Insights Success, June 01, 2024

What an individual can do?

Whenever, as a consumer, you buy a product or service, if you’re being cheated, scammed, or deceived, many times, in many cases, your first thought is that. Then suddenly, you realise that there are many Acts protecting the rights of consumers or many organisations completely devoted to this regard. However, you may not know how these organisations were established first and by whom.

This is the story of an individual who has created a revolution. By bringing together like-minded individuals, he created a sustaining army of positively motivated spirits who changed the course of history to set a novel path for the future. He reminded them of their Fundamental Duties under the Constitution of India to enquire and seek reforms so that the nation continues to rise. Quoting the famous jurist, Nani Palkiwala, he added that one citizen is equal to 1000 individuals and that changes can be brought about by a handful of citizens and not necessarily by a mass movement.

A mighty leader on a noble mission, Pradeep S. MehtaSecretary General of Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International), Jaipur, transformed producers’ interest-based economies into consumer sovereign economies.

Today, as a consumer, you are aware of your rights and many consumer protection groups, thanks to Pradeep. Because Pradeep and his few friends decided to establish the CUTS in Jaipur, as no consumer group existed in Rajasthan to help consumers, consumers were hardly aware that they had the right to fair play from the vendors. His first pitch was that “Caveat Emptor” (buyers beware) is now “Caveat Venditor” (sellers beware).

CUTS is now a global advocacy group, perhaps, the only Indian NGO with overseas centres in Washington DC, Geneva, Accra, Nairobi, Lusaka and Hanoi.

Lighting Candles Instead of  Cursing the Darkness

Pradeep recalls that ever since gaining Independence in 1947, India has had a socialist economy, and shortages existed in many areas. Or the quality was bad because there was no or scarce competition. The early part of the decade of the 80s witnessed hectic economic activities in various spheres and set the ground for large-scale economic reforms that were to come about a decade later. However, questions such as whether consumer-citizens were participating in the growth process and whether the government was communicating policy changes to the consumer-citizens at large remained as important as ever.

One of the major reasons preventing consumers from actively participating in and fully benefitting from the growth process was the absence of accessible and effective communication platforms and devices for the general population. There were newspapers, radio and television, but their reach was limited, too. Making phone calls was a lifetime experience; there were no mobile phones or faxes, and the internet was unheard of.

The genesis of CUTS can be found in the importance of evidence-based communication in influencing the political economy of growth and development. A group of like-minded people devised an innovative idea to produce a monthly wall newspaper called Gram Gadar (Village Revolution) in Hindi. Indeed, it was so because, before its advent, there was hardly any means through which poor villagers in Rajasthan could access what the government was doing to improve their living standards.

The Journey of Revolutionary Hearts

They were convinced about the importance of such a communication device for the development of the villages that they serve and why that paper should be pasted on a wall in the village post office or at the common meeting place so they could also have better and much-needed access to development-related communication through Gram Gadar.

From the beginning, Gram Gadar covered news and critical analysis of developmental efforts made by the government. Today, it reaches more than 15,000 villages in Rajasthan and other Hindi-speaking parts of India. Its average readership is about 200 per copy. It remains as relevant as it was 40 years ago because of the ever-increasing developmental aspirations of India’s poor.

After 40 years, many of those who were associated with the initial success of Gram Gadar are related to various civil society movements at the grassroots; CUTS helped many of them to form community-based organisations; those networkers are the backbone of CUTS’ work on governance issues at the local level. They have become Upbhokta Mitra (Friends of Consumers) through sustained, hands-on training imparted and networking by CUTS. The model has been replicated in other parts of the country.

Enlightenment of the Marching Minds

Further, Pradeep’s leadership launched a few campaigns to build awareness. Generally, consumers were ignorant of their rights. Pradeep informs that the first campaign was the case of a shortage of match sticks in matchboxes. Though the shortage was small, the cumulative effect on the country was huge. Furthermore, whether rich or poor, all consumers use matchboxes and salt.

What’s in a Matchbox?” asks Pradeep. 

On a muggy evening in Jaipur, a group of friends (innovators of Gram Gadar, including Pradeep) were playing Scrabble. And smoking, too! Pradeep ‘discovered’ that the matchbox contained much less number of matchsticks than it was supposed to. Together, they decided to check it further by buying a carton containing 12 matchboxes and, to their dismay, found that, on average, in each box, there was a shortage of 25 per cent of matchsticks. They went to a police station to file a complaint of cheating; the police officer had never heard of such a complaint and unceremoniously sent them off.

