"The motivation to protest, fight and correct injustice is manifest in consumerism-a unique word which signifies both the opposites of consumption. The consumer movement is neutral to class, caste, gender, creed, race and religion, it is a non-partisan political movement wherein the rights of the richest and the poorest consumer deserve appropriate protection. "
Due to its pioneering work in the area of consumer protection, CUTS has not only risen to the forefront of the consumer movement in India, but also the world. It has spearheaded several campaigns and pioneered consumer empowerment. At the ground level, it has trained and created over 1000 activists and help establish over 300 independent groups in Rajasthan and elsewhere. In order to achieve cutting edge in its activities, the Centre has formulated its own vision statement. (PDF format).
In 1992, CUTS launched the All India Consumer Action Network (AICAN), a coalition of nearly 30 consumer representatives in the Government of India’s Central Consumer Protection Council. AICAN has since emerged as the Consumer Coordination Council, the apex body of consumer organisations in India. Currently it has about 50 members, the criterion being mainly that members will be recruited from such organisations who are or have been members of the Central Consumer Protection Council. The formation of the body was catalysed by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, New Delhi. CUTS has served as its founding member and has been responsible to draft its mission statement as well as the basic structure of its capacity building work.
research and advocacy
Responsible for the enactment, strengthening and enforcement of the dynamic Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA), likes of which are not seen elsewhere. Instrumental in getting the World Consumer Rights Day, 15th March adopted as the National Consumers Day, and a survey and lobbying on the irrational structure of local taxes led to a pro consumer change in policy. For more information, click here.
Pursuant to a public interest litigation on medical negligence by CUTS, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all government employees even if they or their families get free medical treatment, they would be covered under COPRA. The landmark judgment settled the controversy of medical negligence being covered under COPRA. In another landmark case involving strikes in a bank, where the banks down shutters, the apex court ruled that the banks have to provide alternative arrangements to consumers or face action. Since then, no long strike has taken place in any bank.
click on the links to get the memorandum submitted to the union finance minister by CUTS.
Divisional Level Events under Tobacco Control Project:
The project is aimed at strengthening the grassroot consumer movement in Rajasthan by establishing social action groups at the block level through a scientifically structured work programme.
In the first phase, the project was implemented in four districts of Rajasthan namely Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur and Pali. 8 blocks of Ajmer, 14 of Chittorgarh, 9 of Jodhpur and 10 of Pali were surveyed and the possibilities of creating social action groups were find out by identifying new volunteers or existing inactive organisations.
In 1998, the 2nd phase of the programme was established with the support of Canadian International Development Agency, New Delhi, and in four new districts namely Nagaur, Jalore, Kota and Bhilwara. Similar social action groups were created in 5 blocks of Kota, 11 of Nagaur, 11 of Bhilwara and 7 of Jalore.
The activities undertaken at the block level are:
This is followed by a rally or a campaign meeting at the district level.
These block level organisations are coordinated by a district-level organisation. Both the district group and block groups are financially supported by CUTS under a mother unit scheme. For more information, click here.
Building: Consumer Friends Training
Building: Training for Young Consumer Leaders
But the world had become much more complex. In 1990s, borders were crumbling in the wake of globalisation of several protected economies, including that of India. Liberalisation of the economy had heralded newer forms of products and marketing, and created a very complex market leaving consumers confused and bewildered. Simultaneously, there had also been a sprut in the growth of voluntary organisations. The issues and consumer rights' abuses were many; and activists few.
In such a scenario, CUTS realised that the then consumer movement in India dominated by a handful of consumer activists, was incapable of tackling the new challenges. An urgent need was felt to scientifically promote a generation of young consumer leaders who could carry the flag for achieving consumer sovereignty into the 21st century.
The regional office of the International Organisation of Consumer Unions (IOCU) saw reason in this viewpoint. As part of its programme to strengthen the consumer movement in India, the IOCU selected CUTS to organise a series of training workshops to impart leadership traits among the young consumer leaders.
These workshops were organised in Calcutta, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. About 25 young activists were taken through a course in skills impartation, campaigning, media advocacy, strategic planning and organisational development.
In order to give political direction to Right to Information, the Department of Food and Consumer Affairs, Government of India has decided to establish a “Consumer Information Centre” in all the 450+ districts in the 9th Five year plan. In the first phase 40 such Centres are to be set up, and operated by NGOs.
CUTS was selected to set up a Centre at Jaipur with the support of Consumer Welfare Fund. If this Centre is successful, CUTS will establish such centres at Chittorgarh and Calcutta, which have also been approved.
The services available at the Consumer Information Centre are:
On the whole this Centre is designed to work as library, research and consumer counseling centre, as well as a resource centre for other NGOs.
Policies announced or formulated by the government are implemented through budgets and five year plans. Efficiency is also wanting. While there is a government appointed watchdog, the Auditor General and legislative committees: Public Accounts Committee at both the centre and the state, yet a huge amount of money goes waste. Therefore, CUTS took up Citizens' Accountability Project in Rajasthan in the year 1998. A report on macro analysis of Rajasthan state budgets for the period 1992-93 to 1997-98 is available. Following this pilot project, a bigger project was taken up in October 1999: "Promoting State Accountability and Citizen Empowerment through Budget Analysis".
