Surendra U. Kanstiya
Consumers Guidance Society of India
My association with CUTS dates back to 1986 (10th November 1986, to be precise) when I met Mr. Pradeep Mehta of CUTS at the ‘National Conference on Quality’ at New Delhi. I was there to represent Consumer Association, Falna (now defunct). Since in 1986 there were only five or six voluntary consumer organisations in the State of Rajasthan, we discussed about spreading consumer movement in Rajasthan. Various informative circulars followed on consumer protection issues from CUTS (the first one, which I received was on 18th March 1987). However my major encounter with the CUTS team was in January 1994 when I attended the Training Workshop for Young Consumer Leaders (TWYCL) organised by CUTS jointly with the International Organisation for Consumer Unions (now Consumers International) at Calcutta. I represented Consumer Guidance Society of India at TWYCL and I would like to add that the TWYCL organised by CUTS gave a ‘big push’ to the consumer activist in me.
Thereafter, I have attended various programmes on consumer protection organised by different consumer organisations but those organised by CUTS are certainly a ‘cut above the rest’. Whereas other organisations gave me education, CUTS gave me the training; the other organisations gave me knowledge, CUTS gave me the wisdom.
As an organisation, CUTS’ growth has been phenomenal. It is a role model for other voluntary organisations. CUTS is one of those few organisations in the world, working at the local, national and global level with efficiency and effectiveness and thereby providing direct assistance to an individual citizen by guiding him and indirect assistance to the citizens at large by influencing the policymakers and producers to work for consumer welfare.
The consumer movement has witnessed a major shift in the recent past. Issues like adulteration or excessive pricing or defective services appear to be petty ones as compared to the unfair business practices like dumping or cartels. Producers have also realised that the consumer is fully aware about her rights. However the new economic order is posing bigger challenges. The detection of unfair business practices followed by trans-national corporations needs detailed research and advocacy on one hand and education of consumers and the government agencies on the other. Though CUTS has already commenced working on these issues, the challenge appears to be becoming bigger rapidly and therefore CUTS team’s wisdom will have to keep pace with the producers’/service providers’ ingenuity.
As a token of my appreciation, I am sending a cheque of Rs. 20,000 as donation. Thank god, it is not its fiftieth year, but by that time, Rs. 50,000 will be much less than Rs. 20,000 of today!