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Consumer Awareness

An enlightened consumer is an empowered consumer. An aware consumer not only protects himself from exploitation but induces efficiency, transparency and accountability in the entire manufacturing and services sector. Realising the importance of consumer empowerment the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution(External website that opens in a new window) has accorded top priority to Consumer Education, Consumer Protection and Consumer Awareness.

Jago Grahak Jago

The slogan 'Jago Grahak Jago' has now become a household name as a result of the publicity campaign undertaken in the last 5 years. Through the increased thrust on consumer awareness in the XIth Five Year Plan, the Government has endeavoured to inform the common man of his rights as a consumer. As part of the consumer awareness scheme, the rural and remote areas have been given the top priority. The Government has used multiple channels to create awareness it includes: Print media advertisements(External website that opens in a new window)Audio Campaigns(External website that opens in a new window)Video Campaigns(External website that opens in a new window), etc.

What is CONSUMERISM?
The first and basic explanation is the protection or promotion of the interests of consumers. On the other hand its derogatory reference is to the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods.
One could also consider the movement by consumers to ensure fair and ethical practices on the part of service providers in relation to consumers as an act of consumerism.
Historically:

There are various rights and responsibilities of consumers. The United Nation (UN) had framed guidelines for consumer protection. The draft UN guidelines were discussed at great length from the 1960s onwards before finally being adopted in 1985. The guidelines were expanded in 1999 with issues of sustainable consumption and were re-adopted in the UN General Assembly decision 54/449. 2010 that marked the 25th year of the adoption of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection. 

The UN General Principles set out the legitimate needs of consumers as follows:

  • the protection of consumers from hazards to their health and safety
  • the promotion and protection of the economic interests of consumers
  • consumer access to adequate information to enable making informed choices according to individual wishes and needs
  • consumer education, including education on the environmental, social and economic impacts of consumer choice
  • the availability of effective consumer redress
  • freedom to form consumer and other relevant groups or organizations and the opportunity for such organizations to present their views in decision-making processes affecting them
  • the promotion of sustainable consumption patterns (added in 1999).
  • Over time, the consumer movement has developed this vision into a set of eight basic consumer rights.
  • The right to satisfaction of basic needs - To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water, and sanitation.
  • The right to safety - To be protected against products, production processes and services, which are hazardous to health or life.
  • The right to be informed - To be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.
  • The right to choose - To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
  • The right to be heard - To have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.
  • The right to redress - To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
  • The right to consumer education - To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
  • The right to a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment, which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
 
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