDSCO) who look after the quality and efficacy in distribution for
the public.
III. Marketing Mechanism : Marketing strategies, however,
depend on a number of factors like geographical span, distribution
network and prices. Area of marketing is highly sensitive issue
which directly determines the level of competition for the
industries. The present trend of the market indicates that in many
cases, manufacturers may not always be the marketing agency.
It is found that market leaders in pharmaceutical trade are only
marketing houses, not producer but are the deciding authority on
prices. This is done in order to get cost-advantage. In addition, it is
to be noted that there are number of trade agents like Promotional
Distributors, Propaganda Distributors, Marketing approval or
marketing companies who actually propagate the pharma trade as a
whole (BCDA, 2011). In the absence of proper documentation in this
regard it is difficult to show the actual distribution and their extent
of coverage which, however, possibly influencing the distribution
of medicines. Scattered information so far available are such that
companies like Ranbaxy, GlaxoSmithKlin, Lupin, Uniqes, Nicholas
Piramal as market leaders and likewise many others, have their
contract outsourcing for some of their products.
However, marketing opportunity, guides the companies’
distributional strategies including geographical destination of
the product. Examples in this regard are Spark Medicine, whose
marketing jurisdiction is within North Bengal and further north.
Similarly, at the same time the bigger industries like GSK, Ranbaxy,
Lupin , Nicholas and many others having much wider market without
any geographical barrier, also have entered in negotiation with some
other smaller agencies for marketing.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 243

A. Stakeholders in Distribution System: The drug market is


one of the most complex and fragmented system – where roles of
a number of players are imbibed in. The flow chart depicted below
may depict the system’s complexity:
Figure 3

B. Role of different segments in the Distribution Chain


C & FA or Super-stockiest : Carrying & Forwarding Agencies or
Consignee and Forwarding Agencies (shortly speaking C & FA) who are
to disburse the drugs directly to the Distributors while the other one is the
Super-Distributor or Distributors who may have direct dealing with the
companies. Differences between the two is that C & FA are the company
appointed depots whose jurisdiction of operation is only within their state
whereas the distributors act as the independent points of distribution
having no geographical limit in spreading their business.
C & FA may have agency right of only one manufacturer or
may have multiple-agency rights. Usually market leaders connect
only one C & FA. Business return of C & FA varies between 1-1.5
percent on total turnover per year.
Distributors and Wholesalers: These groups are next to C &
FA in the hierarchy rank. Business margin is determined by the
manufacturing houses.
Retail Distribution: These segments are the direct connectors
with the consumers in the distribution chain.
(a) Profit margins differ from one point to other and it is maximum
at retailers’ shops-the end points.
244 Reflections on Consumer Protection

(b) The limit of profit margin exceeds the stipulated level as per
DPCO norm i.e. 10 percent and 20 percent respectively for
wholesalers and retailers for non-DPCO drugs.
(c) Huge differences exist between retail and tender prices as well
as between wholesaler and bulk-purchaser (as per documents
related to Price Structure submitted to BCDA for approval by
different Companies; Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation
(TNMSC) and CDMU, West Bengal. In addition, there is price
incentives for the retailers, which are usually offered by the
wholesalers a discount at the rate of 5 to 7 percent depending
on the level of competition in the wholesale market.
Analysing the situation of distribution system it appears that no
generalisation is possible as the states vary widely in procurement
decisions which further induces price variations. Although Drug
Price Control, act as sanctioning authority for release of medicines
in the market, the entry of medicines in the state depends on the
Carrier and Forwarding Agencies appointed by the manufacturing
houses mainly or super-stockists, selected by the companies.
Ultimate price the consumer pays, therefore, lay on a long and
complicated chain.

C. Price Equations in relation to Distribution System :


Maximum Retail Price or consumer’s price is determined prior
to release of the medicines through the above network. Products are
transferred from stockiest/distributor to sub-stockiest or wholesaler
and from stockiest or wholesaler to retailer and rates of margins
moves in inverse direction from higher order to lower order. The
stipulated price margins respectively are 16 percent and 8 percent
for Non-DPCO and DPCO drugs respectively where a substantial
amount of indirect margins are allowed at different levels in
between the release-price and maximum retail price (MRP)- the
consumer pays. Prices and margins are determined at national level
by NPPA, the authorized department at the Centre where the ceiling
prices or Maximum Allowable Post-Manufacturing Prices (MAPE)
are decided. Additional limits of leader prices are also determined
for formulations by NPPA based on most popular brands belonging
to category I (DPCO) and II(non-DPCO) which in principle is
cost-plus approach. Hence, MAPE or Maximum Allowable Post-
Reflections on Consumer Protection 245

