Consumer Guidance Society of India
SINCE INDEPENDENCE, India has been striving to develop and strengthen its industrial base. However, in this pursuit of “self-sufficiency,” the consumer has endure use of sub-standard products and services, adulterated foods, short weights and measures, spurious and hazardous drugs, exorbitant prices, endemic shortages leading to black marketing and profiteering, unfulfilled manufacture guarantees, and a host of other problems.
In 1960’s exploitation of consumers by manufacturers and service providers was rampant in India. A few monopolistic business houses controlled industry. In one infamous case, forty persons suffered dropsy and glaucoma after consuming groundnut oil adulterated with toxic argemone oil. The victims did not get any justice and the culprits escaped without punishment. This outrage energized nine women to organize a movement to fight for consumer rights.
In order to resist the silent suffering of consumers, an organized movement to protect consumer rights was the need of the hour. They formed the Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) to resist consumer exploitation of all forms. Thus, Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) is the earliest consumer organization in India established in1966.
- Ms. Seeta Gupta (Social Worker)
- Ms. Indira Mazumdar (Social Worker)
- Ms. Seeta Nadkarni (Social Worker)
- Dr. Leela Thorat (Doctor)
- Ms. Leela Jog (Journalist)
- Ms. Kamala Mankekar (Journalist)
- Dr. Shanta S. Rao (Scientist)
- Ms. Nalini Tulpule (Social Worker)
- Ms. Shakuntala Kadam (Social Worker)
Several public minded citizens and illustrious persons have joined their cause down the years.
- 1969 – 1972 Justice B. N. Gokhale (Retd.)
- 1972 – 1974 Shri. G. L. Mehta (ex-Ambassador)
- 1974 – 1977 Justice J. C. Shah (Retd.)
- 1977 – 1981 Justice J. L. Nain (Retd.)
- 1982 – 1983 Dr. (Smt.) Kamala Sohonie
- 1984 – 1986 Smt. Leela Jog
- 1986 – 1988 Justice B. J. Rele
- 1988 – 1990 Justice Y. J. Chandrachud (Chief Justice Supreme Court Retd.)
- 1990 – 1991 Justice B. Lentin (Retd.)
- 1992 – 1995 Shri. J. B. D'Souza, I.A.S. (Retd.)
- 1995 – 1997 Shri. Julio Ribeiro, I.P.S. (Retd.)
- 1997 – 2001 Smt. Krishna Basrur
- 2001 – 2004 Smt. Shalini Sirur
- 2004 – 2006 Shri. N. G. Wagle
- 2006 – 2014 Shri. S. P. Upasani, I.A.S. (Retd.)
- 2014 – date Prof. N. M. Rajadhyaksha
CGSI Managing Committee: Year 2014 – 2015
- Trustees: Mr. S. D. Puri, Mr. Nooruddin Sevwala, Mr. Cornad Saldanha
- President: Prof. N. M. Rajadhyaksha
- Vice-President: Dr. Shirish Waghuldhe
- Chairman: Dr. Sitaram Dixit S S D
- Vice-Chairman: Mr. Simon P. D’Costa
- General Secretary: Dr. M. S. Kamath
- Joint Secretary (School & College Education): Mr. Dinesh S. Bhandare
- Joint Secretary (Navi Mumbai): Mr. Santosh Shukla
- Treasurer: Mr. Vilas Wagh
- Joint Treasurer Mr. Hemant Rajarshi (Co-opted)
- Director Projects: Mr. B. V. Desai
- Editor KEEMAT: Dr. S. G. Bhat
- Prof. Dr. Naren Israney,
- Mr. Raj Talreja,
- Ms. Navneet Chahal,
- Mr. Vikrant Jindal
- Mr. Anil Karandikar,
- Mr. Arun Datey,
- Ms. Alka Nandi, &
- Ms. Jamna Vardhachary
- Dr. S. G. Bhat,
- Mr. Shirish Kamdar (Pune),
- Mr. Ninad Dixit,
- Mr. Ranjan Varma,
- Dr. J. V. Parekh,
- Ms. Devika Purav,
- Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep
- Mr. Goutam Bhatia
CGSI has on date has about 3000 life time members spread all over India with all Managing Committee Members and office bearers at helm being unpaid honorary volunteers.
CGSI was the first consumer organization to demand special Consumer Court for redressal of consumers' complaints. In 1975, CGSI led a delegation of five consumer organizations from different parts of India to the then Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Mr. T. A. Pai, and demand for a comprehensive Consumer Protection Act, Special Consumer Courts, and a Directorate for implementation of the Act.
CGSI’s constant follow-up was instrumental in enacting the “Consumer Protection Act 1986” by the “Government of India”.
