VARIOUS DIRECTORATES OF FEDCOT
FEDCOT has 11 directorates, each having specialised in and acting on a particular field. They are as follows:
- Food and Public Distribution
- Women Concern
- Public Utilities
- Local Self-Governance
DIRECTORATE OF TRAINING
The training unit of FEDCOT, was formally launched on 31 May 1992 to impart knowledge, skills attitude to members in regard to consumer affairs. It has now a well-established office premises in Nagercoil. The training team has been functioning very effectively and has been keeping the movement alive in different parts of Tamilnadu and Pondicherry. The different training programmes conducted by the training directorate of FEDCOT could be categorised as follows.
- Special Training Programme for Women
- General Awareness Training Programme
- Special Training for NSS Programme Officers
- Trainer’s Training
- Special Workshop
- Work shop on unfair and representatives trade practices
General Consumer awareness was the focus of the training programmes. The training methodologies used in these programmes have left a lasting impact on the participants.
A total of twelve Special training Programmes for women were conducted in 1994-95 by FEDCOT in various place in Tamilnadu. About 500 Participants participated in them and benefited from them.
Three General Awareness Training Programmes were arranged in 1994-1995 in Pondicherry and various districts of Tamilnadu. About 115 participants benefitted from these programmes. During this year several special training sessions and workshops were conducted. Special workshops included those for NSS programme officers. Some for activists, and lawyers on unfair trade practices, another on the experience of the bulk-buying schemes and yet another on health and health related issues.
From April 1997 to March 1998 eight Zonal Training Camps were organised. A special training camp was organised on 20-21 December 1997 for member organizations of FEDCOT to explore the sources for financial assistance for the expansion of their Activities. The participants were trained in preparing plan reports and the methods to get financial assistance from financial institutions. To ensure that women played a major role in consumer rights awareness, a training camp was organised for young consumer leaders. The objective was to identify such women and improve their ability through training. On 3 January 1998 FEDCOT conducted a one day training camp for women co-ordinators in Madurai on the right to get information Mr.Ossie Fernandes, director of Chennai Human resource foundation, Ms. Selvi High Court lawyer and Mr.Nagendran from legal resources for social action (LRSA) Karur Devasahayam were the resource persons. Three zonal level training camps were conducted by FEDCOT against unfair trade practice in February and March 1998. Finding that it would be easy to create consumer rights awareness among rural people if presented using theatrical devices FEDCOT decided to have its own cultural troupe. With this idea a consumer cultural training camp was organised from 26 February to 2 March 1998 at Dindugul. Participants were trained in drama consumer movements songs and villupattu (a foke-song which narrates a story adopted to our purpose). The trainee of this workshop performed live in front of an audience in the NSS camps held by Gandigram Rural University in Dindugul District from 15 to 22 March 1998. In the year 1997-98. For new members, training camps were arranged in 26 Districts and in 29 Taluks with 1502 Trainees including 429 women. The training Helped them receive consumer rights awareness education through FEDCOT and strengthen the grassroots level member councils.
The Training Directorate of FEDCOT organised two training camps for new consumer group leads one in Salem and the other in Villupuram. Training Directorate in collaboration with other voluntary organisations arranged a number of training camps in various places. The focus of the training camps was on consumer awareness, consumer problems. Realisation of the problems, of rural people etc. A consumer awareness camp was conducted on 22 and 23 February 1999 for NSS Students of Madurai Kamaraj University. Training Directorate used its consumer information exhibits in different places on different occasions and kept the people informed of the consumer rights. For young consumer leaders a training manual was brought out with a view to making them understand consumer-related issues so as to handle the consumer complaints in a better way.
In this year training directorate had arranged its own training camps besides helping the other directorates in organising their training camps.
Training Directorate- Training Camps
Tiruchy Zonal Level Consumer Welfare Training was arranged in Gandigram in Dindugul District from 23 to 25 April 1999. ÆThird Training camp was conducted to improve the functioning of consumer leaders in Samayapuram, Tiruchy, from 23 to 25 April 1999. ÆTanjavur Zonal level Consumer Welfare Training was arranged in Cuddalore from 15 to 17 August 1999. Chennai Zonal Level Consumer Welfare Training was arranged in Cuddalore from 15 to 17 August 1999. Training Directorate had a significant role in the publication of various training manuals.
FEDCOT’s big show in Consumer Co-ordination Council at Delhi Convention.
FEDCOT made its mark at the national level in the history of the movement with the largest number of delegates from a single state, 85 consumer activists from Tamilnadu taking part in the two-day National Convention on “Towards the New Millennium”. Held in New Delhi on 1-2 November 1999. Responding to the clarion call given by the consumer Coordination Council (CCC). The General Secretary Dr.pirai Arivazhagan led the team of delegates of FEDCOT. At this historic meet, it should be mentioned, FEDCOT not only Contributed to its successful conduct of the convention with its numerical strength, but also played a significant role in introducing some of its very important resolutions, Especially, FEDCOT Cautioned about the resolution on economic liberalisation in that the convention should not straight away welcome the globalisation as wholesome without any qualification, but wanted it to be suitably amended that liberalised economy would be a welcome step, it did not mean that unfettered freedom was conferred on the market forces. The Hon’ble Minister and his deputy Minister for consumer affairs Mr.Santhakumar and Srinivas Pradad visited the FEDCOT’s stall putt up at the Exhibition and recorded their appreciation on the highly educative value of the exhibits, especially the informative hoardings, Training Directorate helped the district administration in arranging consumer exhibition on benefit of the Government in various places in Tamilnadu. Training directorate arranged an excellent exhibition in Salem in connection with consumer day celebrations organised by Tamilnadu Government. The District Collector who inspected them commended the exhibits.