manufacturing Expenses is pre-decided and added within MRP


providing a large margin for different stakeholders involved in the
total supply chain. MAPE is practically an extra-pharmacological
factor that is added with retail price to make the ultimate Maximum
Retail Price which, however, is the buying price for consumer. In
support of this Levison, L and R. Laing's article (2003) on “hidden
cost” can be quoted – “For the nine countries, studied the hidden costs
included: import tariffs; port charges; clearance fees; pre-shipment
inspections; pharmacy board fee; importer’s mark-ups; value added
tax (VAT); federal and state taxes; and wholesale and retail mark-
ups. While some of these rates are relatively low (for example, 1
percent for port charges), even 1 percent is significant on orders of
US$5 million. The impact of hidden costs is thus compounded one
and has a “carry on” effect. On an average, hidden costs increased
cost by 68.6 percent in the surveyed countries”. Not only this, authors
also pointed out how this hidden cost factor implicate the loss of net
savings. They also emphasised that calculation of hidden cost is not
a simple arithmetic but a complicated one depending on country’s
procurement policy, product selection and other issues. The case of
India has been cited as an example where 30-35 percent could be
saved during 1995 through adopting restricted procurement policy
(Chaudhury RR, 1999).
Large price variations that exist between brands around the
contrary, may have some solace if there was the possibility of
availing of alternative and cheaper substitute in the event of
inability to purchase highly-priced drugs. Moreover, people in
the drug market has no choice to select unless the prescription by
physicians demand so. It is the physicians who are the primary
promoter of drugs in the market and for whose preferences, brands
are established. The earlier study on the drug market (Chakraborty
B, 2011) clearly indicated that the medicines manufactured by
Mankind Pharma are least prescribed though, the company is
found as the producer of drugs of almost all therapeutic categories
and having lowest minimum of prices (little above the generics
available at Jana Oushoudhi–retail shops located at few tertiary
level hospital premises or directly from hospital pharmacies). But
irony is that this information is least known to common people.
As such no initiative has taken up yet to make the consumers
aware, though NPPA in a news report by Alexander Joseph, in on-
246 Reflections on Consumer Protection

line media publication (2013), declared that it will carry out the
awareness programmes.
The general perception regarding quality is still not clear
(Singhal, G. l et al, 2011). However, the policy approaches generally
rules the price factor as the deterministic criterion of quality only
and that too is based on leading manufacturers’ products’ prices.
On query it was known that some companies seek the strategies
of greater return through wider market coverage by maintaining
lower margin while some strategically concentrate in few products
of higher MRP specially those which are essential for certain acute
therapeutic segments having higher market return. Irrespective of
strategic differences, the prices of medicines in general are much
higher for which a significant portion of the total consumption
expenditure of the people goes out of their own pockets. Though
this is very common for almost all developing and poor countries,
India’s condition is nothing better. Meagre amount of public
expenditure (public share) is not more than 1 percent to total health
expenditure share of GDP which is much below in comparison
to other comparable countries (NHA, 2004-05) has no doubt
contributed in such impinging conditions.

Surmising the above facts, following issues emerged –


a) Procurement and distribution of drugs play an intricate role in
determining the prices;
b) Product trimming and selection is in the domain of
manufacturing houses where market domination is manipulated
through brand competition;
c) Unlike other consumables, drug market is not demand-driven
but supply-determined;
d) Maximum Retail Prices is the ultimate product of Markups or
MAPE which as an extra-pharmaceutical cost or hidden cost
and are applied for both products under ceiling prices and non-
ceiling prices- the differences might be variant;
e) Consumers of drug, hence, are not on the bargaining side, it is
the prescribers’ induced preferences;
f) Brand quality myth is used as the slogan for drug promotion
and market capturing;
Reflections on Consumer Protection 247

Therefore, overall implications as arise here, are that the


accessibility to required medicines for common people is imminent
to be constrained and determined through a much complex system
of marketing strategies of drug industries where Government
policies nonetheless are not less responsible.

Brand - Quality Relationship Assessment:


Based on the above understanding, further evaluation of quality
of the drugs with reference to price differences, is considered
essential. This part of the study was solely based on drug inventory
formation based on elected areas. Following is the methodology:
a) Area selection: The availability of drugs in the market is highly
prescription-sensitive. Therefore, the prescription biasness is
one of the major rules which govern the supply of drugs and
the preference patterns are again determined by the industrial
houses where the promotional capacity of industries played a
significant role.
b) Location-specific site selection: Particular attention has been
paid to have comparative information on prescribing pattern/
choice, for which the medical professionals at different ranks
and files from both Government-run hospitals and private
clinics were considered as the targeted objects for interviews.
c) Drug Selection: Collection of information on drug stock, pre-
formatted list with exhaustive number of brands of each of 8
therapeutic categories were used. For comparative differences in
prices, drugs were judicially selected from both controlled and
uncontrolled categories (category I and category II) covering
major therapeutic segments.
d) Drug inventory of Shops: Shops at different locations have been
taken as source areas. Considering the possibility of availability
of maximum number of drugs of different therapeutic
importance, the shops around Government hospitals were taken
as source areas as zone of highest influence intensity; while the
shops in different locations which house the practitioners for
private practice were also included as another source area. The
assumption here is that, medicines which are mainly available
in those shops are usually prescribed by the private practitioners
beside which other medicines are supposed to be least available.
248 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Drug inventory of the shops were further matched with the


