Jago Grahak Jago

Jago Grahak Jago Logo

December 2023

Amazon expands its consumer awareness campaign to North East with radio initiatives

Amazon India, announced on Wednesday, that it is expanding its consumer awareness campaign to the North Eastern states. The campaign titled “Mission GraHAQ” is a part of the company’s ongoing efforts to educate and empower consumers about online shopping and help build a trustworthy and safe experience for digital shoppers, Amazon said in a statement. “With this initiative, Amazon aims to proactively inform and educate consumers in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura about safe online shopping and reiterate its commitment to protecting consumers from bad actors,” the statement added. Amazon will reportedly be producing interactive radio programmes broadcasted three times a week on All India Radio (AIR), across 29 radio stations in the North East region. These broadcasts will be delivered in nine local languages most spoken in the region, ensuring accessibility and understanding. Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food And Public Distribution, lauded Amazon India for its proactive measures in enhancing consumer awareness regarding their rights and safety in online shopping. “Utilising radio broadcasts and delivering messages in local languages will empower consumers to fully comprehend the nuances of online shopping, fostering a deeper understanding of critical elements such as product information, online payments, grievance redressal, and consumer responsibilities,” he said. Chetan Krishnaswamy, Vice President of Public Policy at Amazon India, underlined the company’s unwavering dedication to providing a trustworthy and safe online shopping experience. “The Mission GraHAQ campaign embodies our commitment to educate consumers about their rights and empower them to make well-informed purchase decisions.” The three-month-long campaign, which began on October 31, is said to air radio spots in languages including Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Nagamese, Garo, Khasi, Nepali, Manipuri, and Mizo. These radio spots, a joint effort between Amazon and AIR, is also expected to cover various themes such as consumer rights, choice, available redressal mechanisms, and safe online shopping. Launched in 2022, the “Mission GraHAQ” campaign, according to Amazon, has already reached hundreds of thousands of consumers in over 100 cities across six states. Amazon India’s innovative approach, including street plays in local languages, has been instrumental in spreading information about trustworthy online shopping practices, the company added. Nov 01,2023 Source: CNBCTV18

Amazon expands its consumer awareness campaign to North East with radio initiatives Read More »

‘Empowering consumers: Understanding rights, safeguarding interests’

When making a purchase, most people primarily focus on whether the price fits their budget, often neglecting other crucial considerations such as durability or expiry dates. This tendency marks the starting point of consumer awareness. Consumers frequently face exploitation from traders who provide incomplete or incorrect information, manipulate weights, overcharge, or sell substandard goods. These practices can harm customers not just financially but also pose health risks and mental stress. In today’s competitive, globalized landscape, manufacturers prioritize profit maximization, often resorting to aggressive and misleading advertising that disregards consumer interests. Therefore, it becomes crucial for consumers to be well-informed about the products or services they purchase, safeguarding their interests by understanding their rights, checking product details, scrutinizing legal documents before signing, and taking precautions, especially in significant purchases like property. For items like groceries and food products, checking manufacturing and expiry dates and the contents list becomes imperative to avoid health hazards like food poisoning. Understanding consumer rights in the realm of services is equally complex. Many are unaware of their rights, leading to instances where hospitals or financial entities manipulate individuals into signing incomprehensible forms, later using these as evidence of consent, much to the detriment of the consumer. Major Legislations for Consumer Protection in India  Consumer protection, however, is not a new concept. It has historical roots, dating back to ancient texts that emphasized regulating trade and safeguarding consumer interests. In modern India, the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was a significant step, providing clauses for consumer protection in both goods and services. Amendments to this act are underway, highlighting the government’s continued efforts to strengthen consumer protection, as seen in the upcoming Consumer Protection Bill. Moreover, the government has introduced standards and measures such as ISI marks, Hallmarks for jewelry, and RERA for real estate, aiming to shield consumers from malpractices. Government initiatives like DBT and Ujjawala also aim to protect citizens from falling victim to fraudulent schemes. However, while the government implements schemes, consumers must also familiarize themselves with available grievance redressal mechanisms. Consumer redressal mechanisms, integrated into the Consumer Protection Act, include forums like lok adalats, district and national consumer dispute redressal authorities, where consumers can seek redressal for grievances. Ultimately, while the government takes steps to protect consumers, individuals must actively engage with protection mechanisms and exercise their rights when purchasing goods or services. Consumer protection is a shared responsibility, and individuals must take an active role in safeguarding their interests. Nov 30,2023 Source: Times Of India

