Technology and Rural Consumers |
Out of the billion-plus population in the country, 70 per cent live insix hundred thousand villages. A large section of rural population of India iseither poor or belongs to lower middle class family. However, the purchasingpower of the some section of rural India is on steady rise and it has resultedin the growth of the rural markets. Rural market contributes to the 56% of thecountry’s GDP. Despite this rural consumers are exploited by the manufacturers,traders and service providers in different ways. Although, the consumers inIndia have been provided with various safety measures against theirexploitation, still the rural markets are full of sub-standard goods andservices. Sellers and producers are frequently cheating the consumers.Generally, consumers are exploited when they are not informed adequately aboutthe product and services. Several studies and experiences substantiate that anypolicies and programmes can only be effective if people have access to therelevant and time bound information. Therefore, efforts must be made to giveaccess to knowledge and information to educate people who constitute themajority of rural dwellers. Information technology is a great enabler. It empowers common man ifhe/she can use it. It can play a major role in their life if they can accessit. Thus a country like India, where almost seventy percent of the populationlives in the rural areas, it becomes utmost important that the benefits ofinformation technology must reach to the grassroots. This certainly will enablepeople in rural areas whether literate or not, to access all kind ofinformation about the product, services and also the policies of governmentwhich ultimately empower them socially and economically. The present paperfocuses on three main issues – current status of rural consumers, the programmesand schemes of Central as well State Governments meant for the e-governance andgood governance which tries to address the problems and grievances of ruralconsumers and lastly the relevance of technology in educating all sections ofrural society on the importance of consumer protection.