A Great Opportunity for NRIs to Get Involved in India’s development

By Bhamy V. Shenoy

I want to share a great opportunity but simple way to get involved in fighting corruption and poverty in India, a cherished goal of all of us. You can achieve this from the comforts of the house. This is based on my experience of working with two NGOs – one in Delhi and the other in Mysuru.

I have been associated with a Delhi based NGO, Consumer Voice (https://consumer-voice.org). Additionally I have been involved in Consumer Movement in Mysuru where I had founded Mysuru Grahakara Parishat in 1989. CV has the right vaccination to fight the corruption virus. But they need your help to administer it.

More than likely, you might already be involved in helping several worthy causes in India. I implore those of you who have a better appreciation of what a vibrant consumer movement can do, may be interested to help Consumer Voice to establish a world class “CONSUMER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH INSTITUTE” in Delhi. We all know what a vibrant consumer movement started by Ralph Nader achieved in the US.

Funds needed are just one million dollars for the construction and launching of the CV facility. The following para briefly gives you an idea of what CV has been doing. To learn more, please visit their web site. I am sure you will all be impressed and wonder how you have not heard of such a fine institution.

As a first and immediate first step, please subscribe to their monthly magazine which gives useful information to buy the right product. Subscription Cost is just Rs. 150 ( less than per year and the details to subscribe are on the website.

VOICE is an acronym for Voluntary Organization in Interest of Consumer Education which has pioneered the protection of consumers in India. Based in New Delhi, the organization has championed consumer education in the country since 1983. Former Justices of Supreme Court, P N Bhagwati and V M Tarkunde were some of the founders of CV.

Over the years, VOICE has been representing consumers and protecting their interests with policymakers, the judiciary and statutory regulatory bodies. From 1991 onwards, VOICE has been spearheading an independent and non-partisan program on “comparative testing of products” with the technical support of Stiftung Warentest of Germany.

VOICE activities have been supported by the government of India’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs besides other ministries and departments.

VOICE provides independent and unbiased reviews of food products, consumer durables, financial and banking services and much more. It also runs a legal helpdesk for consumers.

Let me end my request with an example of Mysuru Grahakara Parishat, a consumer protection NGO. It played some role in practically eliminating corruption in Public Distribution of Kerosene and residential LPG by exposing the quantum of corruption and ways of reducing it since its inception.

Distribution of these two products used to generate as much as Rs. 50,000 crores of black money ( about six billion dollars) per year. This was really the mother of all corruption. Thanks to the application of direct benefit transfer to the banks by the current government, this kind of corruption is practically eliminated today. Since Consumer Voice is helping the government to shape policies affecting consumer interests, it can play similar role in bringing about systemic changes resulting in reduction in corruption.

It is worth recalling the words of Swami Vivekananda “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.”

( Bhamy V Shenoy, bhamysuman@gmail.com. Phone: 346-812-2783)