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Governance: Government to provide more protection to consumers




Not in India. Due to not much movement in the past towards revamping its laws to add more teeth (enabling punishment of manufacturers for making sub-standard items), Indian customers are frequently short-charged. So, for example, you read about manufacturers in the Western countries and Japan recalling products when there are safety issues or health issues, you will find it hard to find similar examples in India. If the intentions of the Government are any guide, such a situation will not last for much longer. The Government is planning steps to modify laws such that consumers get a higher degree of protection against sub-standard goods, including a critical measure called as ‘product liability clause’, making manufacturers liable to pay punitive damages (punitive damages are fines that are meant to punish, and typically of such a level that they hurt the manufacturer). Read the article:

The Indian government is keen to similarly empower consumers against sub-standard goods. In the works are a set of tough laws which will include the critical product liability clause, making erring manufacturers and suppliers liable to pay punitive damages. The proposals, expected to substantially overhaul existing consumer laws, are part of recommendations made by the Planning Commission in the 11th five-year Plan, which is to be placed before the National Development Council next month.
The commission has recommended mandatory standards for products which impact health and safety of the consumer as well as harm the environment. These include electrical appliances, electronic, IT and telecom products, medical devices, industrial and fire safety equipment, helmets and material used for food packaging. While making these recommendations, the government for the first time has admitted that there are serious shortfalls in achieving consumer welfare because of lack of laws regulating many products and services that impact health, environment and safety in general.

If the Government is able to bring in these measures, they will add more protection to consumers and rein in manufacturers who do not care about the health or well-being of the consumer. This will also give rights to the consumer that are enjoyed in more advanced countries. And given the ambition of the country to be a big manufacturing base, it will also help in creating a much greater force for achieving a much higher level of quality. Now it is a question of whether the Government can actually take the required steps.




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