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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Consumer Rights

The other day I was invited to deliver a lecture on Consumer Rights and Awareness with a perspective from the Railways. The lecture was, in fact, supposed to be a paper in a seminar organised by the journalism department of an university. The broader theme of the seminar was "Mass Communication as a Medium for Generating Consumer Awareness". I was not given a clue to the theme of the seminar and therefore when I arrived to deliver the lecture, I was surprised as well as embarrassed. Surprised, as it would have been much easier for me to deliberate on the theme of the seminar and embarrassed as I had not prepared in the line of the theme of the seminar.

Consumer Rights is not something I had ever bothered about. Of course, the attempt by shop-owners to take me for a ride often irritates me. But, I was never serious about doing something about them or for my right right as a consumer. And consumer right is not something that Railways probably bother either. There was nothing on the subject the Railways had to offer and the railway people themselves were not sure about the mechanism of ensuring consumers' rights.

So, when I was requested to speak on the subject, I had to start from scrape. I did a search on the subject, read a few books on Railway Rules and Acts and came up with a 2000 words write-up on the subject based on my understanding. The exercise was immensely beneficial for me as this was one area I never intended to explore.

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