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Consumer Movement

 The consumer movement arose out of dissatisfaction of the consumers as the sellers were indulging in many unfair practices. There was no legal system available to consumers to protect them from exploitation in the marketplace.

Consumers had to fend for themselves.

If a consumer is not happy with a particular brand product or shop, he or she generally avoided buying that brand product, or would stop purchasing from that shop.


It was presumed that it was the responsibility of consumers to be careful while buying a commodity or service.

It took many years for organisations in India, and around the world, to create awareness amongst people.

Awareness of consumer rights was spread through street plays organised by Social Organisations

 The awareness made consumers realise that the sellers also had the responsibility of ensuring the quality of goods and services they offered.

In India, the consumer movement as a ‘social force’ originated with the necessity of protecting and promoting the interests of consumers against unethical and unfair trade practices.

The Consumer movement was born in an organised form in the 1960s. In the early 1970s, consumer organisations/groups were formed to look into the malpractices in ration shops and overcrowding in the road passenger transport. More recently, India witnessed an upsurge in the number of consumer groups.

Consumers International

In 1985 United Nations adopted the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection.

New York

United Nations guidelines for consumer protection
(as expanded in 1999)

I. Objectives
1. Taking into account the interests and needs of consumers in all countries, particularly those in developing countries; recognizing that consumers often face imbalances in economic terms, educational levels and bargaining power; and bearing in mind that consumers should have the right of access to non-hazardous products, as well as the right to promote just, equitable and sustainable economic and social development and environmental protection, these guidelines for consumer protection have the following objectives:

(a) To assist countries in achieving or maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers;

(b) To facilitate production and distribution patterns responsive to the needs and desires of consumers;

(c) To encourage high levels of ethic al conduct for those engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services to consumers;

(d) To assist countries in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at the national and international levels which adversely affect consumers;

(e) To facilitate the development of independent consumer groups;

(f) To further international cooperation in the field of consumer protection;

(g) To encourage the development of market conditions which provide consumers with greater choice at lower prices;

(h) To promote sustainable consumption.

 This was a tool for nations to adopt measures to protect consumers and for consumer advocacy groups to press their governments to do so. At the international level, this has become the foundation for consumer movement. Today, Consumers International has become an umbrella body of 240 organisations from over 100 countries.

Consumers India

Due to the efforts taken by the UN, the consumer movement succeeded in bringing pressure on business firms as well as governments to correct business conduct which may be unfair and against the interests of consumers at large.

 A major step taken in 1986 by the Indian government was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, popularly known as COPRA.

In order to protect the consumers from exploitation and to save them from adulterated and substandard goods and deficient services the Consumer Protection Act came into force on 15th April, 1986 and it applies to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

 Consumer Court in India

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