Posts Tagged 'Opinion'

Consumer Rights Awareness II

My last post about consumer rights invited a lot of debate and criticism. Some of it justified, it is these justified thoughts I will handle in this post.

The last post was only a build up on consumer rights awareness, I had given an example of an experience that we all face with credit cards. I gave a possible solution that, possibly, we are not aware of. Think of it, we are privileged in the sense we have access to useful information something that is not as easy to someone who lives in rural areas. Most of them are not aware of their consumer rights. (Yes, Right to Information Act has not penetrated yet.)

Let’s take a rural example I read in The Telegraph. India is supposedly agriculture-based countries, yet we witnessed a sad phase of farmer suicides in the recent past. Farmers rarely file cases in consumer courts for their defective seeds, fertilizers, or pesticides, but when they do, it is on priority as it is about their livelihood. Justice was delivered to them by consumer courts in 14 long years! No prizes for guessing that they must have withered away long before justice arrived at their doorstep.

Imagine if Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was well known and well exercised, it would have been implemented as a fast and inexpensive method just as it was envisioned, and then it would have made a hell lot of difference to these farmers. The consumer courts have huge backlogs. Recently Supreme Court ordered the consumer court to award 10, 000/- to each complainant to whom justice was not delivered in the stipulated time of 90 days. (To be honest, I don’t think it worked.) I think it is also not working because people who choose to exercise this right are very few. Very few voices are raised and heard on the issue.

Granted farmers are not going to read this blog, but we can perhaps campaign online about speedy priority-based trials on free web sites such as petition online. There have been some individuals who have raised a voice and set a precedent. Someone won a court case that gave way to the judgment that mental agony faced by the consumer needs to be compensated as well. Thank that individual who laid that precedent for others to reap the benefits. We need more such individuals who set such precedents. Complaining/suing may not stop a company to swindle its consumers but they will think twice to do it next time.

For me, awareness about consumer rights is the first step. There will always be need for new laws, but if we don not exercise the existing ones, we would not be sure what we want in new laws to make them succeed. If we complain we are too busy to campaign, I do not think any new law can help and protect our rights as a consumer.

Jaago Grahak Jaago

Jaago Grahak Jaago

Last but not least, my friend Ramesh, who being a management graduate has a business perspective in mind, shared his candid perspective on the issue. He argues that awareness about consumer rights could be first step in cure of the consumer maladies but where is the protection to these maladies? Why do companies swindle their consumers in the first place—is it money or resource crunch, or our government policies toward these companies? Click Consumer Issues-Other Perspective to read more about what he wrote.

Though the vocal consumer in me did not agree with his viewpoint, but I was forced to think about it. Perhaps he has a point. Few government rebates to companies that meet consumer satisfaction may result in better consumer service.

But then I read about this documentary called The Whistle Blowers at Hindu. It raised a point as said by the documenatry makers: “Our stand is when they can provide zero-pesticide drinks in Europe, why can’t they do it in India when they have the resources.” I refuse to believe that if these companies would provide pesticide-free water in our country, they would cease to make profits.

Accountability to Consumers

Accountability to Consumers?

What do you think? Is it possible to expect accounbtability of the corporates to the consumers?

Faded Lights at Indian Idol

Yesterday I tried to watch Indian Idol 3 without my favorite contestant, Ankita. I failed. I did not find a glimpse of that spark I was looking for. 😦

I was working and writing, while Indian Idol 3 show ran in background. A good decision in hindsight, all these remaining contestants had only audio performances, which my disappointed self tried best to soak in while working. I missed better part of the show, later when I did tune, I noted that judges, for a change, liked all the performance of each contestants. 😮 Looks like that judges, in their hearts, didn’t care any more about who won. Alisha easily switched sides to call Emon (or was it Amit?) her Indian Idol. I thought Chang was her Indian Idol! 😛

I heard today on news that Emon was out. It was inevitable. Amit is good, as I said he was my second best favorite. But unlike Ankita, he required the anchor Hussain and his two other co-contestants to dance a “twist” on his tunes to make it visually appealing. And as for Prashant, he is good as well but looks like it is going to be difficult to vote him out.

AmitPrashant

Who will win Indian Idol? Amit or Prashant?

Uh huh, do not think that I advocate Prashant to be out. But I figure, from past experiences when good contenders like Amit Sana and Karunya have lost dues to lack of popularity, that this maybe a problem for Amit. I have one more reason to fear that Prashant may win despite Amit’s melodious performances.

This other reason for my fear is a disgusting blog that I stumbled upon while surfing the Web. This blog is intended to garner votes and support for Prashant Tamang. But the reason I call it disgusting and objectionable because it breeds hatred on grounds of regionalism (and skin color!). Check out these two posts to see what I mean: Click here and here. The writer of the blog has no compunctions in calling jury biased against Prashant Tamang. This blog also maligns other contestants. 😦 I agree that Indian Idol judges are not above human error always, but to accuse them of being biased because Prashant is Nepali is grossly unfair.

Indian Idol fans, if you vote, vote judiciously. May the best win, not because they belong to a particular region.

P.S: On second thoughts, I think I did disservice by promoting this objectionable blog in my post. But I strongly wanted to raise my voice against regionalism that breeds hate. There is nothing wrong with garnering votes for your favorite contestant, but it is unfair to paint other people in the same colors of bias.

Why I Blog?

Unbeknownest to me, I had chosen settings for my blog that allowed only logged-in wordpress bloggers to comment. It resulted in some people (mostly friends and acquaintances) calling and emailing me their feedback on my individual posts.

Of such harassed people, one of them is a close friend, who after having a long day at work, actively calls me late in the night to tell me, “You bloggers are so selfish. 😮 You write about issues that can not be resolved. Crying hoarse about bigger issues like reservations that require drastic policy changes is futile. Your own email signature (he is referring to my gmail signature) goes like this “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.” Why don’t you follow the same? Why not write about issues that might be actually won with individual efforts?

How does it help to write reviews or opinions about frivolous issues like books, movies and so on?” And so he went on to give me few suggestions about subjects that I should address in my blog. 😦

But I thought I should put my side of story here 8) that I never got a chance to explain before.

It is a misconstrued notion that all blog posts need to have a cause, to make a difference or a deep impact. I might write in the tone of an activist about few issues that I feel strongly about, but the truth remains I do not always write a post for the sake of activism. I am a thinking, responsible Indian citizen who has her own personal views on various issues.

But I am also an individual who writes her blog to express and communicate my thoughts on my various interests and hobbies. For me, blogging is a medium of communication and expression. Sometimes, my blog is simply a personal journal that I want to share with world. If I read a great book or watched a movie that deeply impacted me, I would certainly want to tell few like-minded people about it. Why should my need for expression be termed selfish?

As for activism, sometimes it is just not important if the issue was big or small to win. Speaking out is all that matters. A famous poem by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) explicates it aptly:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

If I do not speak for others, for fear that nothing will happen, no one will come to speak for me so that something can happen.


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