“From Consumers to Socially-Oriented Citizens” become the focal point of training camps for this year. What gave an added fillip to the orientation was The Consumer International (CI). To place emphasis on this viewpoint considerable time was allotted when imparting training at district level. After Deep study gender orientation in social outlook was included in training study material. About 25 District training camps were organised during this period. About 155 Consumer group and 419 participants were benefited from these camps. Training Directorate was involved in implementing consumer awareness programmes for school and Collage students. For NSS Students of various collages in different districts, seminar were conducted on the following two topics : - Impact of Privatization on the Consumers- Globalisation and rural development during this period the training directorate specially prepared fifty exhibits for second consumer rights awareness exhibition with the financial help of Tamilnadu Government. An Audio-Cassette containing ten consumer right awareness songs was brought out. These songs were used during the cultural training held in February 1999. They impressed all the participants.
The training directorate recorded phenomenal growth during the last ten years. Which was a period of intensive activity for it. In 2001-2002 with the financial help of Tamilnadu. Government this directorate conducted consumer awareness programmes for high school students. For consumer groups Zonal-level seminars were conducted on the topic “Impact of the Globalisation on Consumption Pattern” Consumer group representatives not only participated in these programmes but expressed their concern about the dangerous effects of advertisements leading to detritions of values in the society. They called for fundamental revolution in human values Prof.Peer Mohamed, Training Director, had participated in various seminars as resource person and made his valuable suggestions for creating consumer rights awareness among people.
Training directorate conducted five zonal Seminars in Madurai, Cuddalore, Tanjavur,Salem and Chennai. The theme for the these seminars was “People and their Rights” The objectives of the seminars were :- To enable people to understand their rights- To fight when rights are denied – to get back denied rights – To protect themselves from exploitation All FEDCOT Groups participated in the seminar and the final outcome of the process was noteworthy. For this seminar five different rights of the people were the focal point – Fundamental Rights – Human Rights – Workers Rights – Women’s Rights – Right to education experts were requested to write pappers on the following subjects :
- Fundamental Rights
- Access to Information
- Women’s Rights
- Social Justice
- Unorganised Labourers
- Rights to Education besides
Information was gathered on Central Government schemes, doctor’s code of conduct, lock-out and it impact on jobs. Different pieces of information thus collected were put together. Seminar papers and the various pieces of information compiled were used as a guide and it was distributed to every participant’s trainee. In all, 604 participants from 178 consumer groups benefited from these seminars. 93 Special guests also participated. All this led to the success of the seminar Participation of management committee members not only enthused the participants but also had a great influence on the board thrust of Training directorates policy of imparting result- oriented training programmes.
The farming community is facing tough challenges. To produce more food to feed the growing population from shrinking land and depleting water is an uphill task. There is steady erosion of ecological foundations of agriculture. It is the millions of farmers who provide food and nutrition security for the nation. FEDCOT decided to help farming families to surmount the problems they meet with and to campaign for adoption of environmentally sustainable farming methods so as to move towards ever-green revolution . to this end in view FEDCOT setup Agriculture directorate. FEDCOT’s Agriculture Directorate Arranged for a State-level seminar in Tiruthuraupundi. Tiruvarur District on 27 May 1997 under the leadership of Mr.R.Jayaraman. The following issues were taken up for discussion in the seminar Cauvery water distribution Free Electricity for Agriculture Credit and insurance facilities for agriculture. Cyclone, drought and flood relief work. Agriculture input distribution. Marketing of agricultural directorate had filed two cases in the district consumer disputes redressel Forum claiming compensation for 26 farmers who were adversely affected by the purchase of paddy-seeds. It also filed cases of behalf of the fisherman. In collaboration with Nagappattinam. Sneha-Neidal NGO’s pre-cautionary steps were taken in connection with the impact of the proposed East – Coast Road construction.
