International Workshop on Consumer Protection

In developing countries such as India, consumers are largely denied their due rights. The consumers are spread widely all over the country and some of them are poor, illiterate and are generally not aware of their rights, though their awareness has recently increased. The manufacturers and suppliers of goods and services often exploit consumers by adopting a number of unfair and restrictive trade practices such as by using misleading advertisements or by raising prices for maximizing their profits at the expense of the consumers. The consumers therefore need protection from these unfair and restrictive practices of producers and suppliers of goods and services.

Realizing the importance of consumer protection in India, an 'International Workshop on Consumer Protection' was organized jointly by Indian Institute of Management, Kashipur & Shaping Tomorrow (India's 1st Governance Startup) under the aegis of Department of Consumer Affair, Government of India. It was a two day event held on 22nd and 23rd August, 2017.The workshop was attended by eminent speakers/panelists from India and abroad and brought together distinguished delegates from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) and its associated offices (Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), National Test House (NTH), and Legal Metrology), International Experts from United States of America & Australia, representatives from industry, members of Voluntary Consumer Organizations, NGOs and other organizations and councils that are working closely with DoCA to a common platform for exchanging viewpoints as well as giving an overview of the best international practices.

The Workshop was a 2-days affair from 22nd August 2017 to 23rd August 2017. The detailed agenda and the structure of the workshop is as follows:

22nd August, 2017

VENUE: Conference Hall, International Youth Hostel, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Registration

09:00 AM - 09:30 AM

Inaugural Session

09:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Welcome Address

09:30 AM – 09:35 AM

Shri Anurag Goel¸ Founder "Shaping Tomorrow" Consultants

Inaugural Address by Chief Guest

09:35 AM – 09:50 AM

Ms Madhulika P Sukul, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs

Theme Address

09:50 AM – 10:00 AM

Shri P.V. Rama Sastry IPS, Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs

INTRODUCTIONS AROUND THE TABLE

10:00 A.M. – 10:15 A.M.

Session-I - Theme(Discussion): Discussion by DoCA of their most pressing concerns and "wish list" to enhance the impact of their work; identifying goals and best uses of consumer protection tools

10:15 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Tea/Coffee Break

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM

Session-II - Theme: Approaches to Consumer Protection

11:15 A.M. – 12:30 P.M

A discussion of current means of identifying breaches of standards; use of data to achieve the greatest impact; various approaches to establishing norms of conduct, including the role of rules, compliance and enforcement; coordination with third party stakeholders, including industry and NGOs; comparison of Australian and US approaches with examples of successes and lessons learned

Session-III - Theme: Approaches to Advertisement and Labeling

12:30 P.M. – 01:30 P.M.

Consideration of compliance with legal requirements for disclosures and truthfulness; evaluation of advertisement claims; impact on specific segments of the population, e.g. youth, elderly, illiterate

Lunch Break

01:30 PM - 02:15 PM

Session-IV - Theme: Development of Approaches for the Future

02:15 P.M. – 03:45 P.M.

Online and off-line transactions; the internet of things; differential pricing; outreach to consumers and small businesses

GENERAL INTERACTION AND Q&A WITH ENTIRE PANEL

03:45 P.M – 04:30 P.M

SUMMARY AND NEXT STEPS

04:30 P.M – 05:00 P.M

Panelists

Shri P.V. Rama Sastry IPS, Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs

Betsy Broder, US Federal Trade Commission

Nicholas Heys, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Shri Anurag Goel¸ Founder "Shaping Tomorrow" Consultants

Prof. Rajat Sharma, Assistant Professor, IIM Kashipur

23rd August, 2017

VENUE: India International Centre (Main Building), Seminar Room 2 & 3, New Delhi

Registration

09:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Inaugural Session

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Welcome Address

10:00 AM – 10:05 AM

Dr. Gautam Sinha¸ Director IIM Kashipur

Inaugural Address by Chief Guest

10:05 AM – 10:25 AM

Shri Avinash K. Srivastava IAS, Secretary Consumer Affairs

Theme Address

10:25 AM – 10:30 AM

Mr. Anurag Goel¸ Founder "Shaping Tomorrow" Consultants

Session-I - Theme: Consumer Empowerment (Expanding Consumer Grievance Redressal System)

10:30 A.M. – 11:45 A.M.