The innovators of Gram Gadar decided to provide an institutional voice to consumer grievances by forming a society. They calculated that just because of matchsticks, consumers in India were fleeced millions of rupees yearly. Thinking about the plight of such consumers, CUTS was born not to cater only to the needs of rich consumers but to reach out to the unreached.

This situation was rectified after a complaint under the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTPA), amended in 1984 to include unfair trade practices (misleading advertising and deceptive claims).

Pradeep and his team CUTS’ second campaign was on coin shortage, which was quite a problem in the mid-1980s. A memorandum was signed by 44 MLAs in Rajasthan to the Reserve Bank of India. “Soon, the problem was resolved,” shares Pradeep. Also, two significant developments have taken place in the consumer movement at that time. The first was the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection in 1985, and the second was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA) in 1986 in India. Both were not related to each other but by sheer coincidence. Pradeep had a role in the adoption of COPRA.

Fostering Economic Democracy

Further, to promote consumer interest, several litigations were launched in High and Supreme courts, MRTP and Consumer Commissions, etc. All these campaigns sent a strong message to the people of India that they have rights regarding anticonsumer practices.

Pradeep informs, “Over time, we got into International Trade Policy issues in 1991 when the discussions on a possible World Trade Organisation were at their height. And the WTO arrived in 1994-95.” There was hardly any consumer group in the Global South that worked in this area. Since then, CUTS established a regional centre in South Asia to work on trade policy issues with the support of the German body, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, New Delhi. Their motto was: “Liberalisation yes, but with safety nets”.

CUTS has emerged as India’s leading transformational organisation in the consumer protection sphere. Sharing the guiding philosophy that has propelled his organisation’s success, Pradeep says that initially, all economic policies began and ended with producers’ interest. “We believed that consumer sovereignty is a part of any economic democracy and thus pushed for taking on board consumer interest in all economic policies,” states Pradeep. This was recognised widely by policy circles in India and the world.

He adds, “As concrete examples of pushing this paradigm, we persuaded the government of India to adopt the COPRA in 1986 and the Competition Act in 2002Both the laws were game changers in the economic policy rubric in our country.”

The enactment of COPRA boosted the consumer movement in the country because it recognised the power of a consumer organisation to bring forward complaints, whether individual or impacting a class of consumers.

CUTS inaugurated this institutional approach to address consumer grievances by filing the first complaint at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and the State Commissions in West Bengal and Rajasthan.

That led to a massive revolution in the consumer movement, and over 1,500 consumer groups and their federations were established throughout the country. Before that, there were only 30+ consumer groups and one dysfunctional federation in the country. This change greatly impacted how businesses behaved with consumers in the marketplace and built confidence in people who were now less helpless.

A Road of Hundred Milestones

Pradeep further informs that CUTS established the All India Consumer Action Network (AICAN), which later metamorphosed into the Consumer Coordination Council of India, a registered body.

The Central Consumer Protection Council and State Consumer Protection Councils were formed under COPRA for policy debate and advocacy. CUTS has served the Central and state bodies of Rajasthan and West Bengal since their inception. CUTS advocated with the government that these bodies would provide a federal and state platform where consumer representatives and policymakers could discuss, debate, and take the motto ‘Consumer interest is national interest’ forward.

According to Pradeep, consumers are everywhere. In taking part in the growth of the consumer movement in India, CUTS realised that it was mostly confined to a customer-centric approach. What about those who were not a part of the market economy? What about those who were suffering from government failures? These questions were confronting CUTS. However, the organisation was confronted with a bigger question while advocating for policy changes. Through policy advocacy, it tried to address some of the developmental challenges facing India, particularly from the point of view of rural consumers.

CUTS realised the need for doing developmental work at the grassroots and drawing lessons from there to highlight the problems faced by common Indian consumers in their totality in respect to accessing basic needs such as food, healthcare, and education, in terms of their right to make a choice, right to be heard, right to representation, right to a healthy environment, etc. Therefore, in 1991, CUTS started hands-on work at the grassroots level in Southern districts of Rajasthan.

In doing all this, CUTS realised that a strong consumer movement can help create a better enabling environment for a country’s overall development. It successfully advocated adopting an Indian eco-labelling scheme to empower consumers to influence production and consumption patterns by exercising choice in favour of the environment.