‘Empowering consumers: Understanding rights, safeguarding interests’ Read More »

‘No data’ and other tactics: How the government is dodging RTI queries on health pacts with Big Tech

In April last year, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, and Microsoft India announced a collaborative project on remote healthcare. In February, the central health ministry’s telemedicine platform e-Sanjeevani, hosted on the Amazon Web Services’ cloud, reported having served 10 crore patients. Tamil Nadu, meanwhile, has partnered with Google for its Population Health Registry, aimed at creating a comprehensive health database of the state’s population. These are all agreements involving technology behemoths, public resources, taxpayer money, sensitive health data and critical services that serve all Indians. Yet, the fine print of these collaborations is not available in the public domain. The authors of this article found that the government stonewalled Right to Information queries seeking information on contracts between public authorities and private technology companies on digital health initiatives. Though the Right to Information Act as well as the judiciary have emphasised transparency, public authorities employed a range of tactics to refuse data from claiming that it was “personal information” to transferring and disposing of applications. This does not bode well for public health or the public interest. Partnerships with “Big Tech” companies have often sparked data privacy and transparency concerns, such as the misuse of data to profile users or for commercial purposes. There is also the risk of monopolistic practices developing. For example, in 2022, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance noted that the big players with vast repositories of consumer and business data resort to tracking and profiling end users to strengthen their position and prevent new players from entering the market. In 2013, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions issued an order directing public authorities to disclose all information related to public-private partnership contracts under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act. Section 4 deals with the obligations of public authorities. Still, more often than not, public-private partnership contracts are not available in the public domain. In October, the Delhi High Court, while ruling in the case of Prashant Reddy vs CPIO, modified an order passed by the Central Information Commission and directed the Unique Identification Authority of India to disclose its contracts with external organisations to handle grievance redressal under the Aadhaar Act. CPIO refers to the Central Public Information Officer, the public officials who deal with information requests. The court held that “complete transparency” was necessary in the way the contracts had been awarded. Dec 09,2023 Source: Support Scroll

‘No data’ and other tactics: How the government is dodging RTI queries on health pacts with Big Tech Read More »

Remittances: Boosting the impact on poverty reduction through consumer protection

Remittances, a critical lifeline for millions of people in developing economies, reached nearly $800 billion in 2022.  Approximately 80% of these funds, sent by migrants to their home countries, went to low and middle-income nations. This amount, about four times greater than last year’s official development assistance from all advanced economies, highlights the potential role of remittances in poverty reduction. Also, studies show that a 10% increase in international remittances as a share of a country’s GDP can lead to a 1.6% drop in poverty rates. But high transaction costs, averaging around 6.2% globally, greatly reduce their effectiveness. And vulnerable migrants often face exploitation and financial losses in the remittance process. UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan has called for governments to bolster consumer protection for both senders and recipients. Ms. Grynspan said that in our interconnected world, the protection of consumers in financial markets like remittances is “a matter of great importance and urgency”. “These remittances enhance resilience, enable investment in housing and provide stability,” she said on 27 November in her opening statement to an UNCTAD 5 measures to maximize the power of remittances UNCTAD recommends five key consumer protection measures to maximize the poverty-reducing power of remittances: These measures align with the 2015 United Nations guidelines for consumer protection, advocating regulatory oversight and financial education to combat fraud. UNCTAD’s recommendations come at a critical time as the world navigates the complexities of global finance and the increasing digitalization of services. “Thailand needs to accelerate consumer empowerment, and count on cooperation in this area from dialogue partners such as UNCTAD,” said Wimonrat Wim Teriyapirom, director of international cooperation for the country’s Consumer Protection Board. The statement reflects the growing trend of countries working with UNCTAD to safeguard consumer rights in financial services. Nov 29,2023 Source: UNCTAD

Remittances: Boosting the impact on poverty reduction through consumer protection Read More »