CGSI's activities include (1) Consumer Education (2) Holding talks and exhibitions to spread consumer rights awareness among urban poor and rural areas (3) Consumer Complaints Redressal (4) Testing of Consumer Products and (5) Publication of "KEEMAT" a bi-monthly news magazine now published for over 20 years having articles of general consumer awareness, for CGSI members and general public.
CONSUMER EDUCATION FOR SCHOOLS/COLLEGES
CGSI's Education Committee members had been working with other likeminded educationists to introduce formal Consumer Education in the school curriculum. After two years of meetings and discussions, CGSI efforts bore fruit. In 1994, the Maharashtra Education Board introduced Consumer Education at the (9th) Ninth Standard Level, progressively covering students from the (4th) Forth Standard upwards. The subject taught are the Consumer Moment, Rights & Responsibilities of Consumers, the Consumer in the Market Place, Food Adulteration, Weights and Measures, Environment protection, etc. These topics included under the existing subjects like Civics, Economics and Home science, are project-based, and more practical in nature than theoretical or examination oriented.
CGSI conducts programs and guides consumers in various fields.
The following are some of the related areas.
- • General Consumer Awareness
- • How to file a Grievance with the appropriate Authority
- • Consumer Courts
- • Right to Information Act
- • Education Planning
- • Food Adulteration & Milk Adulteration
- • Oils / Vanaspati - Dangers of using those (Trans fats)
- • Soaps and Detergents –Types, Grades, How to purchase
- • Cosmetics – Types, Grades, How to purchase
- • Flavors & Fragrances / Perfumes / Body sprays – Types, Grades, How to purchase, Dangers of using cheap products
- • Property
- • Telecommunications
- • Electricity
- • Energy Conservation
- • Electrical appliances
- • Insurance
- • Cooperative Housing Societies
- • Airlines & Surface Transport
- • Banking
- • Specialized Finance Subjects like
- • Commodities Exchange,
- • How to manage your finances,
- • How to stay out of debt,
- • Debt Market,
- • Mutual Funds,
- • Stock Exchanges,
CONSUMER EDUCATION PROJECT FOR RURAL CONSUMERS
CGSI started a rural project in the villages of Thane and Raigad districts (Maharashtra) in 1997, with a staff of six and funding from Action Aid. CGSI gave consumer trainings to people in 112 villages by 1999. Over 32,300 people received Consumer Education through 750 talks and demonstrations in the 2 years of the project, 107 training programs were organized and special training in Consumer Activision given to 5,767 potential activists. Many local consumer groups have been setup in different areas by the Consumers themselves that are now actively organizing exhibitions, holding talks and redressing complaints. In the year 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, CGSI conducted consumer clubs in 25 schools each in Thane & Raigad District with the help of "Maharashtra State Government". CGSI trained a total of 2500 students and teachers in the subject of Consumer Awareness.
HOLDING TALKS AND EXHIBITIONS TO SPREAD CONSUMER RIGHTS AWARENESS AMONG URBAN POOR AND RURAL AREAS
CGSI’s main thrust is in rural area where consumer rights awareness is very low. With the help of its dedicated volunteers with their expertise in various fields, CGSI has been organizing consumer camps, exhibitions, imparting consumer education to school and college students etc. Today CGSI programs reach out to more than 20,000 consumers in a year. Now with the help of more and more experts from various fields, CGSI imparts knowledge about prudent investment, Telecom Services, food adulteration detection, medical negligence, mediation, legal redressal of complaints etc.
CGSI handles consumer complaints and offers legal guidance to those wishing to file suits in the Consumer Courts. In cases where there are a larger number of complaints against a particular party, both sides are brought together to resolve the issue. The CGSI'S Complaints Committee meets twice a week. CGSI has redressed many thousands of consumer grievances over the years, with 70-80% success in favor of the consumers. complaints cover medical/surgical malpractice and negligence; insurance non-payment; sub-standard drugs and medicines; home remedies; defective household appliances; poor quality foods and drinks; misleading advertising claims; and grievances concerning investments, real estate, insurance, telephones, electricity supply, etc. CGSI handled over 400 complaints during the year through personal counseling sessions, correctly guiding complainants, sometimes even clearly saying that they do not have a case to fight for without wrongfully leading them on.
As early as 1977, CGSI established formal product testing to evaluate quality by drawing samples directly from the market without involving the manufacturers in the testing process. Test results were a revelation for quality control regulatory authorities. It first assessed the safety and performance of domestic pressure stoves and found that two-third of the samples tested failed in safety Parameters. CGSI sent the results to the government and Indian Standards Institution (ISI) now Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), with a demand for mandatory certification. In 1986, with the passing of the Pressure Stoves Quality Control Order, ISI Certification for pressure stoves became mandatory. Subsequently CGSI did tests on electrical appliances and fittings - irons, immersion heaters, culminating in the enactment of the Household Electrical Appliances (Quality Control) Order. CGSI has developed a food adulteration testing kit and a milk adulteration testing kit for use by the lay consumers. Many other products were tested and reports published in the Society's monthly Journal, "KEEMAT": edible oils, powdered spices, 'surma' (kohl), geysers, clinical thermometers, plastic water bottles, rubber teats, milk, mineral water, breads, soft drinks, bath soaps, fabric detergents, and toothpastes.
