According to the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the consumer right is referred to as ‘right to be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property’.It is applicable to specific areas like healthcare, pharmaceuticals.
The right to information is defined as ‘the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices’ in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
Consumerism is a social as well as economic order which encourages the buying of goods and services in ever-greater amounts. This term is sometimes associated with critics of consumption beginning with Thorstein Veblen. Veblen's topic of examination.
Right to Basic Needs & Safe Environment
The countries in their developmental phases require strict following of the two rights namely the Right to Basic Needs & Safe Environment play crucial role in the lives of common masses due to their link with the realities of life in the context of environment and other resources concerned. They are pivotal because they offer best of the support system to the common masses. When taken into the Indian context it is well understood why such rights are important due to ample masses here seeking for food security besides other basic needs like being provided safe water supplies to sheltering and last but not the least health and education related needs. It is worth noting that not everybody in the Indian subcontinent has access to the imported goods which supermarkets stake to help to make good choice of items like the cases of latest car models. It is easily monitored in the developed world where every item is carefully analyzed. In fact more pressing need in India is safe environment and food security for the population of more than 1 billion here instead of rest consumer options or rights they have. As it is well analyzed the natural resources of developing countries remain major resource base for the developed world to have its industrial output run smooth.
Right to Basic Needs
Any consumer’s life solely depends on easy access to food, water and shelter as basic needs. It is impossible to think of life’s existence in the absence of such fundamental amenities. It is strange that in September 2001 India had ample foodgrain stock of approximately 60 million tons stillone third of the population in the country had to lead life below the poverty line. In fact large chunk of masses still sleep hungry and so are the cases of severemalnourishment which cause poor health condition.
One can take into consideration the recent starvation deaths in Orissa as notable examples. The key objective behind the establishment of consumer rights forum is to ascertain that every consumer must have the required supply of food besides secure permanent hometo easy access to life’s basic amenities which include sanitation, power supply and potable water facility. Undoubtedly the fast urbanizationsheld everywhere is considered an indication of development but all those poor masses migrating to the cities from rural areas indeed face worst living conditions as city’s poor.
There is a trend of rapid growth if the urban population since 1988 now. According to estimations urban poor percentage has gone higher than the rural poor population. As estimations describe approximately 20 to 25% urban households are forced to spend life in the slum areas where their colonies are just makeshifts as if refugee settlements they stay into. They hardly avail any affordable but decent living space in the urban areas they live.
Estimates further describe that there still remains the shortage of 17 million units in mere urban areas. That remains major reason of the habitat crisis in cities in India. If rural areas are taken into account then we see that here as well the situation is equally worsening because amp-le population here still lives into temporary settlements as hutments where they stay. It is obvious that lack of running water and electricity supply would be there in the non-permanent housing areas where hardly would be any sanitation facility. Both urban and rural areas still have the big challenge of having no access to the dry toilets.
Food Security for Consumers
When the example of starvation deaths of poor masses in the Orissa state in August 2001 are taken into account it is well understood that food security remains myth in the Indian context even to this day. The Government of India started the Public Distribution System (PDS) to solve this food scarcity problemwith an aim to support the poorest by providing them foodgrains in cheaper rates under the provision of subsidized prices which ‘Fair Price Shops' of the government run. The government of India runs nearly 4.5 lakh Fair Price Shops in different parts of the country today out of which those in the rural areas number to 3.05 while urban areas consist of 0.94 from the total shops operated.
Every 2000 consumer therefore have average access to at least 1 PDS in the county. The case of food shortage still remains a big issue in several parts of the country. India has also faced its artificially created food scarcities due to poor distribution and under-utilisation of food grains. At present approximately 60 million ton of foodgrains remain buffer stocks in several places. Improper storage facilities and lack of systematic utilization causes the rotting of large foodgrain stocks. An ardent need today is proper channelization of such stocks towards the needy people through providing them most suitable ‘food for work' programs which can offer dual benefit if funds and employment opportunities. Other key factors are ensuring that their remains easy and enough accessibility of food every time and there is complete care about nutrition values to ensure that children’s health and hygiene is maintained to avoid further vulnerabilities. It is an important aspect that requires special attention to ensure people are made responsible and so are they provided quality food supply as basic needs of life.
Right to Safe Environment
Limitations of urban lifestyle are that urban people find in the parks, gardensand deteriorating air or water quality their share of environment. In fact large chunk of urban areas hardly have required number of wildlife hence masses are not abreast of the biodiversity which they could have thereby. On contrary the masses in rural areas fulfill their basic needs from the local environment itself.
One of the necessary defenses against the fast worsening quality of life around the world is through the conservation of environment. Everybody remains the victim of food contamination to issues like problems related to water supply to pesticide-ridden foods and adulteration in milk to last but not the least exhausting fumes from the vehicles that literally create choking atmosphere.
The World Bank reportsheds light on the environmental costs which push India backwards. Mere air water pollution in the country causes the loss of Rs. 24,500 crores every year annually. You may have encountered the water pollution issues at anytime in your life if you have been a city’s inhabitant. It can be best assessed through cases of children often falling ill because of environmental pollution cases which otherwiseincreasehealthcare related costs.Polluted environment & living conditions can damage valuable resources to man-days besides worsening living conditions in the societies. It is a must to know that safe environment is the only resource for better living and to ensure consumer rightsfulfillments.
Keen observation nearby our areas indicates how our immediate surroundings are polluted due to our own misdeeds. Our living standards and steps to cause damage to environment through various types of pollution are the matters of great concern. Take for example different monthly purchases we do from washing detergents to toilet cleaning acids to numerous chemicals besides pre-packaged food stuffs whose non-biodegradable packaging cause health hazards. They have direct effect on the environment in the form of water &soil pollution to waste disposal problems and rest issues. Some more factors include consumption patterns of common masses having direct link with environmentdamages. They are outcomes of irresponsible human behaviors.