information on drug preferences of the practitioners. However,
21 drugs from 8 therapeutic categories were finally selected for
detail analysis.
e) Data Analysis on :
1: Inter-brand and intra-brand distributional pattern of the
drugs in relation to locational variations and their price
variability based on simple statistical measures;
2: Quality evaluations based on testing of drugs of different
therapeutic importance.
Justification of the Approaches: Considering the importance
of above inter-related issues the work has been attempted through
investigations at micro level, scattered in different parts of West
Bengal. The areas are categorized according to their status in terms
of importance in health facilities. The basic assumptions behind
such categorical selection are – (i) major drugs have their own
selected catchment areas or market coverage and are usually spread
in hierarchical orders in relation to major city core market in usual
cases; (ii) which is particularly due to the industries’ promotional
policy related phenomenon and (iii) such particular mechanism
reinforcing the controls on the availability or unavailability through
developing market- medical professionals nexus.
Justification of area Selection : Hence, the case study areas
as selected were the Districts of West Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura,
considering that these districts having both secondary and primary
level health services and hence, possibility of getting drugs of both
reputed and less known brands exists. Siliguri in Darjeeling District,
being favourably situated in north of the state, and functioning
practically as gateway of entire North-eastern States and Nepal
also, the possibility of market occupancies are extended over a
large areas, hence, presence of multiple number of industries (both
major industries and low-profile industries exist there. Kolkata – as
Metropolis functioning with major tertiary health service centres,
is expected to have much greater market coverage. In fact, the city
having combinations of both Government-run tertiary hospitals
and private-run super-speciality hospitals, the possibility of most
common medicines (essential medicines with generic names, said
to be prescribed by State-run hospitals ) as well as most costly
Reflections on Consumer Protection 249

brands of market leaders are likely to be available. Moreover, all the


districts except the district Purulia, there are Medical Colleges-cum-
hospitals where the specialised treatment facilities exist. This also
acts as an advantage for the availability of different combinations of
drugs in the markets.

Results
Brand Variations and Price Relationship : In fact the top
selling brands which are very few in numbers but together covered
more than 60-80 percent of each market while there are few which
are very much scattered and concentrated in very few pockets only.
Moreover, in case of DPCO drugs in the anti-infective segment, the
costly brands are more prevalent than the other trade names of the
same group. Examples in this respect are Althrocin (Erythromycin),
Ciplox (Ciprofloxacin), Calaptin (Verapamil), Aceten (Captopril) all
belong to controlled group but are costlier than the other brands
in their groups. The manufacturers of these drugs respectively are
Alembic, Cipla, Nicholas Piramal and Wockhardt which are now
among the top-ranking pharmaceutical industries, having market
shares ranging between more than 5 percent to 18 percent or even
more. Examination of price-brand variations may help in justifying
the brand-price equation further.
Considering overall situation or aggregate of all areas it was
observed that almost, all the drug markets are flooded with a
number of brands which grossly vary in sizes in terms of their
market existence as well as in prices. In this respect prescribers’
preferences provide enough justification where for each brand,
preferences varied from minimum of 20 percent to more than 100
percent.
The covariance of inter-brand differences in availability and
related price differences, however, did not show any systematic
trend only except four drugs i.e. Ofloxacin, Cefotaxim, Ceftriaxone
and Livofloxacin among antibiotics and Atorvastatin of anti-
lipid drug where price variations were significantly higher than
their inter-brand variations in availability. At this juncture two
major issues emerged- (i) localization tendency of the companies
according to market openness in order to capture the new areas to
eke out maximum return and (ii) the sharp competitiveness among
the companies allowing only for few dominant brands to occupy the
250 Reflections on Consumer Protection

major share. Price competitiveness appears to be less significant in


influencing the brand entry thereby indicating serious implications
of brand monopolization by few industries only.
Hence, all these factors together further established the
earlier scholars’ observations and strongly prove the assumption
that the medicines not only are dearer for common people but the
cheaper alternative also are difficult to be accessed. However, huge
difference between retailers’ rate and MRP clearly confirm that the
actual prices of medicines are much lower than what the consumers’
price or MRP. Moreover, this also proves that the industries’ actual
cost of production is much lower and even after keeping their
reasonable margin, the medicines could be disposed at much lower
prices. Hence, it can be surmised that industries in the given polity,
are given undue advantage in over-charging their products.
Evaluations of Inter-brand Drug Quality Variations : Since
the study on quality assessment of drugs with reference to their
brand variations are still limited (Singhal et al, 2011), the present
study, therefore, attempted to examine the justifiability of quality-
brand equations through verification of quality of different brands
for each single drug formulations.
The methodology adopted for the purpose was as follows:
Quality Verifications of Different Drugs : To justify the
price-worthiness of the medicines, quality examination of drugs is
considered essential. To study this, 16 out of total 22 drugs were
selected for quality verification. Emphasis was given on selection of
brands under each drug category considering their intra-brand price
variation primarily. However, constraints in availability of each
sample from same batch number had posed problem in some cases
causing limitation in collecting all the drugs, selected primarily for
examination.
Sampling procedure: The test samples were procured from the
licensed authorized chemist shops from different areas under study.
The valid (purchase) invoices have been collected against all the
purchases. The sample size comprises 10 x 2 tablets for each brand of
medicine while for different drugs, uniformity in number of brands
could not be maintained as the emphasis to get more number of
brands under each category of drug was the objective to explore the
price-quality equation. However, constraints of market availability
Reflections on Consumer Protection 251

also added to the variations. The sample sizes for all the drugs varied
between 20 to 24, 20 being the minimum required quantity. The
size has to be kept minimum considering the budgetary constraints
(due permission of the testing centre was obtained) as the work
was part of a public funded sponsored project. The test was done
at M.S. Ramaiah Drugs and Allied Products Ltd., Bangalore- the
ISO accredited testing laboratory. Each sample consisting of two to
three/four strips (depending on the number of tablets in each strip)
were purchased having same batch number in order to rule out the
possibility of difference in assay. The test was carried out according
to the prescribed methods in the Indian Pharmacopoeia, 2010 as per
the standards laid down in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and
the Rules 1945.
Following tests were performed :

a) Uniformity of Weight: All the samples were tested for estimation


of uniformity of weight. For the coated tablets other than film-
coated tablets uniformity in weights is not applicable.

