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30th Jan 2018: One day National Seminar on “Consumerism and Consumer Protection in the era of open markets in India”

 
The PG Department of Sociology of Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector-11, Chandigarh organised a One day National Seminar on “Consumerism and Consumer Protection in the era of open markets in India” today. The Seminar was sponsored by College Development Council, Panjab University, Chandigarh. Dr.V.K. Bansal,Prof Emeritus, Department of Laws, Panjab University, Chandigarh was the Chief Guest, and Prof.Suresh Mishra from Centre for Consumer Studies, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi was the Keynote Speaker. More than 80 delegates from Chandigarh and other cities participated in the Seminar. These included teachers, research scholars, students and activists.

Welcoming the distinguished speakers and delegates, Prof. Anita Kaushal, Principal of the college observed that restructuring of economy has increased the vulnerability of the consumers, especially in rural areas. Tracing the genesis of consumer protection laws in India she emphasized that the complaint redressal mechanism needs to be more responsive.

In his inaugural address, Prof. V.K.Bansal discussed the various connotations of the concept of consumerism and went on to explain the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act and its fallouts. Equating advertisements with commercial speech, he stressed that they create desire and demand for goods and services. Consumption of certain goods leads to environmental degradation and hence consumption should be conducive to Sustainable development.

In his keynote address, Prof. Suresh Mishra elaborated upon the operational aspects of the Act. He cited cases and narrated incidents of unfair and restrictive trade practices. He also talked about the insensitivity of the officials of Consumer Protection agencies. “Globalization coupled with Information Technology has changed the culture and we are sucked into consumerism” he highlighted. Emphasizing that the consumers need to be aware of their responsibilities while buying the product, he motivated them to enlighten themselves, buy consciously and not hesitate to file acomplaint against unfair business practices.

In the Panel Discussion, Prof. Meenakshi Malhotra, DUI, PU Chandigarh, Prof. Sherry Sabbarwal, Chairperson, Department of Social Work, PU Chandigarh and Prof. SangitaBhalla, UILS, PU Chandigarh deliberated upon the theme. Moderating the discussion, Prof. Sherry dwelled upon the social aspects of consumerism and talked about consumer culture which is resulting in users becoming compulsive buyers. Prof. Meenakshi reflected upon the commercial domain of the themeand opined that no doubt the modern markets offer alternatives that were missing earlier; yet the buyers should be careful about the exploits of the manufacturers. Prof. Sangita presented the legal perspective and discussed the lack of awareness among the masses regarding consumer protection rights.

In the two technical sessions more than 25 papers were presented on various sub-themes like, consumer rights, consumer movements, consumer protection, consumer responsibilities, e-consumerism, role of media and NGOs etc.

Prof. Parvinder Singh, Dean College Development Council and Controller of Examinations, PU Chandigarh delivered the valedictory address. He congratulated the organisers for conducting the seminar on a very pertinent theme. Ms. Monika Sikka presented the report of the seminar and Dr. Manoj Kumar proposed the vote of thanks.
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