CUTS was at the forefront of resolving individual consumer grievances, including using tools such as class action suits and public interest litigation.

Similarly, we were responsible for enacting and upgrading competition and consumer protection regimes in over 30 developing countries of Asia and Africa,” shares Pradeep. This effort was mainly due to the support of the UK Charity, DFID, IDRC, Canada, SECO, Switzerland, and NORAD, Norway.

Proliferating True Governance 

The industrial landscape is continually evolving. Briefing about CUTS’ USPs and how it is currently positioned as one of the best transformational organisations, Pradeep says, “As described earlier, while we were responsible for the enactment of COPRA, we were also responsible for the enactment of the Competition Act in 2002. The Competition Act replaced the MRTPA, 1969, a more retrogressive law that stunted our economic growth.”

Pradeep adds that they convinced the government in 1999 that the MRTPA had outlived its utility, and because it did not have any teeth, it was ineffective. It was also retrogressive and stunted our growth. “Therefore, we needed a modern competition law which will be progressive and foster growth but comes down heavily on anticompetitive practices.”

Furthermore, global competition regimes shifted from size to conduct, particularly because economies were liberalised and opened up to competition. “Through thorough research, we showed the necessity of the modern competition law, with which the government was convinced,” mentions Pradeep. Along with his team at CUTS, Pradeep continues to work on competition policy through research and advocacy with governments, regional economic cooperation organisations, intergovernmental organisations and parliaments. Competition law has to contend with an evolving global industrial landscape, such as the digital economy or financial services.

Not only in India, but they have been working on international trade policy and how it impacts developing countries, including in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Pradeep says, “We have highlighted the cost of economic non-cooperation to consumers in South Asia and have also contributed to enhanced trade and connectivity in the region through initiatives like border Haats with Bangladesh.”

Pradeep has served as an Adviser to the Government of India’s Trade Policy Advisory Committee many times and to the commerce ministers of India and Zambia. He serves as NGO Adviser to the Director General of the World Trade Organisation for the third timethe only Indian citizen to be thus appointed.

Pradeep and his team have also contributed to other areas of citizen interest. They include the modernisation and implementation of the Motor Vehicles Act. Pradeep reveals, “We have been working on road safety in India and Ghana.”

In one case, Pradeep was asked by the Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways in India to prepare a comprehensive report of an action plan to promote road safety in India.

Aiding India’s Ecomark 

He adds that they were also responsible for launching the Ecomark scheme in India in 1991, which was crafted to promote environmental labels to products in 12 categories. “The scheme was in stasis for some time due to lack of political will but has now been revived due to our persistent advocacy.” The Indian Ecomark was established in 1991, and CUTS has remained at the forefront of its implementation.

Pradeep and his team have uniquely provided think tank support to the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Food Processing to deal with International Trade Policy issues for a few years. The Commerce Ministry, which deals with international trade policy issues, was very happy to get sensible inputs from both ministries, which were absent earlier.

Thus, it is no wonder that Pradeep’s leadership style is often recognised as the driving force behind CUTS’ tremendous achievements. Shedding light on his approach to leadership and team building within the organisation, Pradeep says, “I believe that leadership requires the creation of leaders, which means sharing knowledge and skills, recognising good performance, and encouraging them to take a plunge without fear.”

Secondly, to build up the staff’s emotional quotient. Team building is promoted through many collective exercises, including mundane monthly review meetings. Finally, it helps former staff members return to the organisation, which helps show the organisation’s values.

The essence of future transformation lies in innovation, disruptions, and enhancing the end-user experience. Striking a balance between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, Pradeep says they are constantly innovating, disrupting and improving their strategies on policy work to maximise outcomes, which satisfies their investors (development partners). “Sometimes, we have been able to get investors/development partners to review their decisions to invest in our projects despite an earlier rejection.”

Global South’s Consumer Protector

Digitalisation and technological advancements are crucial aspects of the modern industrial ecosystem. Integrating these principles into their core functioning and contributing to a technovative future, Pradeep says they continuously upgrade their systems and reskill staff to deal with digitalisation demands and to be able to cope with changes. “There is a conscious policy which we follow,” he insists.

