President Shri Pranab Mukherjee meets delegates of the international conference on voter education for inclusive, informed and ethical participation

The heads of election management bodies and international electoral institutions of different countries attending the ‘International Conference on Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation’ called on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (October 20, 2016). 

Addressing the international delegates, the President quoted Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the co-founder of erstwhile Czechoslovakia and said “Democracy is the political form of humanity”. He said that the heads of election management bodies present there were custodians of democracy and therefore of humanity. He stated that democracy would succeed through their responsibility of discharging free and fair elections as per the Constitution of the country concerned. 

The President said that after India became independent and was transformed into a Republic, there were many doubting voices with regard to success of adult suffrage in the country. However, the Election Commission of India, which has an important role in our democracy, has been delivering the citizens well managed elections in a country with a vast area and a huge population. The country has seen consistent rise in voters’ participation in successive elections. The General Elections to the lower house of Indian Parliament in 2014 recorded a historic turn out. He stated that he was happy that the voters also chose a stable political regime by electing a single majority Government. 

The President said that the basic objective of democracy is to have an electorate which is informed and constantly engaged with the affairs of the State. It is important to create a conducive atmosphere to enable people to exercise their voting rights without fear or favour and see that the outcome of elections is not vitiated. Voters must be educated to exercise their right to vote with full responsibility and seriousness. He told the delegates that being experts in their field it was for them to decide how successful elections were to be implemented. He hoped that the deliberations at the Conference would lead to better voters’ education and increased voters’ participation.

PM sanctions ex-gratia relief for the victims of fire accident in Bhubaneswar SUM Hospital, Odisha

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has sanctioned an ex-gratia relief @ Rs.2 lakh each to the next of kin of the persons deceased and @ Rs.50,000/- each to the persons, who got seriously injured in the fire accident that occurred in the Bhubaneswar SUM hospital, Odisha on 17.10.2016, from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.

Need for Cultural Renaissance in India – Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu

5th Day of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2016’ Illuminated with Glorious Performances from East Zone Cultural Centre

‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav 2016’ efficaciously progressed to its fifth day, after the spectacular triumph of day fourth that showcased breath- taking performances from talented artists of the North Zone Cultural Centre. Today, glorious performances from the East Zone Cultural Centre brought eternal charm to the festival and finely introduced and connected the audience to India’s diverse and rich heritage.
The festival, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, is a pure blend of various crafts & art forms, regional cuisines & delicacies, power- packed performances and shopping delights that will continue to bring nonstop joy and excitement for the guests till 24th October, 2016 at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
Key highlights of the day, presented by the East Zone Cultural Centre (Kolkata):
·                     BhajGovindam, a choreographed act, dedicated to ShankerDev, Jai Dev, Vidyapati and ChaintanyaDev
·                     Adivimb, a folk and tribal dance performance
·                     Purvarag, a traditional music show
As part of the celebrations, Usha Uthap, a renowned playback singer, performed live on stage that brought more splendour to the day. She sung melodious and cheerful songs that well connected with the audience throughout the show. Viewers much-admired, celebrated and applauded her power- packed performance which served as a choral extravagance for many.
The event was graced by the esteemed presence of Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, who was the Chief Guest, today. He highly praised the efforts of the Ministry of Culture for organizing the largest conglomeration of India’s traditional, folk and tribal performing artists, handicrafts, traditional delicacies and more. He emphasized on the need for a cultural renaissance in Indian for reviving old cultural traditions and preserving our very rich cultural heritage. He opined that whole world is looking towards India for its great cultural values and traditions.
The programme was chaired by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture. “We are delighted to receive immense appreciation for successfully organising the “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav 2016” said Dr. Mahesh Sharma. “Alongside, we are equally proud to proceed to the fifth day of the festival. The cultural fair finely highlighted the rich and diverse culture of India through dance, drama, entertainment, art & crafts, food and performances”. He further added “We thank the East Zone Cultural Centre (Kolkata) and Smt Usha Uthap for making this day a huge triumph”.
The festival that initially began on 15th October, has gained massive prominence online by connecting with over 28,651,602 people on different digital platforms. Daily cultural evening of this event is live broadcasted through webcast on the website of festival and ministry of culture. Audience can get connected with this event through mobile application of festival available on Google play store by name ‘RSM2016’. This event has been a confluence of culture and Digital India. This number is aimed to increase in the coming days, highlighting ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav 2016’ as one of the largest ensemble of culture in India.
Key highlights scheduled for tomorrow:
                    Special performances by North Central Zone Cultural Centre (Allahabad)
                    Showground to witness an alluring performance by Shri. Manoj Tiwari, a renowned Bhojpuri actor and singer
                    100 + stalls exhibiting the master craftsman and artisans
                    8 Aangans that will demonstrate and sale the unique products
                    45 + food stalls with traditional master chefs showcasing distinctive Indian food platter
                    Rangoli making workshop for school children
                    Poster making competition
                    25 + documentaries highlighting practices, activities art forms and heritage.