b) Disintegration Test: This test is done to estimate the variation


in time requirement for a tablet to break. Depending on the
tablet’s categories of coating, the time for disintegration varies
(standards on disintegration, Indian Pharmacopoeia 2010, vide
Appendix V). For film-coated tablets, the minimum stipulated
time allowed for the operation is 30 minutes while for the other
coated tablets, it is 60 minutes. For chewable and dispersible
tablets, the test is not applicable. The given samples do not
comprise any chewable or dispersible tablets.

c) Dissolution Test : The samples were subjected to dissolution


studies to evaluate their drug release pattern. These studies
were performed in the dissolution media through instrumental
analysis using HPLC (high Pressure Liquid Chromatography).

d) Assay Tests: These tests were done to confirm uniformity of


contents or Assay tests which means that whether each drug
have required amount of Active Ingredients or not.

Results
The results shows that all the medicines comply the required
252 Reflections on Consumer Protection

specific norm with ± 10 percent in all the assay tests while for
dissolution all the samples satisfy the standards having dissolution
values more than the required specific amounts.
The most significant observation in this regard is full compliance
of the generic variety, in some cases even, the result show much
higher values for the generic variety than the branded substitute
which determines comparative superiority of generic variety.
Examples in this regard are Erythromycin, Ciprofloxacin, Ofloxacin,
Atorvastatin, Pantoprazole and Metronidazole, Paracetamol which
inspite of their much lower prices proved to be much superior.
In explaining brand-price relationship, parity between price
variations in relation to brand variations though can be substantiated
but no significance in observations could be drawn because of
smaller size of the samples. However, as the performance of the
cheaper brands in all the tested drugs also show equally favourable
results, the price-worthiness claim of the higher-priced brands also
cannot be sustained. More striking is the examples of two brands
of Paracetamol - Crocin and Calpol, both are the product of Glaxo
Smith Kiln (GSK) and also comply the standards but differ in prices
by more than 13 percent from each other, Calpol which is produced
by GSK in it’s factory, is cheaper one while Crocin is outsourced to
Remidex Pharma Pvt. Ltd., is costlier one. This perhaps indicates the
cost recovery by the industries in general either through outsourcing
for marketing or for processing whichever comes cheaper.
Discussion: Based on the above observations it can be surmised
that price of medicines is no way a determinant in justifying the
quality rather it is the myth that is being utilized by the industries
in favour of their business interest. The study of this kind first
undertaken by Singal et al. 2011, who examined five pairs of drugs
comprising generic and branded varieties, is further justified by
these observed results here. However, the present study was little
ahead of the earlier scholar because of it’s inclusion of those drugs
prescribed by the doctors (based on patients’ survey and also the
propensity of market concentration by different pharmaceutical
companies in the selected case study areas).
Results obtained so far has enabled the study to focus certain
relevant issues for discussion.
(i) Huge inter-brand price differences ranging from more
than 50 percent to more than 100 percent respectively for
Reflections on Consumer Protection 253

different essential medicines like anti-infective antibiotics,


anti-hypertensive, anti-ulcer and cardiovascular drugs which
logically could not be established on scientific ground and
requires attention from all concerned.
(ii) Price variations in brands even in case of schedule drugs (under
control category) is another stark evidence against the lapses on
the Government machineries where inter-brand price variation
nullifies the existence of DPCO policy in totality.
(iii) This further suggests that the price fixation by the industries is
based on no scientific ground although industries are enjoying
price support by the government appointed agency NPPA
only. In fact according to Drug Price Control Order, pricing
of medicine is to be done depending on the active principle
ingredients (API) content and under this condition all the
DPCO approved medicines said to have DPCO 1995 norms
compliance which practically should consider all drugs made of
same molecule and are of equal qualities irrespective of brand
name differences, the price differences, hence, prove otherwise.
Instance in this respect is the price differences in Crocin and
Calpol, both being paracetamol, and are even produced by one
single company, GSK only. Therefore, prescribers’ biasness
indulging in monopolization by some pharmaceutical houses
in disguise of brand names cannot also stand as valid on this
ground.
(iv) But unfortunately retail outlets which are over-flown with
dozens of brands of same molecule promoted directly by
physicians and indirectly by companies’ promotion battalion
(MR) has made the situation worse for the patients who has no
scope for knowing about the cheaper version. In India retailers
are not also authorized to substitute with cheaper alternative.
Therefore, common tendency arises among the retailers to
gradual elimination of those brands from their stock which are
not promoted by the prescribers. This makes the situation of
inaccessibility by the patients or consumers worse.
Surmising the fact of quality compliances by all the drugs
(based on tested results) irrespective of their price differences,
Government may need to rethink and analyse the relevance of the
present procedure (notification) of price fixation based on the ceiling
254 Reflections on Consumer Protection