CUTS has achieved remarkable success. Highlighting a transformative initiative that showcases their commitment to excellence and innovation, Pradeep shares, “One of the most successful research and advocacy work we did is in the area of competition policy and law not only in India but in the global South (30 countries) from 1988 to now. It has been one of our most transformative initiatives, helping promote economic democracy in the Global South. Various other unique successes result from innovation in how we apply knowledge and skills.”

CUTS became a member of the International Organisation of Consumer Unions (later renamed Consumers International) and participated in its World Congress held in Hong Kong in 1991. Discussions surrounding the Uruguay Round of the then General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade were at their peak. At that meeting, there was a debate on the impact of various provisions of the Dunkel Draft on consumers and developing countries. CUTS took part in that debate and realised its limitations.

Liberalisation Yes, but with Safety Nets

Besides the Hong Kong Congress of Consumers International, CUTS took part in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. While participating in various international NGO debates, CUTS realised how such organisations approach issues, analyse them and influence positions at multiple levels.

By the early 90s, India embarked on large-scale economic reforms that profoundly impacted the lives of its consumers and the economy. Because it articulated Southern voices, CUTS was invited to become a member and convener of the Global Policy and Campaigns Committee on Trade & Economic Issues of Consumers International. It helped CUTS participate in various debates on international trade and related issues, network with like-minded organisations, and, most importantly, look at issues more objectively: ’Liberalisation, yes, but with safety nets.’

Enrolling Children into School — A Collective Voice

In participating in international debates on trade and economic issues, CUTS realised that its voice was not being effectively heard because of its lack of analytical power and, more importantly, support from similar voices. CUTS understood the need to place a collective voice at the international forum on trade and economic issues, and that should come from like-minded NGOs based in the developing world. South-South cooperation among NGOs was felt.

Given the complexity of issues, CUTS formed an informal coalition called South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics & Environment (SAWTEE) to do policy research, exchange information on related developments and, most importantly, place a collective voice internationally. SAWTEE was formed in 1994, and CUTS hosted its secretariat. Aside from networking and policy research, from its very beginning, SAWTEE’s activities reached out to the global trade and economic community through various dissemination tools.

Not only that, many government officials took part in SAWTEE’s programmes, and they used that platform to vent their concerns about imbalances in the global economic system. The Government of India invited CUTS to join its Advisory Committee on International Trade — one of the only two NGOs in that body. CUTS took part in all the biennial WTO Ministerial Conferences since the first one was held in Singapore in 1996. It helped southern countries raise their voices against imbalances through its incisive analyses, supported by a collective voice.

CUTS also helped establish the International Centre for Trade & Sustainable Development in Geneva in 1996 as one of the five founding NGOs. CUTS was at the forefront of the campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) initiative of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and led it from the front with informed research. The Government of India also took note and commissioned a study to CUTS to analyse the impact of OECD MAI on the Indian economy. The recommendations of that study continue to remain a major knowledge source for the Government of India in formulating its position on international investment issues.

Afro-Asian Civil Society Cooperation

International networking has helped CUTS get closer to NGOs from around the world. CUTS realised that while there was much similarity in developmental and governance issues in poor countries in Asia and Africa, there was no platform to debate, discuss and learn from each other’s experiences.

CUTS decided to campaign against trade linkages with non-trade issues, such as labour, human rights, environment, etc., at the WTO. A statement: “Third World Intellectuals and NGOs Statement Against Linkages” was prepared by the noted economist and chairman of the CUTS trade centre’s advisory body, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati. It was widely circulated among the global trade and development community. CUTS received support in its endeavour to place development at the heart of the debate on international trade. This issue is coming up again in a new avatar of ‘carbon tax’ as part of the trade and climate change debate. Many in the consumer movement in the North started accepting CUTS’ position and converted. Most importantly, CUTS received overwhelming support from many governments and NGOs in Africa and Asia.

An important lesson was drawn from the campaign. There was a lack of collective voice in Africa to articulate civil society’s concerns on trade and economic issues, and there was hardly any African organisation that could take the lead in getting those voices together and placing them at appropriate levels.

The first African Centre of CUTS opened in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2000 and a second in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2002. The third African Centre was launched by the Ghanaian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hanna S Tetteh in Accra, Ghana, in August 2013. By establishing its third Centre, CUTS further strengthened its approach to promoting South-South cooperation on trade and development and strengthened the long-term capacity of non-state and state actors in the region to address socio-economic and developmental challenges. With three centres, CUTS covers Southern, Eastern and Western Africa intensely.

