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India has been observing 15 March since 1989 as the National Consumers’ Day. This day has a
historic importance as it was on this day in 1962, when the Bill for Consumer Rights was moved in
the US Congress. During his speech President John F. Kennedy had remarked:



“If a consumer is offered inferior products, if prices are exorbitant, if drugs are unsafe or worthless,
if the consumer is unable to choose on an informed basis, then his dollar is wasted, his health and
safety may be threatened, and national interest suffers.”



John F. Kennedy had equated the rights of the ordinary American consumer with national interest.
He gave the American consumer four basic rights:



The Right to Safety - to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health
or life.

The Right to Choose - to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services
at competitive prices: and in those industries where competition is not workable and Government
regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.

The Right to Information - to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful or grossly misleading
information, advertising, labeling, or other practices, and to be given the facts s/he needs to make
an informed choice.

The Right to be Heard - to be assured that consumer interests will receive full and sympathetic
consideration in the formulation of Government policy, and fair and expeditious treatment in its
administrative tribunals.

Kennedy recognised that consumers are the largest economic group in the country’s economy,
affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. But they were also the
only important group who were not effectively organised, whose views were not heard.

Therefore, the Federal Government, by nature the highest spokesman for all people, had a special
obligation to the consumer’s needs. Thirteen years later President Gerald Ford felt that the four
rights constituted in Kennedy’s Bill of Rights were inadequate for a situation where most consumers
are not educated enough to make the right choices. So he added the Right to Consumer Education,
as an informed consumer cannot be exploited easily.



While these rights served the interest of the American consumer well enough, they did not cover the
whole gamut, because a global consumer did need, apart from them, other well-defined rights like
basic needs, a healthy environment and redress.
The Consumers International (CI), former International Organisation of Consumer Unions (IOCU), the
umbrella body, for 240 organisations in over 100 countries, expanded the charter of consumers
rights contained in the US Bill to eight, which in a logical order reads:



1. Basic Needs

2. Safety

3. Information

4. Choice

5. Representation

6. Redress

7. Consumer Education and

8. Healthy Environment.

This charter had a universal significance as they symbolised the aspirations of the poor and
disadvantaged. On this basis, the United Nations, in April 1985, adopted its Guidelines for Consumer
Protection.

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Kennedy's Four Rights for US Consumers

  • 1. India has been observing 15 March since 1989 as the National Consumers’ Day. This day has a historic importance as it was on this day in 1962, when the Bill for Consumer Rights was moved in the US Congress. During his speech President John F. Kennedy had remarked: “If a consumer is offered inferior products, if prices are exorbitant, if drugs are unsafe or worthless, if the consumer is unable to choose on an informed basis, then his dollar is wasted, his health and safety may be threatened, and national interest suffers.” John F. Kennedy had equated the rights of the ordinary American consumer with national interest. He gave the American consumer four basic rights: The Right to Safety - to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health or life. The Right to Choose - to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices: and in those industries where competition is not workable and Government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices. The Right to Information - to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful or grossly misleading information, advertising, labeling, or other practices, and to be given the facts s/he needs to make an informed choice. The Right to be Heard - to be assured that consumer interests will receive full and sympathetic consideration in the formulation of Government policy, and fair and expeditious treatment in its administrative tribunals. Kennedy recognised that consumers are the largest economic group in the country’s economy, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. But they were also the only important group who were not effectively organised, whose views were not heard. Therefore, the Federal Government, by nature the highest spokesman for all people, had a special obligation to the consumer’s needs. Thirteen years later President Gerald Ford felt that the four rights constituted in Kennedy’s Bill of Rights were inadequate for a situation where most consumers are not educated enough to make the right choices. So he added the Right to Consumer Education, as an informed consumer cannot be exploited easily. While these rights served the interest of the American consumer well enough, they did not cover the whole gamut, because a global consumer did need, apart from them, other well-defined rights like basic needs, a healthy environment and redress.
  • 2. The Consumers International (CI), former International Organisation of Consumer Unions (IOCU), the umbrella body, for 240 organisations in over 100 countries, expanded the charter of consumers rights contained in the US Bill to eight, which in a logical order reads: 1. Basic Needs 2. Safety 3. Information 4. Choice 5. Representation 6. Redress 7. Consumer Education and 8. Healthy Environment. This charter had a universal significance as they symbolised the aspirations of the poor and disadvantaged. On this basis, the United Nations, in April 1985, adopted its Guidelines for Consumer Protection.