  • Discuss how different segment of consumers in India may be able to exercise their choice as per their priorities
  • Discuss the ways by which consumers could be fully aware of and are able to access the advocacy and redress mechanisms.
  • For that, not only we need to ensure effective Consumer Grievance Redressal Systems at multiple levels, but establishment of a complete "Ecosystem" for Consumer Empowerment is an utmost necessity. Discuss about the dimensions and key focus areas for a Consumer Empowerment Ecosystem.
  • Discuss European Consumer Empowerment Index- The index describes consumer empowerment along three main dimensions: Consumer skills, Awareness of consumer legislation and Consumer engagement.
  • Discuss the use of consumer complaint data to help develop priorities and guide activities

Panelists

Mr. Nikhlesh Jha, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Department of Consumer Affairs
Betsy Broder, US Federal Trade Commission
Indian Expert
Nicholas Heys, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Moderator

Dr. Vijay Kumar Singh, Associate Professor & Head, School of Corporate Law, IICA

Questions and Answers

Tea/Coffee Break

11:45 AM - 12:00 AM

Session-II - Theme: E-Commerce: Building Trust in the Marketplace

12:00 P.M. – 01:15 P.M.

  • Discuss the need to address a number of consumer challenges on an E-Commerce Marketplace related to information disclosure, misleading or unfair commercial practices, confirmation and payment, fraud and identity theft, and dispute resolution and redress.
  • Discuss the scope and applicability of Consumer Protection Bill and related laws in ensuring strong consumer protection in the online space, just as they apply to physical space transactions, keeping in view the increasing privacy and security risks. The panel will recognize the important policy interventions that can be future oriented, technological neutral and easily communicable to the consumers.
  • Emphasize a need for appropriate consumer protection responsibility mapping of different players involved in a transaction on Marketplace. It may be a good time to discuss the relevance of creating a platform protection index that would rate the prominent e-commerce platforms on their consumer protection friendliness.
  • Discuss the role of industry self-regulation to encourage compliance with standards of conduct

Panelists

Mr. P.V. Rama Sastry, Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs
Prof. Gail Pearson, University of Sydney
Indian Expert
Mr. Ram Poddar, ex-Chairman, Advertising Standard Council of India

Moderator

Prof. Rajat Sharma, Assistant Professor, IIM Kashipur

Questions and Answers

Lunch Break

01:15 P.M. – 02:00 P.M

Session-III - Theme: Ecosystem: Reaching Under-served Consumers: needs and partnerships; Promoting Fair Market Strategy; Consumer and Business Education, (Organizational)

02:00 P.M. – 03:15 P.M.

  • The panel will discuss about the opportunities and challenges in aligning the priorities of stakeholder organizations with the overall objective of serving the needs of varied customers, and in particular, the under-served customers of the country.
  • Discuss the appropriate structures, processes and accountability systems for the stakeholder organizations, including BIS, NTH and Legal Metrology, to facilitate their functioning at the leading edge of their potential.
  • Panel will also contemplate on how to address the multiple constraints, arising from different kind of market structures, and products and maximize reach and effectiveness within constraints.
  • The panel will discuss the importance of building partnerships with stakeholders – including NGOs, corporations and criminal enforcement authorities for fraud matters.