Raising New Generation Consumer Issues

Analysing the privatisation experience of various sectors and countries, CUTS realised that consumers are, more often than not, at the receiving end, and there was a need for a functional competition policy for effective regulation. Secondly, through its work on trade issues, it realised that international trade could be a more effective means for development if other flanking policies are given due importance; human capital enhancement and competition and regulation are among the most important. Through its work on competition policy and regulatory reforms, CUTS established that consumer welfare is as important as an objective of economic reforms as enhancement of economic efficiency is.

In the mid-90s, CUTS started advocating for dismantling the then-Indian Competition Law, as it was not in tune with facing new challenges and succeeded in the enactment of a modern Competition Law in 2002. Various governments and regulatory bodies in other countries noticed its work on competition and regulatory issues in India. Applying its experience of working on institutional and governance issues for developing a functional competition and regulatory regime in India, CUTS replicated the model in various countries of Africa and Asia.

The multi-country 7Up model was the most popular mode. The model’s critical difference between similar projects was that the CUTS approach was bottom-up, emphasising creating local ownership and capacities and comparing it with other countries. Many southern governments also appointed CUTS as their advisers in this area.

While working on competition and regulatory issues in those countries, CUTS realized a significant difference between countries in the Greater Mekong region and others. CUTS decided to work on trade, regulatory and consumer protection issues in the Greater Mekong region in a more focused manner by setting up a centre in Hanoi.

Through its work on the political economy of economic governance in India and other countries, CUTS understands that governance is at the core of economic development and enhancement of consumer interest. This reflection is manifested in CUTS’ work on governance issues at the grassroots, particularly in the state of Rajasthan. It empowers citizens to use tools such as the RTI Act to extract maximum benefits from governmental welfare schemes such as the MGNREGA of India. The World Bank and others have used the expertise built up by CUTS on social accountability to build capacities of NGOs in other countries of Asia and Africa.

Consolidating Southern Voices

Since the early 90s, CUTS has been working on global issues and challenges through their manifestation in trade and economic regulation and its work at the grassroots. Its position and advocacy were based on analyses of ground realities. This has been accomplished through various means, such as representation at the Informal NGO Advisory Body to the WTO Director General, and the two UNCTAD’s Inter-Governmental Group of Experts on Competition Policy and Consumer Protection.

Since the early part of this decade, there has been a perceptible demand on the part of many southern governments for CUTS to get into the centre of the debate by providing a more continuous and institutional mechanism for southern voices on diverse issues in trade and economic regulation.

This recognition led the US-based Hewlett Foundation to propose to CUTS to establish its centre in Geneva. This was a great honour to us when a donor approached us to expand our activities.

CUTS is bridging the gap between the core and the periphery through its work in and out of Geneva. It has facilitated informal fora of Geneva-based government officials of many southern countries to discuss and place collective voices of their concerns.

Triumphing Over Obstacles

Pradeep and CUTS have faced their share of challenges as a leaders in India’s economic policy scenario. Sharing an instance where his team’s resilience and ingenuity triumphed over adversity, Pradeep says the judiciary often arises at judgments which adversely impact the Indian economy, such as the cancellation of licenses in coal mines or telecom spectrum, which could have been dealt with comprehensively and constitutionally to ensure holistic justice, or in matters of environment vs livelihoods.

Pradeep states, “We had proposed a study to NITI Aayog to do studies of six such cases handled under the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction and the National Green Tribunal. The offer was rejected because there was a feeling that it might offend the judiciary.”

Fortunately, the Prime Minister of India, also the chair of NITI Aayog, had voiced his concern on such irrational orders and suggested the need for better approaches.”

We asked for a renewed presentation to the NITI AAYOG, which was successful. A  project was awarded to do the study.”

Soon after the completion of the study, the NITI management changed, and the completed study was not uploaded onto the NITI website. However, the study was uploaded to CUTS’s website,, and reached many readers. It was referred to in many press articles.