Photo ID necessary to buy acid online: consumer protection body

New Delhi: Buying acid from e-commerce platforms will no longer be easy with the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on Wednesday directing all online platforms to make it compulsory for buyers to upload a photo ID issued by the government. The idea is to ensure that acid is not purchased by any individual below the age of 18 years, the government said in an official order. Besides, the CCPA has directed e-commerce players to take separate undertaking from acid sellers prior to onboarding them at their platforms. As per the order, online shopping platforms will now have to ensure the buyer discloses as part of the purchase process, the specific reason to procure acid. CCPA, which is led by Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare, has issued notices on Wednesday to all major e-commerce players after taking note of concerns around consumers’ and citizens’ safety from such unregulated sale of acid, an official statement issued by the authority said. “All e-commerce platforms have been asked to immediately incorporate appropriate mechanism to ensure that acid is not purchased on their platforms in violation to the mandatory requirements of the rules notified by the respective state governments,” the statement said. “A sale will be made only when the buyer produces a photo ID issued by the government having the address of person and proving that he/she is above 18 years of age,” the release said citing CCPA safety guidelines under Section 18(2)(j) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. CCPA, being the watchdog of consumer interest in India, has come across the sale of highly corrosive acids on e-commerce platforms. Availability of hazardous acids in such a freewheeling and easily accessible manner can be dangerous and unsafe for consumers and to public at large, it stated. Consumer safety is among the preambular objectives of the Act as consumer rights defined under Section 2(9) of the law include the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property. The notices have been issued after it was observed that neither there is any requirement to produce photo ID nor there is any manner in which the purpose of buying the acid is recorded by the e-commerce platforms before placing an order, the ministry said. “Further, there is no actual mechanism by which age verification of the buyer takes place before placing the order. Enabling the purchase of acid in such a manner on the e-commerce platform is a clear violation to directions of the Supreme Court of India and the ministry of home affairs advisory, it said. Nov 29,2023 Source: Livemint

Photo ID necessary to buy acid online: consumer protection body Read More »

Piyush Goyal asks industry to buy Indian components in finished goods

New Delhi: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal Thursday asked industry to support each other in buying components made in India in their finished products. He also said that quality control orders (QCO) are not meant to stop imports but ensure whatever comes into the country- domestically produced or from abroad- are both good and high quality, and meet the basic standards of safety and basic needs of consumers. Insisting that quality is non-negotiable, he said: “Some of the products coming from these countries. You are also importing substandard products which go into your goods and cause huge risk to safety of life and property, safety of the consumers. Goyal was speaking at an event organised by the CEAMA. “Don’t compromise on quality ever. Support the Indian ecosystem,” he said. He said that there are times when a product is available in India but some companies including some multinationals prefer to import the same compinentt even though it’s available in India. “If at all there’s a quality issue, support the Indian company to make that high quality product. Support each other. I don’t see why you shouldn’t also be supporting somebody else who manufactures a product in India which you can buy, procure and use in your finished product thereby creating new job opportunities and expanding the ecosystem,” Goyal said. He said that the utensils industy didn’t want QCOs. “I see no reason why we should have suboptimal quality utensils in our homes…it’s been there for three years but when it comes to implementation, these delegations come and shoot from others’ shoulders,” Goyal said. Dec 07,2023 Source: Economic Times

Piyush Goyal asks industry to buy Indian components in finished goods Read More »

Govt launches anganwadi protocol to track, help children with disabilities

New Delhi, The government on Tuesday launched a national protocol to provide for training of anganwadi workers to track and help children with disabilities. This is for the first time that anganwadi workers will spread awareness on the issue, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said. “If we look at it from a community perspective, it is a silent revolution in our community,” she said after the launch of the Anganwadi Protocol for Divyang Children. For the first time, “sisters from anganwadis will spread awareness that disability is not a challenge for society, but an opportunity for society to help a child. The mindset needs to be changed,” Irani said. She said that the National Education Policy-2020 emphasises prioritising integration of divyang students into mainstream schools. “We know 85 per cent of a child’s mental development happens by the age of 6. Today our education system has new provisions for divyang children…,” she said. Irani said grassroots level data about divyang children will become available through anganwadi workers, and the children can be further tracked through the Poshan tracker. The anganwadi eco-system reaches out to over eight crore children from birth to six years on a daily basis, and is a critical access point for building the base of the country’s children, according to a statement issued by the Women and Child Development Ministry. According to the National Education Policy-2020, integration of divyang students into mainstream schools should be prioritized, rather than establish segregated educational institutions. The National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage 2022 further recommends approaches to addressing developmental delays and disability in schools, including advice on signs and symptoms, it said. In pursuance of these approaches, the Poshan Bhi Padhai Bhi programme has adopted the national ECCE Taskforce recommendation for play-based and activity-based learning pedagogy and strongly advocates special and timely support for divyang children, the statement said. According to the Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) (2021), one-third of most disabilities in India are estimated to be preventable, if they are detected early enough and adequately addressed. Through the ‘Poshan Bhi Padhai Bhi’s’ targeted focus on strengthening the foundation for India’s future generations, 13.9 lakh anganwadi centres will be up-skilled to adopt a multi-sensory and toy-based approach to address the different needs of children. Nov 28,2023 Source: Economic Times

