The founder-president of the Consumer Association of India, R Desikan, passed away on 27 June 2015 at the age of 83. Desikan was a multi-faceted personality. I remember him as an extremely efficient advertisement representative of Reader’s Digest India in the 1970s. He quit Digest and launched a women’s magazine in Tamil, Mangaiyar Malar, which emerged quickly as a leading women’s publication in Tamil at that time. He sold it off to Bharathan Publications (Kalki) and started focusing on consumer affairs. With his vast contacts, he built the Consumer Association of India with a number of local units.
Over a decade ago, he focused on the extensive adulteration of petroleum products. He collected samples of petrol and diesel from 21 retail outlets and got these tested; those samples were all found adulterated! This experience led him to set up a sophisticated chemical laboratory.
For over two decades, Desikan has been actively participating in media discussions on issues of consumer concern. He has been receiving solid support from wife Nirmala who pledges to continue with equal zeal after his demise. The consumer movement in the South has lost one of its ardent champions.