The workforce is the cornerstone of any successful organisation. Under Pradeep’s caring and compassionate leadership, CUTS fosters a culture of growth, skill development, and empowerment among its employees. Pradeep says they provide regular skills-building programmes and encourage youngsters to go for higher studies. However, many youngsters do not stay for long due to several reasons: higher studies; marriage; problems at home and looking for better opportunities. Gen Z is a very mobile generation without any commitments, including in their marriages. Therefore, CUTS follows a recruitment policy all the time. However, the good news is that many staff revert to CUTS after experiencing other jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped economies globally. Also, continuously escalating geopolitical scenarios are adding to the unpredictability. By advocating for better health care regimes in the country and resilience in economic governance and regulation, CUTS made contingency plans for similar uncertain events in the future. “At the grassroots levels in southern Rajasthan, we have motivated many volunteers, particularly women, to support the community, including fabricating masks, etc.,” shares Pradeep.

Consumer Welfare—Raison D’être 

Businesses are a way for the Indian industry to pace its economic potential and capacity. In his advice to other budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the advocacy space, Pradeep says, “Explore vacuum and particularly unmet needs, where one can gain the first mover advantage. Subsequently, innovate constantly and ensure quality performance to stay ahead in the race. Create effective and dynamic communication channels with donors (customers), people and employees to achieve the best.”

Historically, 40 years is too short to make a discernible mark. CUTS has started making its footprints in economic governance with ‘consumer welfare’ as its raison d’être.

In about four decades, CUTS has helped the consumer-citizens of the world to demand their rights and fulfil their responsibilities. “We will continue our crusade to establish that consumer interest is synonymous to not just national interest but in the interest of global welfare too,” says Pradeep.

CUTS understands that, as opposed to political and social institutions, economic institutions are relatively quick to change. It will continue to challenge the functioning of economic institutions and, through that work, challenge political and social institutions to make this world a better place to live in.

Creating a Truly Democratic Future

In the future, CUTS will refine its strengths to scale up its work, seeking high impact, simultaneously enabling civil society groups to be effective advocates in trade, regulation and governance, and assisting governments. “That is how we have envisioned our journey for the next ten years, i.e. a time frame of 50 years since CUTS began in 1983-84. “The future leaders of CUTS will take forward their vision to 2084 when it completes a century,” adds Pradeep.

Looking to 2024, Pradeep has a significant vision for CUTS. He aspires to continue making a significant impact on Global South’s transformational future landscape by pushing for better competitiveness through regulatory reforms. With a focus on India, he says: “We envision creating more jobs and job creators and working on various policies that can lead to India becoming a $5tn economy in 2024 and a $30tn economy by 2047 when India celebrates a century of its independence from the British,” concludes Pradeep.

Praise from Global and National Leaders


Finding the balance between needs and challenges has always been key to the success of CUTS, an international NGO with offices in six countries and activities all around the world. Two decades ago, no one would have imagined CUTS where it is now. But thanks to continuous high-quality research and effective networking and advocacy, CUTS has grown into a highly respected and internationally recognised outfit. The WTO too has benefited from CUTS’ knowledge of the trade challenges and limited capacity of developing countries.

Pascal Lamy, former Director General, WTO

CUTS has been sending my organisation various publications about subjects that I started to understand. I became courageous to comment on policies of WTO, globalisation, TRIPs and its impact on consumers. CUTS is one organisation that always wakes me up to see new things from an international perspective. Besides deepening what CUTS has done, it should also strengthen the capacity of other consumer organisations. And the most important thing is how CUTS could use its research and advocacy for the benefit of India and other developing countries in general

lndah Suksmaningsih, former Executive Director, Institute for Global Justice, Indonesia

The short-term pain that we have to bear in our bid to overcome the challenges of regional integration would lead to long-term gains for everyone…We welcome the opening of the CUTS Centre in Accra and look forward to its active participation in providing research support to Ghana and the West African region on critical economic policy issues.

Hanna S Tetteh, Ghanaian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, currently USG, United Nations, Addis Ababa

I can confirm that many delegations from developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) in Geneva found CUTS an invaluable partner with their publications, especially about trade and regulatory issues. The work done by CUTS in many countries is very much appreciated not only by recipient countries but even by cooperating partners, who have funded some projects that CUTS has identified.

Love Mtesa, former Zambian Ambassador to the WTO 

CUTS is the first NGO to have stepped out of its boundaries to work in a poor country in Africa to extend its knowledge and experience in economic policy issues as an ‘appropriate technology.