price as determined by the market leaders’ price which also are


subject to change from time to time. Under this notification, as the
formula laid down in paragraph 7 of the Official Gazette, the prices
are to be reviewed from time to time where the cost declared by the
leading manufacturers will be the ceiling price only within which all
manufacturers of the same formulation has to adhere this norm for
fixing their prices. As a consequence of this provision, any change
in ceiling price of the products from the leading manufacturers,
automatically there will be rise in prices by other manufacturers of
the same category of formulations.
(i) Notwithstanding the containment in the Order where it also
states that “Government may, if it considers necessary so to do
in public interest, after calling for such information by order
fix or revise the retail price of any formulation including a non-
schedule formulation” (Drugs Prices Control Order, 1995) ,
now the question arises how the Government will act to do so
disobeying it’s own Order as stated above which will harm the
leading manufacturers' interest.
Before adopting any corrective measures, some of the crucial
issues which have logical importance in underpinning the entire
system of drug delivery may need to be highlighted here –
• In the absence of any monitoring and regulatory agency
(issues related to the absence of regulatory body to examine all
inadequacies including the scarcity if scientifically controlled
testing centres, as were noted in the Mashelkar Committee and
are yet pending in action) and systematic documentation, there is
also no scope for procuring valid information pertaining to real
investment in R & D and hence, justifiability of the company’s
claim for R & D authentication of each product as well as their
related price fixation also does not hold good, unless product
-wise publications containing the results on successful trials
are published for common’s knowledge. Although India is now
one of the green field for major multinational or trans-national
pharmaceutical giants for carrying out production along with R
& D, clinical trials while associated outcomes and costs issues,
are placed to concerned Government body while submitting the
price list for their approval, how much comparable examinations
are done to authenticate the claim of superiority than those
Reflections on Consumer Protection 255

existing in the market already, which is yet to be ascertained


only except through prescribers' recommendation.
• Moreover, the efforts by the Government in promoting the
pharmaceutical industry in the name of interest for public
health by providing sufficient amount of reduction in taxes (as
endorsed by 2005 Drug Policy), thus presents a contradictory
situation. Moreover, validity of price-worthiness of any drug
based on the single criterion of R & D support also loses its
stand as most of the drugs in the markets are available for long
without having any change in combinations and are off-patent
now.
• The principle of Ceiling price fixation based on leaders’ price is
another crucial flaw in the Policy. No scientific reasoning stand
in validating the concept of leaders’ price as ceiling price for
drug, as the quality claim failed to prove so. Hence, DGCI and
NPPA must make it a concern before making further upward
revision in prices.
In the absence of generic named drugs in most of the
prescriptions, this is a simply indicator of violation of rule of
“Standard Treatment Guidelines” by doctors. Suggestions in this
regard already had been tabled by the Parliamentary Standing
Committee on Health and Family Welfare on 4th August, 2010 both
in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha which however is yet to be taken
up for implementation. However, considering the price pressure in
the International market especially in US, it is difficult for India
being one of the signatory of TRIPS to come out easily from that
pressure. Hence, the Government under this situation requires a
strong motivation like European economy where they could have
overcome price pressure to an extent by reorganizing domestic
economy already. For this there is a need for rational strategy
formulation.
Suggestive Measures for Consumer Welfare: The availability
of all the essential medicines at affordable prices including the
specialised kind of drugs for acute treatment also, Government
should adopt certain measures immediately which are –
a) Initiative to materialize the 45th Standing Committee
recommendations in addition to form monitoring body to start
effective vigilance in the matter related to availability and
256 Reflections on Consumer Protection

related price variations at all levels of government controlled


health facilities.
b) Adoption of stringent policy regarding writing of prescriptions
in generic names only, instance in this regard as can be cited
in the order delivered in one of the tertiary level hospital in
Calcutta (Order No. CNMCH/3401/50, dt.6.12.05 and Memo
No. H/TDE/1160/1411/2005, dt.14/11/05). Unfortunately effective
implementation is yet to be seen here (as evidenced in the
study).
c) If the former can be made mandatory, the onus will lie on the
trade to supply the medicines in generic names only. In case
of any violation, Government may promulgate the Drugs and
Cosmetics Act, 1940 (23 of 1940) and Rule framed there under

d) No manufacturer or distributor shall withhold from sale or
refuse to sell to a dealer any drug without good and sufficient
reasons;
e) At present there is provision for a purchaser to go for verification
of quality of any drug he/she purchased to a Government
analyst which is often denied. The provision as laid down in
the law under section 26 Drug and Cosmetic Act, 1940 where
a person individually or as a representative of any recognized
Consumer Association is authorized to obtain test or analysis
at any Government Testing laboratory, which unfortunately
is always denied. Following is the excerpts from the book on
Law of Drugs with Allied Acts along with Rules which state :
“any person or any recognized consumer association, whether
such person is a member of that association or not) shall, on
application in the prescribed manner and on payment of the
prescribed fee, be entitled to submit for test or analysis to a
Government Analyst any drug (cosmetic) purchased by him
and to receive a report of such test or analysis signed by the
Government Analyst”.
f) To make the system more executable there is a need to constitute
a monitoring body which should be constituted with a member
from authorized departments in the Government looking
after price and production, member from the Department of
Consumer Welfare, member from Health and Family Welfare
Reflections on Consumer Protection 257

and member from Social Welfare Department, member of


Rajyasabha and Loksabha and noted scientists and personality
of any voluntary organization.
g) Similar bodies should be formed to decentralize down to State,
district and Block level and if possible further down at Ward
or Gram Sabha levels. However, constitutional structure in the
body at local level may differ from place to place depending on
the social structure including that of the prevailing Local Self
Government.
h) The same group also needs to be trained in the task of
prescriptions auditing too.