Campaign against Monsanto Seeds
Monsanto, the Multinational Corporation, is trying to compel the formers to buy seeds from it. Monsanto is trying to self sterile seeds to the farmers. The result is that the traditional method of keeping aside a certain portion of the produce as seeds will be eliminated and farmer will be made to buy seeds every time from his company. Therefore campaigns were launched for former awareness. Agriculture directorate’s planning and one day training camp was organised on 9 July 1999 in Thanjavur under the chairmanship of Prof.Srinivasa Narayanaswami. Dr.Pirai Arivazhagan. FEDCOT’s General Secretary, presided over the session. MrT.Kathiresan, Joint Director of Agriculture. Tanjavur was the guest of honour. M.Jothi, Deputy Director of Agriculture Thiruvidaimarudur spoke about the integrated Crop-Protection in cultivation in Thanjavur Mr.S.Vaithyalingam seed-research director, Tanjavur Spoke about quality seed production Mr.Kalaivanan, Agricultural products quality control director control Director Mr.R.Jeyapaul and Mr.R.Pandiyarajan also spoke, M/S Leesa Mr.Kennedy of Thiruchi farmers Association Spoke about the president situation relating to Monsanto company seeds. Later a future action plan meeting was held under the president of Prof.R.Kaladharan FEDCOT’s Tiruchy region Co-ordinator. The impact of crop insurance on formers and the necessity for a non political formers organisations were also discussed in this meeting. It was planned to do a field work on the impact of crop insurance and then file a public interest litigation. On behalf of FEDCOT’s Agriculture directorate a one day seminar was organised on 28 December 1999 in Swamimalai in Thanjavur District. The theme of the seminar was “Towards Natural Farming in the Year 2000”Mr.K.Ramamoorthy, Secretary of Muthupet Environmental Protection Society. Appealed to the farmers to change their cropping pattern and to cultivate nature oriented grains cotton, oil seeds and vegetables, Later Mr.Nammazvar, natural farming scientist, shared the results of his experiments with the farmers assembled there. Mr.S.Martin presided over the second session on “ Irrigation Management” Mr.P.R.Kuppusami, a well-known advocate and president, Cauvery – River protection Council took an overall view of farming a manual prepared by FEDCOT’s Agriculture directorate was released on this occasion, Mr.K.R.Jeyaraman took over as director of Agriculture. He went about meeting the higher officials in correction with the problems faced by farmers and fisherman and tried to find solutions to their problems then and there. District Collectors have been holding monthly meetings to hear farmers problems. FEDCOT agriculture directorate committee members have been participate in such meetings and together solutions to the local formers problems are found . an in depth training camp was organised for committee members, from 8 to 12 November 2000. The management Committee members, Different directors and district co-ordinator participated in it. During the camp, a day was allotted for field research to stidy ther impact of shrimp farms and salt-ponds on the environment and people. FEDCOT’s food directorates and agricultures directorate jointly organised a seminar on 20 January 2001 at Chennai. The theme of the seminar was “Food Security”. FEDCOT representatives and several consumer groups participated in the seminar. Several public welfare problems were taken up during this period and solutions found to most of them.
Salt – Ponds Impact on farm lands
The adverse impact of salt-ponds agriculture and drinking water in Tiruvarur taluk was brought to the notice of the State Government after field research.
Defaulted Agriculture Co-operative Society
The Agriculture directorate brought to the notice of the state Government the default and cheating to the tune of twenty two lacks caused in Agriculture Co-operative Society, Tiruthuraipundi.
Illegal mining of silicate sand
Vedaranyam taluk in Nagapattinam District has rare silicate, a non- metallic mixed with sand and silica, Tenants in the area were mining and illegally taking sand worth several crores of rupees. Attention of the state Government was drawn to take immediate action to stop the activity. A three- stage in-depth training camp was organised for representatives of agriculture directorate of FEDCOT in Kanyakumari . Focus of the first stage training was on – Welfare programmes to be implemented through panchayat – Need to create herbal medicine farms – ground water protection – Working of marketing groups – Food security – Current problem in Indian agriculture – Role of non-government organizations Participants were given training in field work - cum – demonstration on the following subjects : Hill area horticulture – Horticulture – Growing of rubber trees the second stage of the training camp was held in Chennai, the following issues were taken up : impact of genetically – modified seeds –Right of farmers adverse impact of chemical fertilisers it was decided that the agriculture directorate would represent not only consumers interest but also violation of human rights. The third stage of the training was organised in Tiruvarur. The following subjects were taken up for discussion , - The benefits of Agricultural Marketing Committees to the formers. – Representation of consumers in the marketing committee A second field work was conducted to assess the impact of excessive rain water on the cultivating fields to find out whether the relief measures and benefits from Government welfare schemes reached the farmers. Field work revealed that the relief money granted by the Government did not reach the farmers. Cheating by officials and default had taken place amounting to several lacks of rupees, On the basis of the evidence collected by FEDCOT it was decided to file a public interest litigation. It was decided to make efforts to assess the working of – Regulated markets - Co-operative marketing society, Sale of agricultural produce in the state by the directorate From 16 to 18 August 2002 an intensive training camp was organised in Tiruchy, Mr.S.Ramanathan , Director of Tamilnadu Paddy research centre, Aduthurai, participated in it and gave valuable information on the theme. A manual was released.
Training was given in the following subjects :
Role of Cultivation in Agriculture
Impact of uncontrolled exploitation of ground water
Nature in Agriculture
Role of Women in Agriculture
Marketing Management in Agriculture
Farmers Market and Consumer Welfare
Food Security in Agriculture Education today
Dr.Natrajan pointed out that FEDCOT communicated that ideas, concepts and things to a lot of people through its splendid network and said that all help and support should be given to it. In the planning committee meeting held under the chairmanship of Prof.P.Duraisingam, it was pointed out that out of 270 regulated markets in Tamilnadu. Very few were functioning. The way in which some of them were working was far from satisfactory. It was decided to find the causes for improper functioning and the methods to make them function better and to place the finding before the Government. It was planned to study the working of five regulated markets in each district and interview five formers five traders. The information thus gathered would from an integrated report, which would be submitted to the ministers and officials concerned. In the committee meeting held on 26 th march 2003 the following issue were taken up for discussion :- Water management – Over exploitation of ground water by a multinational company producing soft drinks in sivagangai results of the field work on regulated market in the form of a book.
FOOD AND PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION – DIRECTORATE
Food is basic necessity of human kind. Therefore it is the responsibility of any welfare state to provide not only adequate food but to ensure safe food for all. A state level workshop was organised involving government and non-government organisations to revamp the public Distribution Systems (PDS).
Objectives of the workshop
To study the functioning of PDS system in other states in India. To evaluate the functioning of PDS in Tamilnadu on the basics of the experience. – To suggest workable proposals and the launch campaign against malpractices.