George Lipimile, former Executive Director, COMESA Competition Commission, Malawi

CUTS has moved beyond the national arena in India to establish a presence elsewhere and work across countries; and it has done so thematically, by selecting topics (competition policy, government procurement, energy policy) that other research and activist institutions have not arrived at in the same manner of effectiveness as yet.

Rohinton P Medhora, President, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Waterloo, Canada, USA

CUTS’ work on advocacy, sensitisation and networking has gone a long way in influencing other research institutions in the region to emulate and set higher standards. All this has been possible for CUTS essentially due to the 30-year exemplary leadership of Pradeep S Mehta, who is a champion of consumer rights and an iconic figure in the region.

Saman Kalegama, Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies, Sri Lanka

The growth of CUTS from an India-focussed NGO to one that supports the global South has been remarkably impressive. It is the most important platform for trade and development policy discussion for it maintains a substantial network of researchers and practitioners.

Valentine Rugwabiza, Deputy Director General, WTO (2005-2013), Geneva

The range of activities and rapid growth of CUTS has been remarkable and impressive as it has evolved into the only international NGO emanating from the South that I know of. It does so, by continuing to engage internationally recognised experts and deepening its in-house capacity.

R Shyam Khemani, Principal, MiCRA, Washington DC


I have great respect for CUTS and its founding spirit and mentor, Pradeep S Mehta who has demonstrated that funds will not constrain genuine enterprise, when it comes to social entrepreneurship, a prime example of which CUTS represents.

T K Arun, Editor – Opinion, The Economic Times, New Delhi

I joined CUTS in September 2000 as a Research Assistant- straight after college. Little did I know that the place where I had come only to begin my career, would play such a vital role in shaping my personality and hence, in turn, my life! Here, I achieved a remarkable growth. All thanks to Pradeep Mehta – his continuous guidance and never-ending faith in his team. The exposure and opportunities extended to a newcomer are almost impossible to comprehend.

Anjali Bansal

I am fortunate to be introduced to the work of CUTS by Pradeep S Mehta. I am a recent addition to the long list of admirers of CUTS. The issues relating to regulation and competition have been of special interest to me. I got immensely benefitted from debates in CUTS relating to the financial sector and public utilities. Providing multiple perspectives is the special strength of CUTS’ forum. Candour is its hallmark in-depth knowledge pervades most of what is exchanged in CUTS. Above all, its contribution to debates on public policies in India is palpable. I have a few suggestions to make.

Y Venugopal Reddy, Chairman, 14th Finance Commission of India

In arriving at public policy there is a need for an informed discussion of issues. For historical reasons, this has been a government or quasi-government domain in our country. It is not so as edifying results are there to see. CUTS has been a distinct NGO working on consumer issues and its research on competition and international trade has been simply outstanding.

Rahul Bajaj, CMD, Bajaj Auto Ltd, Pune

The spectrum of work of CUTS covers a large number of issues, which impact the common man across geographies. In fact, to my knowledge, it is a rare Indian NGO, which has its centres in Geneva, Lusaka, Nairobi, Accra and Hanoi with an emphasis on South-South Cooperation. Kudos to its dynamic founder and Secretary General, Pradeep Mehta. We, in Rajasthan, are proud of Pradeep and CUTS and convey our best wishes for many more years of evidence-based activism, so that the world can become a better place to live in.

Kailash Meghwal, Speaker, Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, 2014

Pradeep Singh Mehta. An international personality, a famous consumer activist and economist, and most importantly an equanimous person. With a positive-minded philosophy a well-rounded person. He gave me a life lesson when I was in school, also on a 15-paise worth postcard, that “if none will come with you, then go alone” (quoting Tagore),  that I was able to get a transformer installed in my village. That changed my self and the direction that I took in pursuing a life with public welfare as my talisman.

Mahendra Singh Shekhawat, District Sanitation Officer, Bikaner. He was rewarded by the Prime Minister of India for having created an Open Defecation Free District in Bikaner in 2016.

CUTS is working both as a grassroots voluntary organisation and also as a professional organisation doing advocacy work at the national and international levels. As per Pradeep, in the years ahead, it has to retain the vitality of the field organisation and also further develop its growing expertise as a professional consumer advocacy organisation at the national and international level. We are living in rapidly changing times where attitudes, work processes and technologies are all in a melting pot. CUTS has to develop and nurture its personnel further to face future challenges with courage and confidence and to take the organisation to new heights.

M L Mehta, former Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan and President, Executive Committee, CUTS International.

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