Text of PM’s statement to the media, during the joint media briefing with State Counsellor of Myanmar

Your Excellency, State Counsellor,
Distinguished members of the delegations,
Members of the media,

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to welcome Her Excellency Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on her first State Visit to India. Excellency, you are no stranger to the people of India. The sights, the sounds and vibrancy of Delhi are familiar to you.Welcome back, Excellency, to your second home!Excellency, you are an iconic leader.

Your clear vision,mature leadership, struggle and eventual success in establishing democracy in Myanmar has inspired people across the world. It is indeed an honour for us to receive you in India. We are also grateful for your participation at the BIMSTEC and the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach Summit in Goa a couple of days ago.


Myanmar has commenced a new journey under your able leadership.It’s a journey of hope and much promise.

Your dynamism and popularity is leading your country to develop;
  • its agriculture, infrastructure and industry;
  • strengthen its education and skill its youth;
  • build modern institutions of governance;
  • connect more deeply with South Asia and South East Asia; and
  • provide security to its citizens.
Let me assure you, Excellency, that as you lead Myanmar to become a modern, secure, economically prosperous and better connected nation, India and its friendship will stand with you in full support and solidarity.


The State Counsellor and I have just concluded extensive and productive discussions on the full range of our partnership.India has a robust development cooperation programme with Myanmar. From the mega connectivity projects like Kaladan and Trilateral Highway, to projects in the fields of human resource development, healthcare, training and capacity building, we are sharing our resources and expertise with Myanmar.India’s nearly US Dollars 1.75 billion of development assistance is centered on people. And, is in line with the priorities of Myanmar government and its people.In our conversation today, we have agreed to enhance our engagement in several areas including agriculture, power, renewable energy and power sector. India will develop a Varietal Development and Seed Production Centre in Yezin in Myanmar to enhance the quality of seeds.We will also work to develop a mutually beneficial arrangement for trade in pulses. We have offered to scale up the power supply from Moreh in Manipur to Tamu in Myanmar. We will also partner in a pilot LED electrification project at a site designated by the Government of Myanmar.The MOU on Cooperation in the Power Sector signed just now will help create the framework for advancing our linkages in this important sector.


As close and friendly neighbours, the security interests of India and Myanmar are closely aligned. We have agreed that a close coordination to ensure security in the areas along our border, and sensitivity to each other’s strategic interests, will serve the interests of both our countries. Our societies enjoy a cultural connect that is centuries old. We have offered assistance in restoring pagodas damaged in the recent earthquake in Myanmar. The Archaeological Survey of India will also soon begin work on restoring two old temples and inscriptions of King Mindon and King Baygyidaw in Bodh Gaya.


I once again commend your leadership and your commitment to take Myanmar forward on its journey to peace, national reconciliation and economic and social development.As a reliable partner and friend, India stands shoulder to shoulder with you.I wish you and the people of Myanmar all success.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Commerce and Industry Minister launches the CIPAM Logo

The logo of the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) was launched today by the Commerce & Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. On the occasion she said that this is an ambitious task as India’s intellectual property related activities need great traction.
The logo has been designed keeping in mind the slogan of the National IPR Policy: “Creative India, Innovative India”. While the logo stands for “Cell for IPR Promotion and Management”, the letters “I” and “P” have been stylized to represent “Intellectual Property” as well.
The letter “I” stands for Intellectual, and is represented by a pencil, denoting the expression of creativity, and in the tri-colours of the Indian flag. The curve of the letter “P” stands for Property, and is denoted by a gear which depicts Innovation and Industry.
Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India: रचनात्मक भारत; अभिनव भारत”
CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.