Representatives from various states were invited to present papers detailing the PDS model followed in their respective states. – Special papers were read by experts (not connected with government) in Tamilnadu to critically evaluate the functioning of PDS –Representatives of various trade unions of workers engaged in the PDS system were invited to participate in the discussion – Proposals of this colloquium were submitted to the State Government for implementation.
Programme to explain CODEX ALIMENTARIUS
The Codex Alimentarius was established by the food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the world health organisation (WHO) in 1962 to harmonise food standard among countries its purpose is to protect the health of consumers (by ensuring the provision of sound wholesome food) and to ensure fair practices in the food trade. It has a membership of over 165 countries according for 98% of the world’s population. Consumer international represents the global consumer voice at Codex Alimentarius. It’s members attend the codex committee meetings. It works to ensure that decisions taken by these committees provide the highest level of protection for consumers across the world. FEDCOT decided to prepare a brief note in Tamil on Codex Alimentarius to explain to the member councils and then public it later.
Campaign against junk food in and around educational institutions.
It is observed that a lot of junk food is gradually invading educational institutions and hence the need for taking initiative of a pilot nature so that it could gradually be extended to the other towns. It was planned to have the pilot programme for the campaign in Madurai, Madras (Now Chennai) Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli. Two consumer activists from each member council of FEDCOT were identified and given one-day orientation training in Madras. Experts from the Central Food Technological Research institute (CFTRI), Mysore, were invited and they addressed the participants on all aspects of junk food and its effect especially on young students in schools, These activists were to go back to their town and form a team and this team was identify five educational institutions to launch the pilot programme. Communication with the schools would have to be through personal contact and then in each of the schools, five different individuals would have to be identified, namely the Principle or Headmaster, one representative of the parent – teacher association, three teachers of whom one would be a PT teacher or the warden of the hostel, if any The section of the teachers was to be made far as possible in consultation with the consumer activists so that no teacher was forced to serve on this committee. After selection of the persons a one-day training was to be given. After the one day programme each of the schools would try different ways of implementing the programme, After a certain period, the pilot programme would be evaluated the different experiences in the five different schools were to be recorded. The implementation would continue for the rest of the year. On the basis of the success of this pilot project, this scheme would gradually be extended to other towns in the years to come.
Consumer plaza for detecting adulterated food
It is realised that effective steps are needed to educate the citizens about detection of adulterated food. A pilot project was carried out in the following places: Madras, Salem, Villupuram, Thanjavur and Nagercoil. From each of these towns and surrounding areas professors of chemistry, who were willing to associate themselves with this programme, were selected the selected professors were given special training for two-days in Madras in the methods of detecting adulteration of ordinary food-stuffs used by common people. They were given a kit for the purpose. After this training plazas were announced in each of the places mentioned above, with an interval of at least three weeks between each of the plazas. As a first step, in each of these towns selected, an action committee was formed comprising representatives of all members councils of FEDCOT from these towns. Each of these action committees would take the message to this consumer plaza through all educational institutions, eventually it would spread among the public, Handbills and posters were used to inform the public about the plaza and inviting them to bring the food-stuffs brought from outside to be checked in the plaza, parents and school children could bring the foods for adulteration test to the plazas. Based on the experience of this pilot project the programme was extended to other areas. FEDCOT Chairman Mr.R.Desikan served as a member of the state level special committee to revamp the functioning of ration shops in Tamilnadu and its recommendation was sent to the Government, FEDCOT and HIVOS together organised state-level seminar on ‘public distribution’ . ‘Food Security’ and ‘Social Welfare Schemes’ from 31 January to 1 February 1998. Mr.A.K.Venkadasubramanian, Special officer to the Chief Minister, in his special address, requested FEDCOT to join other organisations and study the public distribution system in the state and point out its shortcomings and suggest measures to improve it. Mrs.Shantha Sheila Nair, the then Commissioner of the Tamilnadu Government Consumer Protection Department, stated that her Department would consult FEDCOT about Public Distribution System twice a month.
