Safeguarding Rural Consumers

The exchange of goods and services makes one person the seller and the other a buyer or consumer. Now, when we talk about the rural consumers which actually constitutes to 70 percent of India’s population and which actually accounts for more than half of the consumption of India. There arises a question. Are these rural consumers safe from exploitation or cheat? Do they actually have the idea that there exists an act named The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 which enables to solve the grievances of the consumers through a speedy redressal? And even if they know about it, do they actually avail the rights when required?

Talking in the context of today’s era it is clear to us that the buying preference of the rural consumer is changing at a greater pace. As per the facts, it has been derived that the monthly per capita spending among rural consumers has increased by 17% between FY10 and FY12, higher than the 12% rise among urban consumers. Hence, the disposable incomes also hiked up and fuelled aspirations and that resulted in a change in buying preference. It was also seen that the spending on non-food items rose from 40% of total spend in FY 2005 to more than 50% in FY2012.

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In terms of economic output; rural India accounts for 48 percent of the country’s economy and the rural markets have the potential to reach $500 billion by 2020. The transformation of Indian economy into a vibrant growing consumer market. Research reports of National Commission for Applied Economics Research have revealed that the rural growth rates have already outpaced urban ones and will continue to do so through the next decade. Out of 62.97 million households of India that are getting more than 5 lakh per annum, nearly 28.68 million household live in rural India. Hence with such a large consumer base, rural consumers must be aware of their rights and protection.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 seeks to provide better protection of the interests of the consumers. A complaint can be filed on a plain paper in any consumer court. It should contain the name description and address of the complainant and the opposite party. The act also talks about a term “Caveat Emptor” which is a Latin word for Buyer Beware which means that the buyer is responsible for the safety of goods purchased by him or her. The Act mandates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at Centre, State, and District. There are also separate Consumer District Redressal Forums being set up to address the grievances. The basic problem is Laws and Acts also exists but the functioning of it depends upon the consumer awareness.