Post by RK News on Monday, February 6, 2023
As globalization makes markets competitive and ideas like ‘buyers market’, ‘customer is the king’ are being promoted by corporates, things on ground seem to be quite contrary when it comes to consumer rights in Kashmir. No doubt free markets have brought greater choice of products and brands and reduced costs in many areas but the question remains as to whether it has increased quality consciousness among consumers. The departments concerned with the consumer rights have been in deep slumber for many years now caring least for consumer grievances, particularly pertaining to prices applicable to essential commodities and goods of daily use. The department of Department Of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs (FCSCA) is responsible for monitoring the observance of price structure set by the government by traders and businesses alike. Unfortunately the department has failed to live up to the expectations of the general masses when it comes to simple things like adherence to price lists, quality control and increasing the awareness among consumers. An ordinary consumer in the valley ends up paying the demanded price. Even goods like apparels and other consumables have been left to market forces that determine the price. A price tag attached by a shopkeeper becomes the command price for an ordinary consumer in Kashmir, be it an urban, semi urban or remote area. The situation is much worse in rural areas where people get cheated not only in terms of price but the quality of goods and commodities available. Traders sell product duplicates that have a slight change in name and appearance to rural populace which defeats the whole purpose of free markets and availability of quality products to customers. With food items quality assumes much more significance. The government and the civil society need to evolve a mechanism for passing on information to consumers on food items that are being sold in markets across Kashmir. It needs to be ascertained that the street food available is good for the health of masses. Children need to be targeted specifically. A campaign for educating children at schools and homes for choosing healthy foods for them will have a considerable impact. Moreover information material regarding consumer rights needs to be distributed among consumers using both the traditional and the latest communication methods. Consumer organizations, whatever little we have here, have done little to educate consumers about their rights and the means to address problems. At the end of the day every person is a consumer, no matter what his age, gender or occupation is.