Intensive Training by Food and Public Distribution Directorate:
Intensive training camp was held from 25 May to 1 junre 1999 in yercaud Brightsun Matriculation School. Mr.A.Ashokan, director, Food directorate spoke on “Food Security at the National and World Level and the impact of Globalisation on Food Security”. Mr.D.Anandhasayanam, legal director – FEDCOT spoke about food production, the no of people who live with hungry stomachs, diminishing cultivating lands and Monsanto seeds, On the second day, Mr.Nizamudeen joint secretary, talked about the role of environment in food security , Prof.Peer Mohamed Spoke on Food Standard. Mr.Fatimson talked about food security in the post Green Revolution period. Field work was carried out on the third day, Prof .Duraisingam, Treasurer FEDCOT shared his experience in Ramanathapuram District with the trainees. Prof. Victor Louis of St.joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli, Discussed briefly on National and International Socio-economic political and cultural scenario, On the fifth and final day Mr.Xavier Arokiyasamy, director training directorate, talked about the role of women in food Security. In Co-ordination with confederation of consumer council New Delhi, FEDCOT’s food directorate arranged for a seminar on Citizens Charter for public distribution in Chennai on 17 and 18 September 1999 the participants were Members of food Directorate on behalf of consumers. High officials of policy decision making department, and Representatives of fair price shops, In the seminar a new report was prepared after analysing the citizens Charter on PDS Consumer international and VOICE, New Delhi, jointly organised South-Asian level three-days seminar on food security and genetically modified food in New Delhi from 14 to 16 February 2000, Mr.A.Ashokan, Director , Food Directorate, FEDCOT participated in the seminar and have his valuable suggestions, On behalf of FEDCOT’s food directorate, a one day seminar was organised in salem on 28 October 2000 FEDCOT’s General Secretary, Chairman Food Directorate director and treasurer participated in it and have their Distribution Directorate selected its members for 2001 – 2002 A three stage training was planned the first stage training was organised in Pondicherry. It focused on Role of women in food security – Food Security- Correct Measurement food security in natural farming food and public distribution food security and globalisation genetically modified food training was given to the members in field work which included interviewing to formers to gather information’s on the above mentioned subjects. It was planned to educate people about the harmful effects of genetically modified seeds and to create awareness among them about public distribution and packaged food and to bring milk and milk products under PDS. Moreover members learnt from field survey the adverse impact of chemical fertilisers. The second stage of the training was held in Chennai. In his training members were given information of globalisation and food security the current position of PDS etc. the third stage of the training was held in salem besides planning for the activities of the directorate the following were planned for the year to request the authority concerned to ban the protection of genetically modified seeds quality protects for all at all times through public distribution prevention of food adulteration by making quality mark statuary and to create consumer awareness in this regard Food directorate’s three day intensive training and planning meeting was held in Salem from 30 August to 1 September 2002 Justice D.Ramachandran of the consumer Graveness Redressel Forum Salem inaugurated the training session and gave special address lecture –cum-training was given to the members on the following topics working of public distribution system balanced diet for healthy life impact of pesticides and chemical fertilisers production on food the need for natural forming Methods to detect adulteration right to food Fast food restaurants prevention of food adulteration by legal procedure Roadside restaurants Food itself is medicine Food security it was decided to conduct survey of roadside restaurants on 22 December 2002 Members were divided into three groups region wise Road side restaurants from Truchy to Chennai were studied during the survey 658 passengers travelling by government and private buses were contracted. These buses stopped near the road side restaurants the results of the study are – 58.88% of the respondents were of the view that the hygienic condition were bad – 34.44% of the respondents said that the quality of the food was bad the remaining 2.68% respondents did not offer their views Packaged foods like biscuits, Chocolates, Mineral water and cool drinks were sold at a higher price than the maximum retail price. On 28 and 29 March 2003 a meeting was held in Villupuram to self evaluate the training and campaign against roadside restaurants; About 20,000 Handbills were prepared covering the following issue Asking people to be careful when they eat in the roadside restaurants Highlighting the problems in roadside restaurants with respect to hygiene, quality of food Unhygienic surroundings of the restaurants and methods to avoid eating in these restaurants, Handbills were prepared and distributed in Villupuram old bus stand, New bus stand, M.G.Road, Periyar Road,Hospital Road, Central Telegraph office, Kamaraj Street, Nehru Street, etc to create awareness among people about the bad effects on their healthy by eating in roadside restaurants.
DIRECTORATE OF WOMEN CONCERN
State- Level exhibition on “Women Towards 2000”
EKTA the Madurai based organization had arranged for an exhibition on “women Towards 2000 A.D” From 25 to 28 February 1997. FEDCOT accepted the invitation of EKTA and arranged a stall with exhibits focusing on the theme “Rights of Consumer lead to rights of the women” The exhibits were widely appreciated by the public For the members of the women’s concern directorate a five day training cum workshop was arranged from April 25 to 29 1999 at Gandhigram (Dindugul District). The training focused on the necessity to act as movement when consumer rights and women’s rights are denied in the present India and world socio economic cultural and political situation FEDCOT officials Delivered lectures on the following topics : Women’s welfare and agriculture – Mr.K.R.Jeyaraman –Women in food security – Mr.A.Ashokan – Consumer rights and women – Mr.Xavier Arokiyasamy – methods to handle consumer complaints –Mr.D.Ananthasayanam – Women and healthy life schemes – Mr.S.Martin – women and local self governance – Mr.V.Damodaran Writer geetha addressed the members on “Indian’s Society Standard of Living”. Prof .Victor Louis delivered inaugural address. A training manual was brought out on Women’s problems and gender discrimination Mrs. Lucky Xavier, Director FEDCOT – women concern participated in the workshop on Gender conducted on 28 & 29 of September 1999 Every year November 25 is