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Road development slows down Polls and promises Auto components surge… Make standards certification mandatory... Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS When nations steal growth from one another… Fortune for Indian Airlines Tatas moving out of urea production... Valli, they are more marginalised Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! Haul over the coal Tax agriculture Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel The Gulf aviation boom Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? West Bengal: mindless malignancy Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu The rise and fall of Annamalai University B H Kothari - a tribute CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Airlines in India: cost and space Revive development banks... PC’s preference for professionals EVM is tamper-proof Don’t seem to feel the pulse… Pharma – overdose of copying S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Build close rapport with business leaders The sea- saw battle continues... 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When the President was rendered homeless… Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Roaring Ro-Ro facility Poor quality of university VCs Moily’s bold thrust More tributes to GR TELANGANA at last…BUT The few handicaps... to the lack of interest on the part of these to focus on original research. This despite the much lower costs of such research in India. The industry which thrived on the protection of a closed economy and the advantage of a vast domestic market, has failed to organise its evolution on healthy lines Telangana in top gear… Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad Fortune 500 review Delhi returns to BJP The why of tax incentives Come elections, come advertisements... Small units prefers to remain small... Noble nonagenarians... TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... 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Make standards certification mandatory...

CONCERT, part of the Consumer Association of India, in association with the American Consulate, organised a two-day national seminar on Consumer Product Safety. CAI’s R Desikan and his team presented a number of specialists from the government and industry, as also experts from the US and UK on the subject that has not received the attention it deserved.

Even in the country where today the consumer is truly the king, the United States, the movement attracted attention only post 1960: US was then enjoying the post war boom. The automobile industry was performing in top gear. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were on the top of global corporates. Ralph Nader was making a critical analysis of road accidents that were taking a heavy toll of human lives. He took the automobile manufactures to court, charging them that their vehicles were unsafe at any speed. And he succeeded! That was the birth of the organised consumer movement.

In India, with scarcity of goods and services, for decades it was considered a privilege to be sold a product. Knowledge of engineering and standards were confined to reputed corporates. Thus, the standards were set largely by representatives of the industry. Understandably, these standards were minimal. Cement manufacturers, for instance, set the standard to the minimum. When in the early 1980s the government permitted import of cement, there was a scramble for Korean cement of high quality delivered in tamper-proof paper bags. Very slowly Indian manufac-

turers reconciled to labelling 33, 43 and 53 grade cement and for years there was no adequate information on relating cement strength to the need. The same extended to other commodities like steel, where manufacturers graded these without adequately explaining the rationale for opting higher grades at, of course, higher prices irrespective of the need.

For decades, manufacturers of refrigerators and air-conditioners delayed introduction of CFC-free coolants that were mandatary over four decades ago in Europe, US and other countries. Again, they provided little information on power consumption, safety and other aspects. Even today, standards of electrical goods are kept to the minimum with little guarantee on stipulated performance.

IE had pleaded for mandatory standards for a large number of products, over three decades ago. I am therefore happy that the seminar demanded bringing much larger number of products under mandatory standards.

 

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