Govt launches anganwadi protocol to track, help children with disabilities Read More »

Trai asks Jio, Airtel to clearly state terms of unlimited 5G data packs

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel to clearly state the terms and conditions of their unlimited 5G data offerings to customers. While giving a clean chit to both the operators on the predatory pricing complaint by Vodafone Idea, the regulator has concluded that the tariffs are not below costs as alleged by Vodafone Idea, officials familiar with the matter told ET. They added that Vodafone Idea itself has been offering unlimited 4G data. Trai’s directive to Jio and Airtel means that both the players can continue to offer unlimited 5G data but would need to explain the terms and conditions in a more elaborate way. Both the telcos have complied and updated their terms and conditions for the tariff plans. Airtel has updated its fair usage policy (FUP) for 5G unlimited data and has specified that commercial usage is considered where data usage is beyond 300 GB in 30 days. “It is clarified and stated that these offers are only meant for personal and non-commercial use, and are not intended for any commercial use, or special or enterprise plans. Airtel reserves the right to end/suspend/modify the offer/services in specific cases of commercial use, or any fraudulent use,” Airtel’s terms and conditions said. Similarly, Reliance Jio has tweaked its terms and conditions around its Jio True 5G unlimited offering. As per Jio, while there are no restrictions on consumption, actual download speeds experience by a user is dependent on multiple factors like device, radio propagation characteristics in various topologies, latency on popular websites, type of mobile applications and operating system installed on a handset, and number of users on a particular cell etc. “All these factors affect the latency, throughput as well as overall user experience and consumption, and most of these issues are beyond the control of TSPs (telecom service providers) and may limit the data usages by a subscriber,” Jio said. Currently, there are no rules that bar a telecom operator from offering unlimited plans, but the tariffs should not be below costs. The telcos also need to explain the terms and conditions to customers. For instance, in case of unlimited data plans, the telcos need to inform customers if the FUP—or unlimited till a certain amount of data after which the speed slows down—is applicable. Both Jio and Airtel have told the regulator that unlimited data does not mean infinity as its usage is limited by speed and network. The two argued that they were not offering anything for free as 5G was being given as part of 4G packs and were charged accordingly. In fact, the cost of providing 1GB of 5G data is much less than that of 4G. The issue around predatory pricing gained prominence in 2016, when Airtel and Vodafone Idea accused Jio of predatory pricing after the new entrant announced promotional plans that gave voice and data for free for months at a stretch. Jio had denied any wrongdoing. The anti-trust body also had then rejected allegations of the incumbent players. Dec 05,2023 Source: Economic Times

Trai asks Jio, Airtel to clearly state terms of unlimited 5G data packs Read More »

Government bans “dark patterns” on ecommerce platforms; notifies guidelines

In order to protect consumers’ interest, the government has banned use of “dark patterns” on e-commerce platforms which intend to deceive customers or manipulate their choices. A gazette notification in this regard as “Guidelines for prevention and regulation of dark patterns ” was issued on November 30 by the Central Consumer Protection Authority(CCPA) which is applicable to all platforms offering goods and services in India, and even advertisers and sellers. Resorting to dark patterns will amount to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights. The penalty will be imposed as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, it added. “In the emerging digital commerce, dark patterns are increasingly being used by the platforms to mislead the consumers by manipulating their buying choices and behaviour, “Consumer Affairs” Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told PTI. The notified guidelines will ensure clarity in the minds of all stakeholders — buyers, sellers, marketplaces and regulators – as to what is not acceptable as unfair trading practices, the latter being liable under the Consumer Protection Act, he added. According to the notification, dark patterns have been defined as any practice or deceptive design pattern using user interface or user experience interactions on any platform that is designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do, by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice. For instance, ‘basket sneaking’ is a dark pattern that includes additional items such as products, services, payments to charity or donation at the time of checkout from a platform, without the consent of the user, such that the total amount payable by the user is more than the amount payable for the product or service chosen by the user. Another dark pattern called “forced action” means forcing a user into taking an action that would require the user to buy any additional goods or subscribe or sign up for an unrelated service or share personal information in order to buy or subscribe to the product or service originally intended by the user. Likewise, CCPA has specified 13 dark patterns to provide only as a guidance for the industry. Initially, CCPA had identified 10 dark patterns but after the public consultation another three were included. Dec 02,2023 Source: Economic Times

