Thursday, 18 September 2014

Consumer Rights


v Consumer Exploitation
Ø In capitalist society consumer in king however companies poorly treat them.
Reasons
       I.            When Goods & Services short in supply – prices go high i.e inflation.
     II.            Monopoly: manipulation in price by hoarding & black marketing 
  III.            Low Literacy & ignorance : leads to exploitation
  IV.            Unorganized consumers widely dispersed & not united.
    V.            Misleading information through ads, false promises.

v Forms of Consumer Exploitation

       I.            Under weight
     II.            High Prices
  III.            Adulteration of Foods  & Edible oils
  IV.            Sub-Standard Quality
    V.            Duplicacy
  VI.            Lack of Safety Device

v Consumer Movements

ü Consumer Movement arose out of dissatisfaction of Consumer & many unfair practices indulged by sellers.
ü First Consumer Movement Started in England after First World war
ü Ralph Nadar, Consumer activist of USA is known as ‘Father of Consumer Movement’
ü Modern declaration about Consumer Rights declared in USA(1962) on 15 March
ü 15th March is Celebrated as ‘ World Consumer Rights Day’

Ø Four Basic Rights Declared
       I.            Right  to Choice
     II.            Right to Information
  III.            Right to Safety
  IV.            Right to be Heard
ü In 1985 United Nations (UNO) adopted Guidelines for Protection of consumers.

v Consumer Movement in India.
ü 24 Dec. 1986, Indian Parliament enacted ‘ Consumer Protection Act(COPRA)
ü 24 Dec. is observed as “National Consumer‘s Right Day”.

v Rights & Duties of Consumer in India
Rights
        i.            Right to Safety :Protection from Goods & Services hazardous to life & property
      ii.            Right to be Informed: Includes Quality, Quantity , Purity , Price.
Ø 2005 New Act Passed “Right to Information  Act(RTI).
    iii.            Right to Choose: Assurance of access to Variety of goods & services.
   iv.            Right to be Heard: Consumer grievances should be heard at appropriate forums.
     v.            Right to Seek redressal : i.e Settlement of genuine grievances.
   vi.            Right to Consumer Education : Includes Knowledge about goods & Services.

Duties
Ø Consumer Should
                               I.            Look Quality  
                             II.            Guarantee & Warranty
                          III.            Buy marked Products ISI , AGMARK
                          IV.            Cash –Memo
                            V.            Form consumer awareness organizations
                          VI.            Must Make Complaints of genuine grievances
                       VII.            Know their rights.
v Consumer Grievances Redressal agencies
Ø Under ‘Copra’ –Consumer dispute Redressal agencies set up.
(1) District Forum
Ø Established by state government
Ø Claim up to 20 lakhs
Ø Samples send to laboratory
Ø Appeal against the district forums within 30 days
Ø Members – Chairman +2 members
(2) State Commission
Ø Est. By state Government
Ø Consist – President (either judge or former judge of high Court ) + 2 members
Ø Claim above 20 lakh to 1 crore
Ø Appeal against order of state commission within 30 days to national commission
(3) National commission
Ø Ent. By Central Government
Ø Consist – President ( Judge of Supreme Court) + 2 members
Ø Claim – More Than 1 crore
Ø Any appeal against order of national commission within 20 days to supreme court .
Note
       I.            AGMARK (Agriculture & Marketing Act)
Ø Govt. Give Grade
     II.            ISI (Indian Standard Institution)
Ø This Mark denote a standard of Quality laid down by bureau of Indian Standards after stringent Check.
  III.            HALLMARK
Ø BSI Issue Hallmarking of Gold
  IV.            WOOLMARK

Ø Specifies pure new wool

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

CHALLENGE TO DEMOCRACY

challenge to democracy

®      We usually call only those difficulties a ‘challenge’ which are significant and which can be overcome. A challenge is a difficulty that carries within it an opportunity for progress. Once we overcome a challenge we go up to a higher level than before.

®      At least one fourth of the globe is still not under democratic government. The challenge for democracy in these parts of the world is very stark.

foundational challenge

®      Non-Democratic countries face the foundational challenge of making the transition to democracy and then instituting democratic government. This involves bringing down the existing non-democratic regime, keeping military away from controlling government and establishing a sovereign and functional state.
         
          Examples
1.       Restoration of Democracy in Chile        
®      Military coup in Chile (1973). Salvador Allende the President of Chile died in Military attack. Pinochet’s military dictatorship came to end after he decided to hold a referendum in 1988.

2.      Democracy in Poland
®      Polish united worker’s party (communist party) deafeated by Solidarity under the leadership of Lech Walesha.

3.      Case of Ghana (Gold Coast)
®      President Kwame Nkrumah overthrown by military in 1966.

4.      Case of Myanmar
®      The National League for democracy led by Aung San Su Kyi (Soo-chi) won election in 1990. She was put into house arrest.

