‘All stakeholders should join hands to serve consumer’

first_imgPANAJI: The Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), a leading consumer rights’ organisation, is working towards a movement where corporations, manufacturers and retailers become corporate members of CERS, and all these stakeholders serve consumers together.Talking to The Hindu on the sidelines of an event organised by consumer rights body GOACAN on Sunday, Walter Vieira, chairman of the Ahmedabad-based CERS, said, “I want to start this movement because I firmly believe that corporates, manufacturers and organisations like CERS are not enemies, but are on the same side of the table to serve the consumers.” Consumer-centricHe added, “If the consumer is the centre of business, as it should be in any business, then what is the conflict? You want to give them the best, value for money. And these corporates should then be able to say on their letterheads, ‘we are a consumer-centric company and that we are members of CERS’.”“My second thing is to reach out to retailers. [For instance,] in Singapore, they have a placard on the counter saying ‘we are approved by the consumer union of Singapore. If you have any complaint, contact here’. It shows it is consumer-centric and compliant,” said Mr. Vieira.He said that in developed countries, consumer unions are able mobilise huge funds through magazine subscriptions. He recalled how CERS had to close down its magazine Insight, which was losing ₹1 lakh a month as it could not get more than 1,800 subscribers. At present, the CERS runs a Hindi magazine called Grahak Sathi with funds from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. It expects to get grants from the Gujarat and Telangana governments for Gujarati and Telugu issues.Govt. support lackingMr. Vieira admits that the consumer movement has failed to take off in the country because organisations have not been able to get masses involved. But he laments that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has been giving huge grants to organisations like FICCI and CII for consumer protection, but not even one-tenth of the amount to consumer organisations. “Does it make any sense? Six months ago, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan announced huge grants to the Advertising Standards Council of India. You are giving them a couple of crores, to do what? To protect the ad agencies?” he asked. Mr. Vieira said he was not not happy with the consumer courts in the country. “The idea is fine, but the government is not supporting it. Not giving enough money to support it — infrastructure for courts, personnel, nothing,” he said.last_img

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