"KEEMAT" India’s first monthly consumer magazine is now in its 43rd year of publications. CGSI distributes KEEMAT to all its members. KEEMAT is also available as a free download to the public from dedicated CGSI website www.cgsiindia.org. CGSI has also produced a number of Consumer Guides on subjects like Electrical Appliances, Edible Oils, Pesticides, Food, Adulteration, Safety at Home, Safe Blood, etc.
In 1991, CGSI received the National Award for Consumer Protection for its 25th year for service to Consumers. CGSI hopes to reach out to more and more consumers in the new millennium and to developed newer and more effective methods of serving consumers interest.
CGSI REPRESENTATION IN VARIOUS BODIES
Various Government statutory bodies like “Bureau of Indian Standards”, “Telecom Regulatory Authority of India”, “Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Authority of India”, “Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India”, “Dept. of Weights & Measures”, “Consumer Advisory Committee of various Industries”, etc., give representation to CGSI due to its dedicated work force and expertise at its disposal. Lately “Maharashtra State Government” has given representation to CGSI on its prestigious body – “Maharashtra State Consumer Protection Council”.
EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 2011, THE MAHARASHTRA STATE GOVERNMENT HAS ENTRUSTED CGSI TO ESTABLISH AND MANAGE THE MAHARASHTRA STATE CONSUMER HELPLINE. TOLL FREE 1800 - 222262. Considering CGSI’s experience in consumer rights protection “Maharashtra State Government” has awarded consumer helpline project to CGSI since September 2011 on five years contract. The main objectives are as follows:
- • Develop a resource centre at State level which will be networked with the National Resource Centre
- • Develop Alternate Consumer Disputes Redressal mechanisms at the State level
- • Resolve maximum number of disputes out of court
- • Promote active participation of companies and service providers in resolving consumer disputes
- • Early resolution of complaints
- • Reach out to rural consumers
- • Capacity building of State level Voluntary Consumer Organizations
- • Provide service in regional language in addition to English language
Consumers can call the Toll-free number (1800-22-22-62) or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to seek information, advice, or guidance for their day- to-day consumer problems.
Under this project, counselors have guided nearly 20,000 aggrieved consumers in 2013-14. Maharashtra is among the top two states in terms of number of complains handled amongst nine states conducting consumer helpline project.
CGSI’s DOCUMENTARY FILM “GRAHAKPAL” ON CONSUMER RIGHTS
CGSI has produced a documentary film “Grahakpal” on consumer rights by roping a few celebrities to spread the message of consumer rights awareness. The film is screened at various seminars conducted by CGSI resulting in the helpline message reaching to nearly 16,000 viewers in a year, majority of the viewers are college and school students who need to be responsible and aware consumers when they enter mainstream after completing their studies.
SOME LANDMARK ACHIEVEMENTS BY CGSI:
- I. CGSI is the earliest consumer organization in India, founded in 1966.
- II. CGSI was the first organization to demand a ‘Consumer Protection Act’ with ‘Consumer Courts’ to implement it. This became a reality in 1986.
- III. To date, CGSI has redressed more then 80% of the thousands of complaints referred to it by consumers.
- IV. CGSI was the first to establish formal ‘Consumer Product Testing’ in India.
- V. CGSI was the first to publish a monthly magazine "KEEMAT" carrying information of importance to consumers.
- VI. CGSI was the first to promote consumer education; initiate training projects in rural areas; promote publicity drives; and represents consumer interests with Government and other regulatory bodies.
- VII. CGSI received the National Award for Consumer Protection in 1991.
- VIII. CGSI participates in a large number of technical committees and Government decision-making bodies.
- IX. CGSI is a member of the Maharashtra State Consumer Protection Council.
- X. CGSI has produced a documentary film “Grahakpal” on consumer rights for easy dissemination to consumers.
- XI. CGSI is among the top two states in terms of number of complains handled amongst nine states conducting consumer helpline project.
With the number of queries and requests increasing steadily, and the eagerness to cover more and more consumers, CGSI is also conducting educational seminars in other states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Delhi apart from Maharashtra. During the last few years, CGSI is conducting nearly 250 seminars each on Telecom, Banking, Financial Awareness, Food Safety etc. CGSI has ambitious targets to reach more and more consumers through its consumer education programs and make India, a country of aware consumers resulting in flourishing markets with quality products and services.