5.       Case of China
®      Communist party adopts economic reforms but maintain monopoly over political power.       
challenge of expansion

®      The established democracies face the challenge of expansion. This involves applying the basic principle of democratic government across all the regions, different social groups and various institutions.

®      Ensuring greater power to local governments, extension of federal principle to all the units of the federation, inclusion of women and minority groups, etc., falls under this challenge. This also means that less and less decisions should remain outside the arena of democratic control.

          Example
1.       Sri Lanka         
®      In Sri Lanka democratically elected government adopted a series of ‘Majoritarian’ measures to establish Sinhala supermacy.

2.      US, Civil Rights 
®      Blacks have won equal rights, but are still poor, less educated and marginalised.

3.      Saudi Arabia
®      Women not allowed to take part in public activities, no freedom of religion for minorities.

4.      US, Guantanamo Bay
®      UN Secretary General calls this a violation of international law, US refused to respond.

challenge of deepening of democracy

®      The challenge of deepening of democracy is faced by every democracy in one form or another. This involves strengthening of the institutions and practices of democracy.
         
          In general terms, it usually means strengthening those institutions that help people’s participation and control. This requires an attempt to bring down the control and influence of the rich and powerful people in making governmental decision.
          Example
1.       United Nation and US
®      The US and its allies like Britain, alleged that Iraq possessed secret nuclear weapons and other ‘weapons of mass destruction. But when a UN team went to Iraq to search for such weapons, it did not find any. Still the US and its allies invaded Iraq, occupied it and removed Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.

2.      Security Council
®      The fifteen member Security Council of the UN takes any decision about what action should be taken in a conflict between different countries. The Council has five permanent members - US. Russia, UK, France and China. Ten other members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. The real power is with five permanent members.

3.      IMF
®      International Monetary Fund (IMF) is one of the biggest moneylenders for any country in the world. Its 188 member states (as on 1 September 2012) do not have equal voting rights. The vote of each country is weighed by how much money it has contributed to the IMF.

political reforms

®      All the suggestions or proposals about overcoming various challenges to democracy are called ‘democratic reform’ or ‘political reform’.

®      Carefully devised changes in law can help to discourage wrong political practices and encourage good ones. But legal-constitutional changes by themselves cannot overcome challenges to democracy.

®      Any legal change must carefully look at what results it will have on politics. Sometimes the results may be counter-productive. For eg. many states have banned people who have more than two children from contesting panchayat elections. This has resulted in denial of democratic opportunity to many poor and women, which was not intended. 

®      Generally, laws that seek to ban something are not very successful in politics. The best laws are those which empower people to carry out democratic reforms.
          Example
®      The Right to Information Act is a good example of a law that empowers the people to find out what is happening in government and act as watchdogs of democracy. Such a law helps to control corruption and supplements the existing laws that banned corruption and imposed strict penalties.

®      Any proposal for political reforms should think not only about what is a good solution but also about who will implement it and how. It is not very wise to think that the legislatures will pass legislations that go against the interest of all the political  parties and MPs. But measures that rely on democratic movements, citizens’ organisations and the media are likely to succeed.

redefining democracy

®      Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people. We can have democracy in a real sense only when people and politicians overcome the barriers of caste and religion.

®      The rulers elected by people must take all the major decisions; elections must offer a choice and fair opportunity to the people to change the current rulers.

®      This choice and opportunity should be available to all the people on an equal basis; the exercise of this choice must lead to a government limited by basic rules of the constitution and citizens’ rights.

®      Power sharing is the spirit of democracy. Power sharing between governments and social groups is necessary in a democracy.

®      A good democracy is what we think it is and what we wish to make it.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

OUTCOMES OF DEMOCRACY

OUTCOMES OF DEMOCRACY

introduction
          Chapter deals with the expected and actual outcomes of democracy in various respects, quality of government, economic well-being, inequality, social differences and conflict and finally freedom and dignity.

assessment of democracy’s outcomes

          Democracy is better because it :
(i)     Promotes equality among citizens;
(ii)   Enhances the dignity of the individual;
(iii)  Improves the quality of decision making;
(iv)  Provides a method to resolve conflicts; and
(v)    Allows room to correct mistakes.

          But not all people would be satisfied with the democracy in practice. So we face a dilemma : democracy is seen to be good in principle, but felt to be not so good in its practice. 

          The first step towards thinking carefully about the outcomes of democracy is to recognise that democracy is just a form of government. It can only create conditions for achieving something. The citizens have to take advantage of those conditions and achieve those goals.

accountable and responsIVE  government
®      The most basic outcome of democracy should be that it produces a government that is accountable to the citizens, and  responsive to the needs and expectations of the citizens.
          Is democratic government effective and efficient?