India is setting up an extensive mechanism to ensure speedy, affordable and timely delivery of justice to consumers

MOS Consumer Affairs addresses Intergovernmental Group on Consumer Protection at Geneva

India has drafted new Consumer Protection Bill through extensive stakeholder consultation and study of best practices across the world. While drafting the Bill, special emphasis has been made to ensure simplicity, speed, access, affordability and timely delivery of justice. In true sense it is a futuristic bill and a great transformative step towards strengthening consumer protection and giving a clear message by the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi that ‘Consumer is the King’. This was stated by Shri C.R. Chaudhary, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, while addressing first Session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy during launch of revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection at Geneva yesterday.

Full text of Chaudhary’s address is as follows:

· On behalf of the Indian Delegation, I extend a warm welcome to all of you to this meeting of the1ST Inter-Governmental Group on Consumer Protection Law and Policy. I feel highly honoured to address you on behalf of my country.

· It is a matter of great pleasure that we have participants from across the globe. This is a forum which facilitates greater engagement, better mutual understanding and provides a good opportunity for formation of strategies for taking forward the agenda of Consumer Protection asper present day requirement.

· Consumer rights contribute towards a fairer, safer and healthier society, and a more equitable and efficient economy. The realization of consumer rights will also contribute to the achievement of many of the goals included in the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), particularly those relating to equitable economic growth, improved health, water and food.
· The current economic environment and rapid societal and technological changes have led to new trends in consumer habits and new challenges for consumer protection across the countries. The consumption patterns have significantly changed since the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) came into effect, more than 30 years ago, and will continue to evolve in the coming decades. In India we have identified emerging challenges not only regarding products, services and food safety, but also associated to the digital revolution, and to sustainable consumption. There are also Sector-specific challenges in key sectors, which need priority attention such as food, energy, transport, electronic communications and financial services.

Mr. Chairperson,

· The recent decade has seen a significant transformation of the financial landscape shaped by the forces of globalization, advances in technology, the trend towards greater market orientation and financial innovation. The most significant and outstanding trends come from the digital environment. The development of new digital products and services the use of internet for purchasing purpose, the development of new forms of payment, raise a number of issues with regards to consumer protection. Two decades earlier or even 10 years ago, no one could have imagined the impact of digital technologies on the average Indian. For starters, the numbers are mind boggling. The total number of Indians with access to a cell phone is already close to a billion. The number of people in the country today with Internet access is already 300+million-the size of the US population. Over the next decade, this number is expected to rise to 800+ million. This dramatic increase is going to be accompanied by a change in the profile of the average user. The first 100 million ‘digital Indians’ were largely men, urban, educated, earning higher incomes and typically young. The 400 to 500 millionth ‘digital Indians’ are going to be the opposite-rural, mid-income, older, with more women included. This digital democratization will have a profound impact on how Indians see, select, study, spend, save, socialize and sell. Digital technologies will save, socialize and sell. Digital technologies will fundamentally change the nature of these interactions. e-commerce therefore is one of our priority focus areas.

Mr. Chairperson,

· India’s rate of urbanization has been different from most other countries. We estimate that about 40% of Indian’s population will live in urban areas by 2025, accounting for more than 60% of the total consumption. India’s rural market is also huge, and it has its own set of challenges. To tap this huge market potential large number of companies are operating in various sectors. Most of these companies are successful in terms of profitability, sales revenue line and even market share and growth rates. High growth of business also brings with it more issues concerning the consumers such as unfair pricing, product safety, and quantity and quality assurance.

· Our country has a long history of addressing concerns of the consumers. Mahatma Gandhiji firmly called for Consumer Focus for the businesses. He said “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are outsider of our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so”. There are some businesses which believe in this philosophy and have developed ethical codes for business practice, and have robust systems of consumer grievance redressal. However, the inherent profit motive in mass production and sales also offered various opportunities to some of the manufacturers and dealers to exploit consumers. Each day, unscrupulous market practices are finding their way into our daily lives, violating consumer rights and jeopardizing their safety. That is precisely the time when the Governments have to steps in and protect consumer interest. Effective consumer protection and competition frameworks are essential features of good governance. Policy, legal and regulatory framework reform to address the consumer plight, consumer awareness, empowerment, information and outreach remains key to address the evolving global market trends, life styles and related challenges of scams, crime and fatalities.

· I am happy to share with this August gathering that India was one of the first countries to enact a comprehensive Consumer Protection Act in 1986, immediately after the UNGCP came into being in 1985. Our three tier system of Consumer Dispute Redressal through quasi-judicial bodies is a unique concept, which ensures a quicker and less costly relief to the consumers. Our Government has tabled a new Consumer Protection Bill in the Parliament, drawing from the latest and the best global practices. Through this new legislation we aim to address the consumer issues in a comprehensive manner offering executive, quasi-judicial and judicial remedies.

