My rights and your du­ties

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice - Ed­i­tor Padma

It’s easy to con­sume if one has the means to con­sume. It’s nice to have ameni­ties to use. Rivers to throw things into. Roads to throw empty pack­ets and bot­tles on. Parks to make a mess of, with wrap­pers and pack­ets and bot­tles. Some­body is bound to clean up af­ter us. And if no­body does… well, that’s okay too. Is it, though?

Dur­ing ran­dom con­ver­sa­tions with friends, we la­ment the state of gen­eral ap­a­thy to­wards most things. In­clud­ing roads, rivers, trees, air, pub­lic places, traf­fic rules. (Cricket is an ex­cep­tion. So are the movies.) A friend was re­count­ing the time when she was cross­ing the DND fly­way (ex­press­way that con­nects Delhi and Noida over the Ya­muna river) and saw a man throw­ing puja of­fer­ings into the river. When he threw the plas­tic bag too, it was the last straw. The friend stopped the car, walked to the man and asked him why he did what he did. The man, while not ex­pect­ing the ques­tion, was not to be in­tim­i­dated. Far from it. With a smirk (that all-too-fa­mil­iar smirk), he said, “Why don’t you jump in and re­trieve what­ever you have to?”

Whether this comes from a com­plete ab­sence of con­scious­ness or the ar­ro­gance of right­eous­ness or an out­right lack of any sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity, is dif­fi­cult to tell. That at­ti­tude and that in­ci­dent are not one-off episodes. Try telling a per­son to not spit in pub­lic places, or to not dump the potato-chips wrap­per on the road, and then de­ci­pher the re­sponse you get.

Per­haps it’s true that we ex­pect some­body else to take the lead, to say the very words that we wish to say. So that we can con­tinue en­joy­ing our rights.

We be­lieve we have a right to clean air, clean wa­ter, clean roads, clean parks, a clean city. Isn’t it fair and log­i­cal then that we don’t do things that will lead to the very op­po­site? Come to think of it, doesn’t it be­come our duty to pro­tect that which we be­lieve is our right? In a way, we are con­sumers of the re­sources that we use. So, shouldn’t we con­sume with care, thought, re­straint and re­spon­si­bil­ity—with as much a sense of right as of duty?

One keeps hear­ing of the rights that we have as con­sumers – right to know about any prod­uct or ser­vice, right to be se­cure from any dan­ger­ous prod­uct or ser­vice, right to choose any­thing, right to be heard by the seller, right to com­plain in case of dis­sat­is­fac­tion with any prod­uct or ser­vice, and so on. How many of us know of our du­ties as con­sumers?

At first glance, you may be in­clined to dis­miss at least some of th­ese as ‘ob­vi­ous’. Some ex­am­ples: al­ways take the bill of pur­chase; don’t get car­ried away by the big prom­ises in the – do your own re­al­ity check, ask ques­tions of the sales­per­son or man­u­fac­turer if you need clar­i­fi­ca­tion or fur­ther in­for­ma­tion; take your time to com­pare prod­uct fea­tures and prices be­fore making a de­ci­sion to pur­chase it; read all the terms and con­di­tions care­fully be­fore pur­chas­ing any­thing; keep the guar­an­tee/war­ranty card with you along with the cash memo.

Oth­ers you will not dis­miss but may not really get down to practising. For ex­am­ple, will you com­plain if you are not sat­is­fied with a prod­uct or ser­vice even if you are not per­son­ally af­fected? Will you de­mand a re­fund or re­place­ment for in­fe­rior prod­ucts and ser­vices even if the money in­volved is small? Will you go to a con­sumer fo­rum if needed? Man­u­fac­tur­ers need to know that their prod­uct has neg­a­tive or pos­i­tive po­ten­tial so they can make ad­just­ments or im­prove­ments.

Lastly, will you use the prod­ucts you pur­chase in a way that does not neg­a­tively im­pact the en­vi­ron­ment or other con­sumers? Let us re­mem­ber that con­scious con­sumers are vi­tal to cre­at­ing a fair and com­pe­tent mar­ket­place—much like a proac­tive cit­i­zenry is crit­i­cal to good gov­er­nance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.