®      Some people think that democracy produces less effective government. It is, of course, true that non-democratic rulers do not have to bother about deliberation in assemblies or worry about majorities and public opinion. So, they can be very quick and efficient in decision making and implementation. Democracy is based on the idea of deliberation and negotiation. So, some delay is bound to take place.

®      The democratic government will take more time to follow procedures before arriving at a decision. But because it has followed procedures, its decisions may be both more acceptable to the people and more effective. So, the cost of time that democracy pays is perhaps worth it.

®      A citizen who wants to know if a decision was taken through the correct procedures can find this out. She has the right and the means to examine the process of decision making. This is known as transparency. This factor is often missing from a non-democratic government.

®      The democratic government develops mechanisms for citizens to hold the government accountable and mechanisms for citizens to take part in decision making whenever they think fit.

          Some disadvantages of democracy
®      Democracies have had greater success in setting up regular and free elections and in setting up conditions for open public debate. But most democracies fall short of elections that provide a fair chance to everyone and in subjecting every decision to public debate.
®      Democratic governments do not have a very good record when it comes to sharing information with citizens. All one can say in favour of democratic regimes is that they are much better than any non-democratic regime in these respects.

®      Democracies often frustrate the needs of the people and often ignore the demands of a majority of its population. The routine tales of corruption are enough to convince us that democracy is not free to this evil.

Democracy and legitimate government

®      There is one respect in which democratic government is certainly better than its alternative : democratic government is legitimate government.

®      That is why there is an overwhelming support for the idea of democracy all over the world.

®      The support exists in countries with democratic regimes as well as countries without democratic regimes. People wish to be ruled by representatives elected by them.
®      Democracy’s ability to generate its own support is itself an outcome that cannot be ignored.

 economic outcomes of democracy
®      All democracies and all dictatorships for the fifty years between 1950 and 2000, dictatorships have slightly higher rate of economic growth.

®      But when compare their record only in poor countries, their is virtually no difference

          Reduction of inequality and poverty

®      Democracies are based on political equality. i.e. one vote one value. But we find growth in economic inequalities.

®      A small number of ultra-rich enjoy a highly disproportionate share of wealth and incomes. Not only that, their share in the total income of the country has been increasing. The bottom of the society have very little to depend upon. Their incomes have been declining. Sometimes they find it difficult to meet their basic needs of life, such as food, clothing, house, education and health.
         
®      In democratic countries like South Africa and Brazil, the top 20 per cent people take away more than 60 per cent of the national income, leaving less than 3 per cent for the bottom 20 per cent population. Countries like Denmark and Hungary are much better in this respect.
         
®      The poor constitute a large proportion of our voters and no party will like to lose their votes.

®      The situation is much worse in some other countries. In Bangladesh, more than half of its population lives in poverty. People in several poor countries are now dependent on the rich countries even for food supplies.

accommodation of social diversity
®      Democracies leads to peaceful life among citizens.

®      Democracies accommodate various social divisions. Ex. Belgium has successfully negotiated difference among ethnic populations.

®      Ability to handle social differences, divisions and conflicts is thus a definite plus point of democratic regimes. But the example of Sri Lanka reminds us that a democracy must fulfil two conditions in order to achieve this outcome, namely harmony and accomodation of minority with majority.

®      It is necessary to understand that democracy is not simply rule by majority opinion. The majority always needs to work with the minority so that governments function to represent the general view.       

®      It is also necessary that rule by majority does not become rule by majority community in terms of religion or race or linguistic group, etc. Rule by majority means that in case of every decision or is case of every election, different persons and groups may and can form a majority. Democracy remains democracy only as long as every citizen has a chance of being in majority at some point of time. 

dignity and freedom of the citizens

®      Democracy stands much superior to any other form of government in promoting dignity and freedom of the individual.

®      Democracies throughout the world have recognised this, at least in principle. This has been achieved in various degrees in various democracies.

®      Societies around world have been built for long on the basis of subordination and domination. For example, dignity of women.

®      Most societies across the world were historically Patriarchal societies. Feminist Movements have created some sensitivity today, that respect to and equal treatment of women are necessary ingredients of a democratic society.

®      Democracy in India has strengthened the claims of the disadvantaged and discriminated castes for equal opportunity. There are instances still to caste-based inequalities and atrocities, but these lack the moral and legal foundations. People have democratic rights.

®      As people get some benefits of democracy, they ask for more and want to make democracy even better. That is why, when we  ask people about the way democracy functions, they will always come up with more expectations, and many complaints.

®     A public expression of dissatisfaction with democracy shows the success of the democratic. Most individuals           today believe that their vote makes a difference to the way the government is run and to their own self-interest.