Conclusions
In concluding, it may need to be emphasized that Government
must take initiative to relook at medicines as an integral issue related
to health. India’s low Human Development Index (HDI) which is
136 among 186 countries (UNDP, 2013) points towards overall
health insecurity only and rectification of the index in no way
possible to materialize unless the drug as the only disease-remedial
measure can be made easily available at reasonable cost. Major
flaws lies in Indian economic policy in dealing pharmaceutical
sector under industry and commerce while treating it with health
exclusively under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. As an
obvious reason of considering pharmaceutical production on
industrial approach, policies related to growth generating factors
for industrial production are obviously made equally applicable for
pharmaceutical production also. Hence, the present strategy of GDP
enhancing priority requires correction in policy shifting to health-
saving prioritisation instead.
Therefore, Government of India must make it a point, that
success of Million Development Goal i.e Health for All by 2000
AD which is still far away to achieve even in a slightest possible
manner if the sector concerned with drugs is not dealt separately
with due care for making it available and accessible within means of
common people. In fact, concern for rational drug policy is involved
with much larger perspective where complete medication is as
essential as to keep the country free from irreversible damages due
to spread of drug resistant bacteria. Recent incidences of malaria,
Chickungunia, Dengi/dengue and resistant variety of TB are the
258 Reflections on Consumer Protection

instances in this regard and is an alarm too for any catastrophe to


emerge.

References
1. Kumra, Goutam, Palash Mitra, Chandrika Pasricha (2011), India Pharma
2015 : Unlocking the Potential of the Indian Pharmaceuticals Market;
source : www.MCKensy Report india-pharma-2015.pdf, accessed on
10.04.13.
2. Tripathy Santanu, Dalia Dey, Abhijit Hazra (2004), Medicine Prices and
Affordability bin the State of West Bengal, India; source: www.haiweb.
org/medicineprices/Surveys/200412IW/survey_report.pdf; accessed on
25.04.13.
3. OECD Health Data (2012), How Does India Compare with OECD
Countries; source :www.oecd.org/health/BriefingNoteIndia2012.pdf,
accessed on 02.05.2013.
4. Rao, S.K., Selvaraj, S., Nagpal, S (2005), Financing of health in India,
Financing and Delivery of Health Care Services in India in National
Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, Ministry of Health &
Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi.
5. Economic Bureau (2012), Healthcare spend to Rise, The Indian Express,
source :www.indianexpress.com/news/healthcare-spend-to-rise-to-2.5-
of-gdp//918380/.., 10.06.2013.
6. Government of India (2009), National Health Account, India 2004-05;
National Health Accounts Cell, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
(In collaboration with WHO India Country Office); source : http://
planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/health/National_Health_
Account_04_05.pdf., accessed on 04.0.2013
7. Garg, C Charu and Karan, K Anup (2009), Reducing Out-Of-Pocket
Expenditures to reduce poverty : a disaggregated analysis at rural-urban
and state level in India in Health Policy and Planning 24: 116–28; Journal
of Health Management, Volume 12 (3): 399, SAGE – Sep, 2010.
8. Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, correspondence based
information, dt. 20.01.2012.
9. Planning Commission : Report of the Working Group on Drugs & Food
Regulation for the 12th Five Year Plan, Working Group 4, source : www.
planningcommission.nic.in/.../committee/workgrp12/health/wg-4drugs.
pdf., accessed on 8.05.2013.
10. Government of India (2012), Report of the Working Group on Drugs &
Food Regulation for the 12th Five Year Plan, Working Group 4; source
: www.planningcommission.nic.in/...committee/Workgr12/health/wg-
4drugs.pdf., accessed on 08.05.2013.
11. Govt. of India (2011), Annual Report to the People on Health, Ministry of
Reflections on Consumer Protection 259

