Thursday, September 23, 2021

Be aware

Editorial 2

We are living in an age of intense realization that rights of humans, in whatever capacity, are to be protected through the instrument of law. International politics and state institutions are wedded to this idea. The constitutions of various states around the globe reflect the importance of the idea of rights. One of the dimensions of this idea is the protection of a person as a consumer. Since our interactions with market have increased manifold, and we are always consuming one or the other thing, we need to update laws, and make its implementation effective. In our state, there is today an element of mistrust looming large in the market, as unfair trade practices continue unabated. It is usually found that the prices of consumer goods traded in the markets here are settled arbitrarily by the seller well under the nose of authorities. Ours is a place where within one city/town, different products have different rates. It becomes very difficult for consumers to check whether retailers are actually charging the right amount of local taxes on the products they sell or they are overcharging. This has led to a situation where confusion in respect of price of goods is natural for the consumer. Amid this confusion, traders and manufacturers gain huge profit. Sure one cannot deny that businesses have taken a big hit due to the pandemic induced lockdowns, coupled with the unprecedented rise in prices of petroleum products. Every consumer is hit because of the rising price of petroleum products. And this goes into making an ugly tale of inflation. The prices of commodities, particularly eatables are going high with each passing day. This poses a serious challenge to the administration. On the one hand the market forces are dictating an upward trend in prices. On the other, there is an urgent need to contain the prices, as the common consumer is facing the heat. It is not possible, given the thin condition of earnings, to buy the usual bucket of eatables. Not to speak of the luxury items, even the stuff of basic need is hard to buy. In this situation the government needs to come forward and do something to stabilize the markets. And if there are any cases of overcharging, hoarding or profiteering that need to be seriously dealt with. There is no room for a lackadaisical attitude on this count. People are already burdened, and their backs are breaking under the twin burden of job loss and inflation. The concerned departments need to come into action and punish the errant in the market. Today the question of exploitation, of malpractice, and of manipulation have become more intensely than ever before. To put a leash on such wrong practices and to protect a customer from being cheated the authorities need to be proactive. In modern day governance pattern we have specific laws dealing with the rights of a consumer, and in case there is a violation of such rights, there is a concrete structure for redress. But unfortunately, the element of exploitation still persists here. The reasons for that are manifold. One, our systems meant for the application of specific laws are not efficient. Two, our consumers are not aware of their rights as they should have been. And third, we don’t update the regulations and systems in time. The cumulative result of this is that consumers are wronged. The departments and officials that are assigned with the task of defending consumer rights need to shown some activism, and ensure that the elements of exploitation, in whatever form, must be dealt with seriously. Since marketing has undergone a significant transition, there is a need to update systems and processes, and also launch a massive awareness campaign to enable consumers to defend their rights. It is also time to take account of the digital and on line marketing. Here also consumers need to be informed and educated so that they are not wronged. Alongside these awareness campaigns, the departments related to consumer affairs should take severe punitive actions against violators of consumer rights. Such examples can deter others from resorting to any malpractices, hence providing a safe atmosphere to a consumer.