celebrated as UNO’s day of protest against violence on Women. On 25 November 1999 a dharna was organised in different places in the state to protest against violence on women posters and handbills were prepared and distributed to the public. A dharna was held in front og government hospitals to draw the attention of the Government about the difficulties undergone by women, Especially the way they are treated during delivery times at Government hospitals and uncivilised attitude of staff and other irregularities. Mr.M.Nizamudeen , General Secretary – FEDCOT organised a protest on 18 December 2000 against deaths caused by consumption of illicit liquor in Trivallur Member’s of the women directorate participated in the protest and called for complete prohibition of liquor. In march 2001this directorate organised oral presentation of feminist view and consumer rights among voluntary association, rural and urban women association and school and college students. The cause of women was put through Madurai Radio programmes also, For the year 2001-2002 members of the women welfare directorate were selected without any distinction between male and female members. A first stage intensive training was organised in Madurai, Lecture were given on the following topics – Gender Discrimination – Healthy life – Consumption culture – Women’s right in human right – Consumer protection laws- Women’s organisation songs research reports, wall posters preparation essay writing and cultural programmes formed part of teaching methods, FEDCOT Management committee members participated in the programme and encouraged the members who underwent training to practice what they learnt from the training. The trainees proclaimed unequivocally on the final day of the training that they have resolved to live without gender discrimination. To resist women enslavement and to share household duties equally. This was a success for the training The second stage of the training was organised in Chennai as part of the visit of the director of consumer international Lectures were given on the sexual abuse. Right on women body and changes due to globalization, In the third stage of the training, Besides 23 members, district women coordinators also participated. Lectures were arranged on the following topics: Association Experience , -Why association ? – Laws relating to women and – Action against violence on women Trainees resolved to fight against injustice to women in the society. To demonstrate FEDCOT’s interest in women’s welfare a three-day intensive training was organised in Tiruchy from 23 to 25 August 2002. It was decided to study the insults perpetrated on womanhood in TV serials and in obscene advertisements in the media, a report was prepared and brought out in the form of a booklet. With the help of experts, members were given training in the following subjects: - Role of women in voluntary organizations – present state of women’s education – Women is advertisements –Atrocities against women – problems of working women – Legal rights for women -Importance of mother’s milk –adverse impact of globalisation on women It was decided to study TV serials and TV advertisements from 26 August to September 15, 2002 and protest against the insults heaped on women hood as women are portrayed in a normally offensive fashion for selfish ends. These indecent advertisements and vulgar portrayal deny women their cultural respect in the society, A full and detailed report was prepared incorporating the findings. A function was arranged in tiruchy to release the report and give wide publicity to it. About 350 women from Democratic Women’s forum and women from self-help groups and collage went in procession and submitted the report to the district collector of tiruchy. A training to evaluate and revitalise the directorate was held in Chennai on 24 and 25 March 2003, As a follow-up it was decided to form a committee consisting of representatives from print and visual media, advertisement agencies and consumer groups, This committee would take steps to steps obscenity in advertisements. If TV and advertisement agencies fail to lend their co-operation it was decided to find legal solution.
PUBLIC UTILITIES DIRECTORATE
The provision of basic services such as banking, Insurance, water, transport and communications is of critical concern to all consumers. FEDCOT carries out research, policy development, training and advocacy towards consumer protection. For this purpose FEDCOT has Public utility directorate. This directorate under the leadership of Mr.C.M.Jeyaraman conducted a survey in 14 Districts of Tamilnadu with the help of NSS and MBA students who were trained by Bangalore P.A.C. The findings of the survey shows that Tamilnadu Transport department which was in the second place in Asia is fast deteriorating in providing quality service. It also show that people are not bothered about colour lights and stereo system – people want bus service at frequent and safe journey on 21 May 1998 Mr.G.Ambedkar Rajkumar Commissioner transport department t invited FEDCOT officials and discussed with them the findings of the survey under the leadership of Mr.K.V.Ezhilarasu the directorate of Public Utilities Conducted a training from 10 to 17 of July 1999 in the world university service centre Mr.D.G.Saranathan, Chief General Manager Telecommunications Chennai inaugurated the training Mr.A.K.Venkatasubramanian spoke about public utility departments and citizen’s charter. Mr.Y.Babu, General manager, spoke about the acts pertaining to telecommunications and consumer approach towards them Mrs.Geethspaul, General Manager (Finance) and Mr.V.S.Balakrishnan, Deputy General Manager Spoke about problems of consumer relating to telecommunications department and the means of redressel . on the second day, the following guests addressed the trainees on various topics Mr.V.S.Kandhasamy of consumer disputes redressel forum spoke about his experience in public utility cases Mr.Xavier director-training , FEDCOT spoke about responsibilities in public utility departments, a debate was organised on the topic, “For better service in public utility departments what is urgently required is proper planning honest administration and-consumer awareness “on the final day Mr.Pirai Arivazhagan, Genneral Secretary FEDCOT, Spoke about FEDCOT performance and benefit to the society Dr.M.S.Uthayamoorthy gave a special address on the “Significance of people’s power”the valedictory function was presided over by the chief justice Mr.N.Krishnaswamy, On behalf of FEDCOT’s Public Utility Directorate a survey of buses coming into bus station was undertaken by FEDCOT members and other NGO’s with the help of NSS students of schools and colleges, the survey was done continuously for 24 hours throughout the state. The following information about the buses was gathered ÆNumber of bus ÆCondition of the bus ÆRoof condition of the bus Æweather the bus is cleaned at the depot and comes clean to the bus-station Æ Whether the drivers and conductors are wearing batches