· In addition to the strengthening of legal framework, the Government of India is also laying greater emphasis to consumer education and working with the goal of reaching the next level, from Consumer Protection to consumer empowerment. To achieve this goal the Government is offering a range of services such as National and State Consumer Helplines, Publicity Campaigns through Jago Grahak Jago, which means “Wake-up Consumer, wake-up”, funding of academic institutions and voluntary consumer organisations in conducting Consumer Awareness Programmes, and involvement of Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce in Policy Consultations and Joint campaigns. Recently, the Government has also constituted a Task Force for studying the UN Guidelines and to suggest the way forward.

· India is spending about 30-50 million US dollars on consumer protection annually and has initiated a number of consumer centric schemes based on the broad fundamentals of consumer awareness, standard and conformity assessment and inexpensive and quick redressal. Some of the important recent initiatives are—

· Launch of a portal ‘Grievance Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA)’ to handle complaints of consumers relating to misleading advertisements

· Issuance of guidelines on Direct Selling

· Online case monitoring system in the Consumer For a

· E-filing of complaints by consumers in Consumer Fora is under process

· Grahak Suvidha Kendras as a one stop center to provide a host of services to consumers under one roof. Such as information dissemination, consumer awareness, mediation, grievance redress, assistance in filing complaints before the relevant consumer forum and counseling.

· The approach and mechanisms adopted to protect consumers in individual jurisdictions may vary from one country to another, given the unique characteristics prevailing in the different respective economies and financial systems. Consideration of country-specific circumstances and contextualization is important to evolve relevant and effective consumer protection and education infrastructures. Individual countries need to customize the consumer protection and education framework to their environment, taking into account factors such as the stage of economic and regulatory development, the structure of the financial system and the level of consumer sophistication.

· Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, existing India’s Consumer Protection Act-1986 is being replaced by a consumer friendly legislation, with a forward looking approach including protection of consumer’s rights while transacting through e-commerce.

· This bill has been developed through extensive stakeholder consultation and study of best practices across the world. While drafting the Consumer Protection Bill-2015, special emphasis has been made to ensure simplicity, speed, access, affordability and timely delivery of justice. In true sense it is a futuristic bill and a great transformative step towards strengthening consumer protection and giving a clear message by the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi that ‘Consumer is the King’.

· Forums like this provide a good opportunity for countries to share information and insights, to discuss the issues and challenges at hand, explore potential areas for cooperation and lay the groundwork for future partnerships. Drawing on the experience and expertise of various countries, I hope this forum would provide a platform for participants to develop, share good practices, take stock of the States of Consumer empowerment in various jurisdictions and to plan for the future.

· I look forward to the outcome of your deliberations in fostering greater consumer protection and education. Together we can make a huge difference to the life of a consumer.

Consumer Mela for spot registration of consumer grievances

Industry bodies like and sector regulators to participate.
With an objective of bringing Consumers, Companies, Regulators and DoCA on one platform for Consumer Awareness and possible grievance redressals, on the spot registration of grievances. The Department of Consumer Affairs is organizing Consumer Mela 2016 tomorrow i.e 20th October, 2016 at Central Park, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

The partners in the Mela would be Industry bodies like ASSOCHAM, CII, DICCI, FICCI and PHD Chambers while regulators like FSSAI, TRAI, BEE would also participate.

The Consumer Counseling Mechanism of Department of Consumer Affairs popularly known as National Consumer Helpline (NCH) will be in the mela to educate consumers about their rights and responsibilities, the procedure for seeking Grievance Redressal, assisting them in registering Grievances, etc. It would also register on the spot Grievances, if any.

As the Department of Consumer Affairs is observing Swachhta Pakhwada from 16th to 31st Oct, 2016, this opportunity would also be utilized to educate consumers about their responsibilities to keep their surroundings clean. Nukkad Nataks on consumer awareness and Swachhta and Poster making competition by School children would be organized during the event.

Companies like Tata Motors, Reliance Communications, Amway, Amazon, SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, LIC, Hero Motors, Make My Trip, Geetanjali, ITC, Panasonic, etc. have confirmed their participation.

Keeping the festive season in view, when lots of purchasing are done, it is important that Consumers make informed choices, they do not fall prey to counterfeit products, unfair trade practices etc. Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution would be launching Consumer Awareness Week from 20th October 2016 to 27th October 2016 , to be observed throughout the country.