Health and Family Welfare, December 2011; source: www.mohfw.nic.in/


WriteReadData/18920/690144509Annual%Report%20to%20%the%20
People%20on%20Health.pdf,accessed on 25.4.2013.
12. Greene Williams (2007), The Emergence of Indias Pharmaceutical
Industry and Implications for the U.s Generic Drug Market, U.S
International Trade Commission, Washington DC-20436, USA; No.
2007-05-A.
13. Government of India (2011), First Pharmaceutical Census of India,
Annual Report 2011; Department of Pharmaceutical & Chemicals; source
: www.pharmaceuticals.gov.in/Annual Report 1011/ch 9. pdf., accessed on
14.05.2013.
14. KPMG International (2006), The Indian Pharmaceutical Industry:
Collaboration for Growth; source : www.kpmg.com/in/en/issuesndinsights/
a r t icle s pu bl ic a io n s / p a ge s /t h e i n d i a n ph a r m a c e u t ic a l i n d u s t r y-
collaborationforgrowth.aspx,accessed on 04.05.2013.
15. Ken Research Pvt. Ltd (2012), Research and Markets; source: www.
researchandmarkets.com/reports/2078282/indian_generics_20082012-
the-growing_threat_to, accessed on 30.04.2013).
16. Government of India (2012), Report of the Working Group on Drugs &
Food Regulation for the 12th Five Year Plan, Working Group 4; source
: www.planningcommission.nic.in/... /committee/…/WG_4 drugs.pdf.,
accessed on 08.05.2013.
17. ASA & associates (2012), A Brief Report on Pharmaceutical Industry
in India, source : www.asa.in/pdf/surveys_reports/Pharmaceutical_
industry_in_India.pdf., accessed on 18.02.2013.
18. Selvaraj S, Habib Hasan, P. Kumar & M. Chokshi (2011), Access to
Medicines in India : Setting Priorities in Policy Research Issues; Public
Health Foundation of India, India; source : www.who.int/alliance../
alliancehpsr_settingprioritiesindia_selvaraj.pdf, accessed on 14.04.2013.
19. BDMA (2011), www.bdmai.org, accessed on 04.04.2013.
20. PriceWaterCooper (2011), www.pwc.in/assets/pdfs/pharma/OPPI_
report_final-print_version.pdf, accessed on 30.04.2013.
21. Planning Commission of India (2011), High Level Expert Group Report on
Universal Health Coverage for India; source : www.planningcommission.
nic.in/reports/genrep/rep_uhc0812.pdf., accessed on 05.05.2013.
22. DGCIS (2012), Industry Overview; Directorate General of Commercial
Intelligence & Statistics, Kolkata.
23. Danzon, M Patricia (2011), Economics of the Pharmaceutical Industry,
National Bureau of Economic Research, source :http://nber.org/reporter/
fall 06/danzon.htm, accessed on 14.03.2013.
24. The Indian Pharmaceutical Industry (2013) : Coming of Age in a Global
260 Reflections on Consumer Protection

Market”, New York, March 28, 2013; source: http://www.reportlinker.


com/p01154641/The-Indian-Pharmaceutical-Industry-2013-Coming-
of-Age-in-a-Global-Market.html#utm_source= prnewswire&utm_
medium=pr&utm_campaign=Generic_Drug)..., as accessed on
24.04.2013.
25. PHARMABiz.com; as accessed on 03.04.2013.
26. DGCIS (2011), Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence &
Statistics, Kolkata.
27. Chowdhury S (2011), MNC patent monopoly and takeover of generics
in India, The Third World Network Information Service on Health
Issues, Third World Network; source : www.twnside.org.sg, accessed on
03.03.2013.
28. Chowdhury S( 2005), The WTO and India’s Pharmaceuticals Industry-
Patent Protection, Trips and Developing Countries, Oxford University
Press.
29. PricewaterhouseCoopers (2007 ), Pharma 2020: Marketing the future,
Which path will you take?, source :www.pwc.com/.../pharma.../pharma.../
pharma-2020-marketing-the-future; as accessed on 14.04.2013.
30. WHO (2003), Creese A , Shedding Light on Medicine prices in Essential
Drugs Monitor, No.033, World Health Organisation.
31. Garg, C Charu and Karan, K Anup (2009), Reducing Out-Of-Pocket
Expenditures to reduce poverty : a disaggregated analysis at rural-urban
and state level in India in Health Policy and Planning 24: 116–28; Journal
of Health Management, Volume 12 (3): 399, SAGE – Sep, 2010.
32. Sakhtivel Selvaraj & Veena Nabar (2010), India Health Report, chapt.6,
eds. Ajay Mahal, Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari, Indicus Analytics
& Business Standard Publications, New Delhi.
33. Sakhtivel Selvaraj (2010), Access to Essential Drugs and Medicine;
source: ftp://203.90.70.117/sear oftp/WROIND/whoindia/link file/
Commission_on_Macroeconomic_and_Health_Access_to_Essential_
Drugs_and_Medicine.pdf, accessed on 13.07.2011.
34. Chakraborty B (2012), Consumer Health and Drug Market, in Suresh
Misra, Swapna Chaddha and Mamta Pathania ed. Consumer Concerns in
the 21st Century : Socio-legal Perspective,pp 69-84, Centre for Consumer
Studies, IIPA, New Delhi; ISBN : 81-86641-64-5.
35. Sengupta A, Reji K. Joseph, Shilp Modi and Nirmalya Syne (2009),
Economic Constraints to Access to Essential Medicines in India; Society
for Economic and Social Studies, New Delhi in collaboration with WHO
Country office for India.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 261

