Scores of schoolchildren from across the country demonstrated their resolve to put an end to smuggling by generating consumer awareness on the occasion of the World Consumer Rights Day on Tuesday.
At an event organised by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and supported by FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE), the young consumers of India shared their thoughts and ideas through innovative paintings, which depicted the harmful effects of counterfeit and smuggled goods on the country’s economy and its people.
The winners of the top three paintings were awarded by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal at a grand ceremony.
The World Consumer Rights Day is observed every year to raise global awareness about consumer rights and needs. In a large nation with porous borders like India, it becomes “practically impossible” for enforcement agencies to track smuggling operations in every nook and corner of the country.
As a result, thousands of consumers fall prey to illicit and counterfeit goods such as food items and medicines, alcohol and cigarettes, jewellery, home appliances, among others. In such a scenario, the only way to counter smuggling is to spread awareness among the masses to boycott illicit and counterfeit products.
Apart from hurting the country’s economy, smuggling also poses a risk to India’s national security, as most large-scale illicit operations are led by crime syndicates.
Through a series of measures, including the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has been working on generating awareness among people and exploring ways to put an end to the menace of smuggling.
Congratulating the winners of the painting competition, Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said, “Our future generations are the real hope for change, therefore, empowering and strengthening them to act against any illicit activity will not only add momentum to the fight against counterfeiting and smuggling but will also help in shaping a brighter future of our country.”
Thanking the Ministry of Consumer Affairs for partnering with FICCI CASCADE on the initiative, he said, “Counterfeit and smuggled products cannot exist if consumers reject them and FICCI CASCADE is committed to work collectively with the ministry in the fight against such illegal trade practices.”
The jury members for the competition included P.K. Malhotra, Former Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, Hem Kumar Pande, Former Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Sanjeev Tripathi, Former Chief, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
The top three winners were awarded a certificate of recognition, along with a cash prize of Rs 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively.
India, which has the fastest-growing economy that is pegged to become the third largest in the world by 2035, endures tremendous suffering due to the booming trade of illicit and smuggled goods.
According to a 2019 FICCI CASCADE study, large scale smuggling in only five Indian industries resulted in a loss of Rs 1,17,253 crore to the economy. It also led to 16.36 lakh job losses.
With the objective to encourage the country’s youth to lead the battle against smuggling, FICCI CASCADE collaborated with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to organise a painting competition on the theme of “Youth for Socio-Economic Development – Paving the Way for India’s Amrit Kaal”.
Consumer Affairs Ministry-FICCI CASCADE’s anti-smuggling and anti-counterfeiting drive Smuggling and counterfeiting adversely affects foreign investment, employment, innovation, criminality, environment, and most importantly, the health of consumers.
The soaring market for smuggled products is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian industry, impacting ‘Brand India’ globally.
Over the past few years, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and FICCI CASCADE have been closely engaging with all stakeholders, including enforcement agencies and the consumers at the national and state level to protect the rights and interests of buyers.
While the first prize was bagged by Chandrima Pan of Class X from Delhi’s St. George’s School, the second prize was won by Supriya Baital of Class XI from Birla Vidya Niketan School, New Delhi. The third position was shared by Sajal Jain of Class X from Agra Public School, Agra, and Aaira Katoch of Class IX from Gurugram’s Lotus Valley International School. Meanwhile, all those who submitted their paintings were issued participation certificates.