Under this project, analysis of budgets, plans and development schemes will be done with the object of : "Informing and educating women, farm labourers and marginal farmers about the manner in which funds allocated for their benefit are mis/un-utilised at various level of government heirarchy and thus, provoke action by the citizen to make the government more open and accountable." This project for three years is being funded by The Ford Foundation, New Delhi. For more information, click here.
Consumer Policy Statement
The rationale behind the national consumer policy stems from Article 39 of the Directive Principles under the Constitution of India to be followed by the State to ensure overall welfare of the citizens of the country.
The draft National Consumer Policy of India is based on the consumer rights enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, 1985.
CUTS in association with Friedrich Ebert Stuftung has launched 3 year long programme with the aim of involving the consumers at policy making as well as its execution level, and to bring about minimum consensus amongst major political parties about the power sector reforms in the state of Rajasthan.
of the Indian Consumer
Implicitly it spells out what governments need to do to buttress the eight rights of consumers. The case for the guidelines is that they set out and codify the main elements of the consumer protection, and create an international framework within which national consumer protection polices can be worked out. They give consumer policy a clear set of objectives and provide a checklist against which governments can measure their own policies. Moreover, the guidelines cannot remain static. They need to change with time, especially when national economies are being globalised and the information revolution is shrinking the world every day.
The UN Guidelines, the most comprehensive policy framework aimed at protecting consumers rights around the world, has the following objectives to:
CUTS had taken up a project to research, document and hold national consultation on the implementation of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection 1985 in India. The objectives of this project are to:
The project is completed and the final report is being prepared. The abstract of the report is available as an Overview.
Rights and its Expansion
Right to Safety,
The Consumers International (CI), formerly International Organisation of Consumer Unions (IOCU), expanded the charter of consumer rights contained in the US Bill of Right, which in a logical order reads:
CUTS is continuously working in the direction of consumer rights and its expansion. It has advocated the inclusion of two other rights: 1. The Right to Boycott and 2. The Right to Opportunity.
Boycott can be defined as the social and commercial intercourse: to refuse to take part in, deal with, handle by way of trade, etc. It can be defined as the refusal to social and commercial relation with (a person, group, country, etc.) or refusal to handle or use the goods.
Taking a leaf out of the India's freedom movement, when Mahatma Gandhi had successfully organised various boycotts of foreign cloth, salt etc. we at CUTS declared and adopted the 9th Consumer Right on India's Independence Day- 15 August 1990: "The right to resist and boycott any person, goods or services in the event of conflict with consumer's interest".
Opportunity can be defined as the means through which human beings find the wherewithal to function in the society as consumers. The existence of opportunity gives a person the freedom of enlargement of his activities (both economic as well as social) in the dynamics of participatory governance.
Observing the social disarray created by government jobs and dole schemes, whether permanent or temporary, and how they maim the spirit of enterprise which prevails in the mass humanity of India, CUTS was inspired to declare and adopt the 10th (enabling) Consumer Right on 26th January 1991: "The right to opportunities to acquire basic needs which will enable one to work and to earn a living, without exploitation".
Power Sector Reforms
Events: Power Sector Reforms
March 18-19, 2004, Jaipur India New
training seminar of the CUTS-FES joint programme ‘Involvement of Consumers
in Power Sector
Reforms in Rajasthan’ January 13, 2004, Alwar
January 13, 2004, AlwarFourth training seminar of the CUTS-FES joint programme ‘Involvement of Consumers in Power Sector Reforms in Rajasthan’
November 23, 2003, Sawai Madhopur
November 23, 2003, Sawai Madhopur
First of the
Series of Focussed Workshop under the project ‘Involvement of Consumers
in Power Sector Reforms
in Rajasthan’ August 19-20, 2002,
August 19-20, 2002,
December 27, 2001, Hotel Aravali, Alwar.
November 20, 2001, Abu Road,India
October 06, 2001, Chittorgarh, India
August 20-21, 2001, Jaipur India
Policies to Improve Outcomes through Social Accountability Approaches:
Field Experiences from India
Demand with Social Accountability
‘Gram Gadar’ (Village Revolution), our rural wall-newspaper, has complete its 20 years. This newspaper was launched in 1983 with the aim of increasing awareness of rural folk and weaker sections of the society in Rajasthan.
To commemorate the completion of 20 years of this wall-newspaper, CUTS organised a Symposium on the ‘Role of Means of Communication in Rural Development’ on 13th April, 2002, Jaipur.
more information please contact:
organisations through out the world celebrate 15th of March as the World
Consumer Rights Day. CUTS utilised this opportunity to release a book
entitled “How to Survive as A Consumer” in English and “Adhikar
Upbhokta ka, Rah Kanoon Ki” in Hindi, at Press Club of India,
Raisina Road, New Delhi.
Prasad, Hon’ble Minister of State for Consumer Affaires and Food,
released the book written by Mr. Pradeep S Mehta. The publication of
this book is a part of continuous efforts of CUTS in the direction of
Consumer Awareness, in general and Right to Representation and Redressal,
others, peoples from civil society organisations, various government
establishments and from media participated in the event.
information please contact:
Copyright 2005 Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), All