President Pratibha Patil said on Wednesday stimulating consumer demand and creating confidence in institutions and markets can help tackle the present downward trend in the global economy.
"Stimulating consumer demand and creating confidence in institutions and markets is one of the focal areas for tackling the situation. This requires products that meet standards of quality and services that have an assurance of safety," Patil said after inaugurating a meet of the Committee on Consumer Policy, an ISO body, in New Delhi.
Highlighting that the impact of the financial meltdown on India has been less because of strong domestic consumer demand, the President said, ". . . for us consumer protection is of great significance both as part of a sound business approach as well as for achieving the broader goal of national economic growth."
Stressing on evolving a network of institutions to safeguard interest of consumers, Patil said, "A legal system and a strong dispute redressal mechanism must also be in place. This can make consumer protection effective and meaningful, nationally and internationally."
"We have a Consumer Protection Act at the national, state and district levels. These courts have delivered landmark judgments in many spheres and have been a constant source of hope to consumers," the President said.
The President said standards play a key role in consumer protection and consumer organisations need to play a more meaningful role for developing standards both at national and international levels.
"In a globalised world, companies are producing the same product in more than one country or have a process of production, where various components are produced in different countries and, thereafter, these parts are assembled in a country not involved in the manufacturing of parts," Patil said.
"In such a scenario, countries should look at a coordinated approach to meet the needs of consumers satisfactorily by developing standards that take into account their concerns," Patil said, adding that a common set of accepted standards between countries to promote international trade will avoid unnecessary trade disputes.
Patil said that guidelines developed by the Committee on Consumer Policies, one of the important bodies of International Organisation for Standardisation should be used by countries to disseminate the information and thus empower the consumers.
Speaking on the occasion, consumer affairs and food minister Sharad Pawar said that health regulation is now seen as an integral part of the recovery process in the wake of the global economic crisis.
This understanding also recognises that interests of both consumers and business have to be reconciled in a mutually reinforcing framework," Pawar said.
High standards of manufacturing and service delivery help the country become more competitive, apart from benefiting the consumers.
"Therefore, consumer protection and emphasis on quality and standards are an integral part of any development strategy," he noted.