and uniforms ÆTime at bus comes in and goes out of the bus-station As a result of the survey in different districts buses were repaired and kept in better condition. In the year 2000-2001 two state level seminars were arranged in Coimbatore. In the seminar the following issues were taken up for discussion ÆHousing FacilitiesÆDrinking water specialities ÆRailway specialities ÆElectricityÆTelecommunications, and ÆSolid waste disposal complaints in the supply of the above specialities were received and analysed. In the first seminar problem in the railway department were taken up they areÆNo significant distinction in the specialities provided by the superfast and fast trains Æimportant junctions are not taken into account ÆInadequate train facilities ÆLack of safe drinking water ÆHeigher price for food items it was decided to find out how the above problems in the telecommunications department, especially shortage of telecommunication facilities in the rural areas and delay in grievance redress were discussed and then brought to the notice of the officials concerned, In the second seminar held on 31 March 2001 problems of drinking water specialities were discussed. From the discussion the following points emerged ÆDiscrimination in the supply of drinking water ÆLack of hygiene ÆLack of hygiene in the overhead water tanks ÆLack of planning in the release of water from dams the seminar suggested to the government the methods to be adopted in times of water scarcity. The commissioner, Coinmbatore municipal Corporation, General Manager, BSNL and Deputy General Manager of Bharath state bank participated in the seminars. They came forward with valuable suggestions “Save ponds, tasks and lakes”was the sloga of the year on the basis of fiels research the campaigning will be done throughout Tamilnadu by FEDCOT the seminar decided to recomenned to the government the establishment of a public utility commission further a request wasmade to the Government to function with speed as seen in private sector and to avoid completion and evolve new technology so that the government sector benefits the people at large. The future action plan was discussed and it was decided to file public interest litigation on the basis of field research. Intensive training and planning session was held on 16,17 and 18 August 2002 at Coimbatore citizens voice club Prof.Pirai.Arivazhagan, Chairman FEDCOT inaugurated the training and emphasised the need for preserving natural resources especially drinking water Mr.C.M.Jeyaraman, Director, Public utilities –FEDCOT, Welcoming the gathering said that it was decided to preserve water bodies by launching a campaign Mr.Duraisingam, Treasurer- FEDCOT in his address, highlighted the need to protect tanks, rivers,lakes,ponds and tanks and prevent the private sector from encroaching upon the destroying water sources, The following experts addressed the gathering on various topics Prof.R.K.Sivanappan Rloe of voluntary agencies in water saving-Mr.Radhakrishnan – role preserving water- sources Mr.V.Ganesan, Engineer Pollution Control Board – way and means to control the wastage of water in homes and methods to preserve it – Mr.Ishtak Ahamed, High court lawyer – public interest litigation to preserve water sources – Mr.S.Kannappan, Manager , Public works department- Government’s role in preserving water bodies – Mr.Subramaniyan, Sales manager Dinamalar and Mr.K.A.Subramanian of the Hindu –Role of press in preserving water bodies members started the campaign with the help of the NSS students of the government arts collage Coimbatore, they visited the singanallur and valankulam lake and enlisted the support of the public around the area to protect water bodies, Mr.Raheem, District revenue officer told the members that government’s assistance would always be available to the public and voluntary organisations to protect groundwater resources. A refresher training was held on 8 and 9 March 2003 in Coimbatore, members of citizens voice club were thanked for their support to the activities of FEDCOT.
DIRECTORATE OF STANDARDS
The objectives of this directorate are to educate the consumers about their rights to get unadulterated and genuine products, to bring to the knowledge of the consumers the existence of the bureau of Indian standards, the importance of the ISI certificate and AGMARK seals for products etc and benefits accruing to the consumers. A workshop on quality of protects and quality determination was conducted in Chennai from 29 September to 2 October 1993, A committee was formed with the following members: Mr.R.Desikan , Mr.Parthasarathi, Mr.Henry Tiphange. Mr.Albert, Mr.Srinivasanarayanaswami , Mr.Xavier, and Mr.Ragupathi, retired Direcer-General of the Bureau of Indian Standards. The Committee Conducted a workshop on quality and quality determination, About 75 participants attended the workshop and learnt about standards of most items people buy in the market and ways to determine quality. They also learnt about the practical ways to approach the consumer’s problems.
Seminar on Indian Standards Determination
This seminar was organised in Madurai on 20 July 1994, About 50 consumer volunteers and FEDCOT members participated in it. This seminar covered all aspects of the functioning of the Bureau of Indian Standards, namely –product certification –Grading of products –Consumer problems –public complaints and –Indian quality control implementations departments functioning in this seminar Mr.G.Raman , Deputy director , Indian Standard institutions, Mr.S.Aravumudhan, Director Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Chennai, and Mr.T.R.Rajagobalan were guests of honour, During the interval in the afternoon, participants and officials of the BIS organisation did an unannounced testing in the traders premises and explained to them the principles of quality determinations, legal points and compulsory quality certification Prof.S.Peer Mohamed participated in the state level committee on standardisation for the state of Tamilnadu on 18 March 1996 at Chennai. He also participated in the standing committee on standards of weights and measures organised by the ministry of civil supplies and consumer affairs, New Delhi on 22 March 1996, 16 January and 17 February 1997, Prof.S.Peer Mohamed was elected member of the National Commission on Standards of weights and Measures of India for a period of two years. It was planned to examine the weight of the commodities supplied by 100 ration shops in Nagercoil on 29 November 1996, FEDCOT’s scale was used for the purpose. After kanyakumari, Nagappattinam district was chosen for this purposeThe move to do way with the marketing of maximum retail price (MRP) on the packaged food was successfully stopped by FEDCOT’s telegraph campaign. A one-day seminar was organised by this directorate in co-operation with the Mumbai based advertising standard council of India (ASCI) at Chennai on 10 January 1996. More than hundred advertising experts and consumer researches participated in it and reaped the benefits Prof.S.Peer