Government bans “dark patterns” on ecommerce platforms; notifies guidelines Read More »

Delhi High Court allows Mankind Pharma Limited to run modified advertisement on DMF Quality APIs with disclaimer

Delhi High Court: A suit was filed seeking a decree of permanent injunction restraining the defendant, its directors, principals, officers, employees, agents, representatives and assigns from creating impediments in the dissemination of the plaintiff’s advertisement. Dinesh Sharma, J. directed the plaintiffs to run its original advertisement in a modified form with the disclaimer that DMF is not mandated under Indian law and is not a quality norm for products in India. The plaintiff company started using Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) procured from United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) registered plants with valid DMF numbers, in its medicines. The Drug Master File (DMF) has all the information on the manufacturing, stability, quality, packaging, purity and impurity profile of API, for authorities to ensure that medicines of higher quality including very detailed and strict impurity profiles which safeguard against unknown adverse reactions. In June 2023, plaintiff came up with an advertisement campaign informing the public about the company’s initiative regarding procuring DMF Quality APIs for its medicines and spent INR 33 Crores on the advertisement. A law student filed complaint before Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) claiming that the advertisement claims that the medicines sold by the plaintiff are more effective and of better quality than of other Indian medicines, however, as DMF is not required by law for quality approval in India, promoting the advertisement on that basis may lead the public to believe other drugs are not safe to consume. The suit further seeks permanent injunction restraining the defendant from circulating the order dated 08-11-2023 to its members, the Government or the public in any manner and to set aside the findings in the defendant’s order dated 8-11-2023 against the plaintiff’s advertisement. It also seeks a declaration that the plaintiff’s advertisement and the claims made are fair and honest and does not constitute a violation of the requirements under the ASCI Code or any other advertising laws. Counsel for the plaintiff submitted that the advertisement is about the company’s initiative, not regarding a particular product. Further, the Plaintiff is not a member and therefore cannot be subject to ASCI, yet it sent a detailed response. However, the ASCI vide review order dated 08-11-2023 passed an order upholding the Complaint without considering the preliminary submissions made by Mankind and has also not given any reasoning as to why the previous order passed was incorrect. Counsel for defendants submitted that the suit is filed on the basis of a recommendation made by an advisory expert body which has no penal repercussions and the only action taken by the defendant in case of non-compliance is to inform the regulatory authorities thereby, leaving it up to them to take whatever action, if at all, is necessary. It further submitted that the Plaintiff is attempting to avert the regulatory/statutory proceedings, by approaching the Court prematurely as the issue in the present suit was limited to the way in which the product was being advertised and not to the actual sale of the product. Thus, the present suit was liable to be dismissed on account of lack of cause of action as the impugned order was merely a recommending order and the entire suit rests on the apprehension of future injury i.e. a quia timet case. The Court noted that without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the plaintiff, the plaintiff is ready to run declaimer as “DMF is not mandated under Indian law and is not a quality norm for products in India”. The Court directed that the plaintiff shall run the modified advertisement i.e., original advertisement with the disclaimer. The plaintiff shall avail the remedy of the “Independent Review Process” (IRP) within 10-days and may take all the objections as available under law. The department shall take the steps for the decision of the same in accordance with the law. The Court further directed that in the meanwhile, the defendant shall not send the recommendation as contained in the impugned order in the e-mail dated 08-11-2023 addressed to Mankind Pharma Limited. However, in case, the “Independent Review Process” (IRP) decides against the plaintiff, the respondent shall not send the recommendation to the appropriate authority for two weeks. Dec 04,2023 Source: Scconline

Delhi High Court allows Mankind Pharma Limited to run modified advertisement on DMF Quality APIs with disclaimer Read More »