36. Das S.C, M.Mandal and S.C.Mandal (2007), A Critical Study on


Availability and Price Variation Between Different Brands : Impact
on Access to Medicines, Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences,
January-February.
37. Correa C.M (1997), Health Economics- The Uruguay Round & Drugs,
World Health Organisation, Geneva.
38. Burdon Pascale (1997), Comparative Analysis of National Drug Policies
in 12 countries, Geneva, Action Programme on essential Drugs, WHO
(WHO/DAP/97.6).
39. Roy Vandana, Usha Gupta & Arun K. Agarwal ( 2012), Cost of medicines
& their affordability in private pharmacies in Delhi (India), Indian
Journal Medical Research, No.136, November, pp 827-835.
40. Levison, Liby and Richard Laing (2003), Hidden Cost of Essential
Medicines, in Essential Drug Monitor No. 033, WHO, Geneva.
41. Chakraborty B (2011), Market Mechanism and the Drug Availability-
State of Consumers’ Health: An Investigative Study, unpublished report of
theproject sponsored by IIPA, New Delhi.
42. Joseph Alexander (2013), PHARMABIZ .com, New Delhi, Tuesday, May
14th, , 2013.
43. BCDA (2012), Report published by Bengal Chemist & druggist
Association, a State Level wing of All India Chemist & Druggist
Association, Kolkata.
44. Sighal, G.L., A. Nanda and Anita Kotwani (2011), Jana Aushudhi Stores
in India and Quality of Medicines Therein; International Journal of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Services, Vol.3, Issue.1, ISSN-0975-1491.
45. National Health Accounts India (2004-5), National Health Accounts
Cell, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India (in
Collaboration with WHO Country Office for India).
46. Indian Pharmaceutical industry (2011), Leading Pharmaceutical
Companies, News report; source : www.pharmaceutical _drug_
manufacturers.com/pharmaceutical-industry, accessed on 09.11.2011.
47. Singhal G,L, Arun Nanda and Anita Kotwani (2011), A Comparative
Evaluation of Price and Quality of Some Branded versus Branded-
generic Medicines of the same Manufacturer in India, Indian Journal of
Pharmacology, April, vol.43, issue 2.
48. Katzu, S.N (2002), Commentary on Law of Drugs with Allied Acts along
with Rules, revised by Ravi Kant,4th Ed. ,New Delhi Law House.
49. GOI (2003), Comprehensive Examination of Drug Regulatory Issues,
including the Problem of Spurious drugs, Report of the Technical
Committee, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
262 Reflections on Consumer Protection

50. Parliamentary Standing Committee (2010), Issues relating to Availability


of Generic, Generic-Branded and Branded Medicines, their Formulation
and Therapeutic Efficacy and Effectiveness, Health & Family Welfare,
45th Report presented to Lok Sabha on 4th August and to Rajya Sabha on
24th August, 2010.
51. Katzu, S.N (2002), Commentary on Law of Drugs with Allied Acts along
with Rules, revised by Ravi Kant,4th Ed. ,New Delhi Law House.
Reflections on Consumer Protection 263

About the Editors


Prof. Suresh Misra a well-known expert on consumer issues
is currently Professor (Consumer Affairs) and Coordinator, Centre
for Consumer Studies, a Think Tank and Knowledge Partner of
the Department of Consumer Affairs, GoI at the Indian Institute
of Public Administration, New Delhi. He holds his Master’s in
Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi,
Masters in Human Resource Management from Pondicherry Central
University, D.Phil. from Allahabad Central University and Post
Graduate Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from
Calcutta.   Prof. Misra has been associated with consumer studies
for the last twenty five years and carried out a number of research
and evaluation studies sponsored by national and international
agencies. Prof. Misra is a Member of the Central Consumer
Protection Council, GoI. He is the Project Director of the National
Consumer Helpline and the State Consumer Knowledge Resource
Management Portal set up by the Department of Consumer Affairs,
GoI at IIPA.
Dr. Sapna Chadah is currently working as Assistant Professor
in Constitutional & Administrative Law at the Indian Institute of
Public Administration, New Delhi. She holds her Masters in Law
(LL.M) from University of Delhi and Ph.D. from Jamia Millia
Islamia, Delhi. Her major areas of interest include Constitutional
Law, Administrative Law, Consumer Protection law and Policy,
Environmental Management, Laws in Urban Management,
Regulation of service sectors and Privatisation. She was associated
with a number of research studies in the area of consumer
protection and consumer welfare. She has also been associated
with Consultancy Project on “Promoting involvement of Research
Institutions/Universities/ Colleges in Consumer Protection and
Consumer Welfare” sponsored by department of Consumer Affairs.
She has nine books, four monographs to her credit and published
more than 30 papers in journals of repute.
264 Reflections on Consumer Protection
Reflections on

Reflections on Consumer Protection : Case Studies


INDIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Consumer Protection
The Indian Institute of Public Administration, established as an autonomous body
under the Registration of Societies Act, was inaugurated on March 29, 1954 by Shri
Jawaharlal Nehru who was also the first President of the Society. The basic purpose
of establishing this Institute was to undertake such academic activities as would
enhance the leadership qualities and managerial capabilities of the executives in the

Case Studies
government and other public service organization. The activities of the Institute are
organized in four inter-related areas of Research, Training, Advisory and Consultancy
Services and Dissemination of Information.
CENTRE FOR CONSUMER STUDIES
CCS is dedicated to consumer studies and is sponsored by DCA, GoI. The objective of
the CCS is to perform, facilitate and promote better protection of consumers’ rights
and interests with special reference to rural India. The broad areas of focus of the
Centre comprise capacity building, advocacy, policy analysis, research, advisory
and consultative services, and networking.
The Centre seeks to network with national and international agencies and interface
with other stakeholders by serving as a bridging “think tank” with an intensive
advocacy role. The Centre provides a forum for creating dialogue among policy-
makers, service-providers, representatives of various business establishments and
their associations, professional bodies/associations, civil society organizations,
educational/research institutions, economic and social development organizations as
well as leading NGOs.

Centre for Consumer Studies


Room No.85
Indian Institute of Public Administration
I.P. Estate, Ring Road
New Delhi—110002
Tel: 011-23468347, 23705928 (Fax)
Email: ccs.iipa@gmail.com
Website: www.consumereducation.in

Editors
Suresh Misra
Sapna Chadah

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION


IIPA NEW DELHI