consumer awareness in rural india

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The welfare of the consumers lays in the fulfillment of their normal and legitimate expectation with regards to the goods they purchases and the services they avail. In a country like India where all the consumer protection laws are in place, the consumers are not really aware of them and the mechanism in place to redress their grievances. Those who know the laws know that the process is very slow and cumbersome. There are a number of steps taken to protect the rural consumer but without much impact due to the prevailing socio - economic conditions of the rural consumers. They generally base their purchasing decisions on the advertisement campaigns and promotional strategies employed by the organizations and also lack choice. The rural markets, which were earlier ignored by most of the big international market players, are now being seen as a land of great business opportunity. As the disposable income of the masses is growing, more and more corporate houses are entering into the rural markets with their new goods and products. Due to this marketing for rural consumers is becoming more complex. In a country like India, where a substantial number of the rural people are living below the poverty line, having high level of unemployment and poor literacy level; consumer awareness continues to remain low. Several studies have shown that rural consumers are generally ignorant and also unorganized. Under these circumstances, the sellers or the manufacturers, exploit the consumers. Though, the consumers in India have been provided with various safety measures against their exploitation, still the sellers and producers are hoarding and black- marketing the essential goods, resorting economic corruption and frequently cheating the consumers. Rural markets are full of sub-standard goods and duplicity of branded goods is another major problem in rural areas. As there is no check on production and sale of such products in the rural markets, many of these products have become health hazards. The expansion of service sector has added to the problem. Services like insurance, banking, electricity, and medical have expanded in the rural areas without any checks and balances and the rural consumers continue to be exploited by the service providers. Deficiency in services is a major area of concern. Spurious drugs are causing major health hazards. The vulnerable sections are mainly women, children and farmers. It is common to find that farmers are supplied defective seeds, adulterated pesticides and other sub standard commodities. In the rural markets and hats spurious goods are very common. The expansion of mass media has further given impetus to consumerism in the rural areas. Therefore, now it is widely believed that the fate of the consumers cannot be left to the market forces. In view of this the Government of India has taken a number of legal measures to protect the consumers by enlarging the scope of consumer protection. Of the various legal remedies, the Consumer Protection Act, enacted on 24th December, 1986 is the principal legal remedy available to the consumers. This is an important Act, which seeks to provide better protection of the interests of the consumers.

Who is a Consumer?
A consumer is any person who buys any goods for a consideration and user of such goods where the use is with the approval of a buyer, any person who hires/avails of any service for a consideration & any beneficiary of such services, where such services are availed of with the approval of the person hiring the service. The consumer need not have made full payment. Goods mean any movable property and also include share, but do not include any actionable claims. Service of any description is covered under C.P.Act & includes Banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, housing, construction, supply of electrical energy, entertainment, amusement, board and lodging, among others. Section 2 (d) of Consumer Protection...
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