Mohamed, Deputy Chairman of FEDCOT, participated in a meeting of the National Forum of legal metrology held in Delhi on 3 March 1998. This meeting was arranged by the secretary of the Indian Government Consumer Protection Council of FEDCOT got representation in 3 sub-groups among all the sub-groups of NFLM (National Forum of Legal Metrology). The planning committee meeting of this directorate was held on 10 May 1999, Mr.Swaminathan , Inspector of the Tamilnadu Weights and Measures and labour welfare department spoke on “Weights and measures and Law”. A manual brought out by the Tamilnadu Labour Welfare department entitled Weight and measures in Consumer welfare “was distributed was Mr.Kanakaraj, Tiruchirapalli stamp commissioner, explained how consumer were cheated by improper scales and weights then Mr.Rengaraj, Deputy Director, Agricultural Department, Tiruchirapalli, Spoke about the functioning of market committees in Tamilnadu and also the necessity to buy commodities with “AGMARK” Mr.Haneefa, Agricultural officer , Demonstrated the methods to find out adulteration in ghee, turmeric powder and cooking oil. Then future action plan was discussed. It was decided to carry out the following :- to find out the trading companies selling packed things without permission and report to the government – to find under-weight scales without Governments stamps and report to the department concerned – to check the weight of the commodities sold through Fair price shops throughout Tamilnadu. On 22 February 1999 a committee meeting of the weights and measures department functioning under the ministry of consumer Affairs was held in New Delhi. This is a sub committee of the national forum of legal metrology Prof.S.Peer Mohamed Deputy Chairman of FEDCOT participated in the meeting. The main function of this committee is inter-state verification of weights and measurements relating to 15 commodities moving from one state to another. In order to achieve the following objectives of this directorate several action plans were prepared amd implemented ÆPeople should get quality product and service Create consumer awareness against unfair trade practice ÆTo enable consumers to be familiar with laws relating to weight and measures To familiarise consumer with the methods to judge the quality of the products andÆprice control. This directorate with financial help of HIVOS organised a consumer awareness programme against unfair trade practice on 30 October 1999. 35,000 Handbills were printed and distributed in this connection. Weights and Measures. On behalf of FEDCOT Prof.S.Peer Mohamed participated in it. In the two meetings held on 15 May 1999 and 25 September 1999 it was decided to celebrate the world standards day in a grand manner on 14 October every year. In order to prevent consumers from falling a prey to advertisements during festivals and to create consumer awareness against unfair trade practices about 1,05,000 handbills and 3,000 wall-posters were prepared and distributed trough district co-ordinators. As a result of this Government and Police Department have banned various advertisements and discount sales.
AGMARK Awareness Camp
FEDCOT and Tamilnadu Government Marketing Department jointly organised an AGMARK awareness camp in salem on 15 and 16 November 1999. On the first day, simple demonstration was given to find out food adulteration in various parts of salem city. An oratorical contests was held for students on the topic “How to stop food adulterastion”Prof.Pirai Arivazhagan FEDCOT General Secretary,FEDCOT distributed prizes to the winners of this contest. In the year 2000-2001this directorate organised an intensive training camp in Neyveli for members, The focus of the first stage of the training was on the following : ÆTo take steps to ban discount sales to stop the sale of adulterated petrol and ÆTo take steps to establish AGMARK testing laboratory in all the districts of Tamilnadu. The second stage of the training was held in Chennai as a joint seminar of all the organisations of FEDCOT. This seminar took up for discussion the following items :ÆAdvertisements for sale ÆFree gifts for products It was decided that all campaigns and actions would focus on the above two points this year. All the members of this directorate took a vow that they would not drink cool drinks prepared by multinational corporations. The third stage of the training was held in cuddalore. Mr.Karthik, Zonal Manager of Indian Oil Corporation, Mr.Shanmugam, Director of AGMARK and Mr.Anavaradhan, Trade union representatives participated and gave suggestions for formulating the action plan. It was decided to protest against the obscene advertisements in TV and news papers and to study the impact of these offensive ads on society. Further it was also decided to study the quality of the food served in roadside restaurants. On the basis of the findings of this study, public interests litigation would be filed. This directorate in co-operation with the bureau of Indian standards took steps to create consumer awareness about quality certification. The message was planned to reach consumer groups, public and the representatives of trading organizations. This directorate was successful in making the quality certification mandatory for drinking water sachets. For the members of the directorate of standards a five day training camp was organised in kanyakumari from 26 to 30 July 2001. Mr.R.Paulraj Managing Director of Tamilnadu Government Transport Corporation, Inaugurated the training, All the speakers focused on standard and quality in products and its various dimensions. The committee meeting of this directorate was held in salem junior chamber. Mr.Kalyanam , General Manager of the Indian oil Corporation , participated in the meeting and gave valuable suggestions on cooking gas meant to create consumer awareness. This directorate conducted a field research on the quality of various products brought by the public and published a full report on it in the form of a book. It was a milestone in the history of FEDCOT. Tamilnadu Governments attention was drawn to the steps to be taken to create consumer awareness about ISI and AGMARK on products in urban and rural areas. “World Consumer Day 2001” and “World Standards day” on October 14 were celebrated in a grand manner, Efforts were made to create consumer rights awareness.
Compulsory quality certification for mineral water and ISO 9002, for gold.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and FEDCOT jointly organised in villupuram a seminar on “Indian Standards Institution and Consumers”. Mr.M.S.Nagarajan, General Manager BIS Southern Region and Mr.Anbarasu, Director participated in the seminar and emphasised the need for the consumer awareness about quality certification, Mr.Nagarajan spoke about the procedure to get ISI certification for mineral water bottles and sachets and ISO 9002 for gold, He highlighted the advantages of quality certification to the public more than 150 volunteers participated and benefited from this seminar.