Panelists

Mr. Anil Bahuguna, Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs
Dr. Gautam Sinha, Director IIM Kashipur
Cindy Liebes, US Federal Trade Commission
CAG – Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (Indian Expert)

Moderator

Prof. Partha Dasgupta, IIM Kashipur

Questions and Answers

Session-IV - Theme: Changing Needs and Dynamics of Consumer Protection: Learning from International Expertise (Market Ecosystem)

03:15 P.M. – 04:30 P.M

  • Talking a stock of varied interests and needs of consumers, the changing technology and the future consumer protection challenges, the panel shall recognize the laws, regulations, rules, procedures and mechanisms required to strengthen and maintain a strong and updated consumer protection policy.
  • The panel will discuss the need to create a Consumer Protection Index that could measure the strength of consumer protection systems in a country. They will further explore the possible components at the broader level that would characterize the consumer protection system.
  • Bringing on board the experience of multiple countries, panel members would contemplate on the necessary human, financial and technological resources required for awareness, promotion and for facilitation of redressal of cases related to consumer protection in India.
  • The panel will discuss the need for working with international networks and fora to explore best practices and coordinate enforcement efforts

Panelists

Ms. Madhulika Sukul, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs
Betsy Broder, US Federal Trade Commission
Prof. Gail Pearson, University of Sydney
Mr. Shirish Deshpande, Chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat

Moderator

Mr. Anurag Goel, Founder "Shaping Tomorrow" Consultants

Questions and Answers

Closing Remarks

4:30 P.M – 5:00 P.M

Speakers

Dr. Gautam Sinha

Director, IIM, Kashipur

He delivered the Welcome Address in the Inaugural Session on day 2 of the workshop.

Anurag Goel

Anurag Goel¸ Founder "Shaping Tomorrow" Consultants

He delivered the Welcome Address in the Inaugural Session on Day 1 and the Theme Address in the Inaugural Session on day 2 of the workshop.

Avinash K. Srivastava

IAS, Secretary Consumer Affairs

He was the Chief Guest on day 2 of the workshop and delivered the Inaugural Address.

Madhulika Sukul

Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs

She was the Chief Guest and delivered the Inaugural Address on day 1. She was also the chair in Session IV (Changing Needs and Dynamics of Consumer Protection: Learning from International Expertise (Market Ecosystem)) on Day 2 of the workshop.

Nikhlesh Jha

Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Department of Consumer Affairs

He was the chair in Session I (Consumer Empowerment- Expanding Consumer Grievance Redressal System) on Day 2 of the workshop.

P.V. Rama Sastry

IPS, Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs

He delivered the Theme Address in the Inaugural Session on day 1 and was also the chair in the final session (Summary and Next Steps) on day 1 of the workshop.

Anil Bahuguna

Joint Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs

He stressed on education and sensitization of the consumer for effective implementation of the consumer protection objective.

There were various other eminent and highly recognized speakers who delivered speeches, presentations and papers in the sessions of the workshop:

  • Mr. Shirish Deshpande, Chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat
  • Mr. Ram Poddar, ex-Chairman, Advertising Standard Council of India
  • Betsy Broder, US Federal Trade Commission, USA
  • Nicholas Heys, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australia
  • Prof. Gail Pearson, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Ms Cindy Liebes, US Federal Trade Commission, USA
  • Prof. D. Daniel Sokol, University of Florida, Levin College of Law, USA.
  • Prof. Partha Dasgupta, IIM Kashipur
  • Dr. Vijay Kumar Singh, Associate Professor & Head, School of Corporate Law, IICA
  • Prof. Rajat Sharma, Assistant Professor, IIM Kashipur

 

 

Participants

The Workshop was attended by 75 delegates. These participants were highly recognized and eminent people and were from some of the most prestigious institutions of India namely Department of Consumer Affairs (DOCA), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Competition Commission of India (CCI), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), National Consumer Helpline (NCH), National Test House (NTH), Regional Reference Standard Laboratory (RRSL), IIM Kashipur, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, Local Circles, various sector regulators, members of Voluntary Consumer Organizations (VCOs), etc.