‘WE ARE COMMITTED TO CONSUMER SAFETY’: PASWAN
In a freewheeling conversation, Ram Vilas Paswan shares his Ministry’s emphasis on ensuring consumer security while also discussing the schemes that have been initiated to protect the interest of backward classes.
Tell us about the government’s initiatives that will enable consumers to harness the complete benefit of digitisation and ensure their privacy.
The rights such as safety, information, choice, scope for lodging complaints and grievance redressal are pivotal to consumer protection. We are ensuring that all consumers receive the benefits they are deemed to and that they also receive complete information on their expenditures, as is their right. The government is on the right track in ensuring that consumers receive the full benefits of digitisation, while also initiating adequate safeguards against the risks associated with the digital world. Both – digital literacy and financial literacy – should go hand-inhand, for a prosperous cashless economy, as envisioned by the government, where consumers are skilled enough to confidently use the digital payments system and avail various financial products.
What steps have been taken to safeguard the interest of consumers?
The Ministry’s Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is in the process of adopting ISO Standard – ISO 10008:2013 – as guidelines for business-to-consumer electronic commerce transactions (B2C ECT) and, also, for improving the B2C ECT system within an organisation. This will help in safeguarding the interests of consumers.
The revamped Consumer Protection Bill is yet to receive the Parliament’s nod. What are your comments?
The new Consumer Protection Bill has been approved by the Cabinet and it would be tabled at the next session of the Parliament. We have drafted the bill ensuring that it redresses all grievances of the consumers. The existing Consumer Protection Act is 31-years old and the market scenario has significantly altered over the years. Today is the age of technology and educating the consumers and redressing their grievances in the digital world is of prime importance.
What steps have you initiated for the welfare of Dalits?
The government, which is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is committed to the holistic welfare of Dalits. Several initiatives have been undertaken by the government for the overall upliftment of people belonging to the vulnerable sections of society. Schemes like Stand-up India, scholarships for SC/ST students, providing 15 kg subsidised foodgrains to Dalit students staying in hostels, among many others, are proof that the government is committed to the welfare of Dalits.
The Stand-up India scheme was launched by the Prime Minister to promote entrepreneurship among women, scheduled castes and tribes by enabling them to secure loans without hassle. This scheme has provided massive fuel to employment generation.
Tells us more about the scheme to provide subsidised foodgrains to Dalit students staying in hostels.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has decided to provide 15 kg of wheat and rice per month, to approximately one crore students living in hostels, where at least two-thirds of students belong to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. It’s a landmark decision as students belonging to the weaker sections of society are often unable to purchase costly foodgrains for their daily meals. With this, students would now get grains at the BPL rate, which is Rs 4.15 per kg for wheat and Rs 5.65 per kg for rice.
The scheme is 100 per cent centrallyfunded and the states just need to provide the number of beneficiaries. The Centre would instantly allocate the fund or foodgrains and enable students to access their share. The ministry has also asked all chief ministers across states to submit details of Sc/st/backward students staying in either SC/ST hostels or any other hostel in the state where they meet the criteria of two-thirds belonging to backward classes.
RAM VILAS PASWAN Union Minister for Consumer Affairs & Food Minister