Government and industry bodies sign MoU to empower consumers
Marking World Consumer Rights Day on 22 March, India’s Department of Consumer Affairs signed MoUs with industry bodies to undertake joint programmes on implementing a self-regulated code of business practices to protect consumer rights against misleading ads and fake items. Establishing a consumer affairs division/vertical within the industry body, initiating advocacy action against unfair trade practices, preventing fake, counterfeit and sub-standard products and services, and adoption of voluntary standards by industry members have been agreed upon in the MoUs. Earmarking of CSR funds for consumer awareness and protection activities; partnering with the National Consumer Helpline and State Consumer Helplines for grievance redressal; and launching joint consumer awareness, education and training programmes will also be taken up by the industry. A joint working group will monitor the implementation aspects.
The self-regulatory code of ethical business conduct covers six broad principles: namely safety of products and services, building sustainable supply chains, marketing products ethically, non-indulgence in unfair trade practices, complying with competition and anti-trust laws, and prompt response to consumer complaints. Government, industry and voluntary consumer organisations will work to popularise the code amongst industry and business, and ensure that it is increasingly adhered to.