gfiles magazine

April 9, 2012

‘Consumer is the king’

‘Consumer is the king’
RAJIV AGARWAL, a 1975 batch IAS officer, is in charge of handling the affairs of the Department of Consumer Affairs. His Department is looking after Consumer Courts, Standards, Legal Metrology and the Futures Markets. Management of pulses is also the responsibility of this Department. Helping in this task is his degree in law besides his Masters in Physics. Agarwal has a long experience in agro industries and the cooperatives sector, having served as the CEO of Maharashtra Agro Industries Development Corporation, Commissioner of Sugar and Secretary in Maharashtra. He has also held the job of Managing Director, National Cooperative Development Corporation, a financial institution serving the needs of cooperatives in India. He was also Collector of Ahmednagar and Raigad Districts, and Municipal Commissioner of Nasik and Pune. In addition, in his long career, he has worked as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs in-charge of the North-Eastern Region and Additional Secretary, Department of Justice. Here, he explains how the Department of Consumer Affairs is focussed on consumer protection and empowerment.
interviewed by Anil Tyagi and Dr GS Sood
gfiles: The country is celebrating 25 years of the consumer movement. How has the movement progressed and what has been the role of your ministry? Are you happy with the present state of affairs as seen from the point of view of fulfilling the aspirations that consumers have from your ministry?  
Rajiv Agarwal:This ministry is known as the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. It has two distinct departments, one being Consumer Affairs and the other Food and Public Distribution. The work of the Food and Public Distribution department is obviously much more loaded because they have to ensure food security for all people. The Consumer Affairs department is basically for the welfare of the consumers. Anybody who consumes some products or services is a consumer. There are three or four major areas this Department is actively working in. One, of course, is the Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted in 1986 on the recommendations of a UN committee. This is actually based on what is known as common law in the English legal system, where they have the law of torts. ‘Torts’, as you are aware, is basically an actionable civil law. In India, the law of torts has traditionally been very weak and not many people go to courts seeking compensation under it. So, the Act has in fact formalised some areas of the law of torts for aggrieved consumers. ......READMORE :

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