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Consumer courts have to be made more effective

 

The news that came three weeks before Diwali, the festival of lights and prosperity, is adding to the excitement. In these difficult times, when the whole world, including the US, Europe, and China, are trembling from fear of recession, only seven countries have dodged the bullet. India is one among them. How did India get this special place? Our vast consumer base, self-sufficiency in food, and a rapidly growing population of our professionals, and their passion are the answers.

We’ll talk later about farmers, who ensure our food security. For now, let’s look at professionals and consumers. What are their current circumstances? Before I answer this question, let me tell you about the ordeal of one of my relatives. She is a doctor by profession and this happened to her one fine morning a week ago.

Her driver was on leave, so she decided to use Ola or Uber like a young professional. She began by booking a cab through her mobile app and received the confirmation message right away, along with the taxi’s details. She expressed her delight, saying, “Hey, now I don’t need a driver.” However, she had no idea what difficulties she would face in the next hour.

She rushed towards the lift so that the cab driver would not have to wait. Her apartment is on the 17th floor of one of Noida’s best societies. The lift had just begun to descend when the power went out. The builder, who sold flats for crores of rupees, had not made any arrangements to ensure that the lift operates normally during a power outage. The next few minutes were filled with darkness and dread.

As she stepped out, she was surprised to see in her taxi app that the cab had remained where it had been at the time of confirmation. It had not moved an inch. The doctor called the call centre and after more than 10 minutes of frantic effort, the driver cancelled the ride. The poor young woman called a cab again, but the same thing happened. The third driver cancelled the ride when he was almost at the pickup location. As a result, her account was debited by 40. She could have gotten this money back by filing a complaint, but the issue isn’t about money. These seemingly insignificant incidents had bothered the doctor and the patients who had an appointment with her.

Apart from poor drivers, the perpetrators in this entire episode included an online taxi service, an electricity distribution company, and a well-known builder. They all do billion-dollar deals, but what do they do for their customers’ comfort? It is not just a young doctor’s ordeal. Several people face these difficulties everyday.

In India, there is an urgent need to rein in industries that take advantage of government schemes. The attitude of some multinational corporations is worse. Consider automobile manufacturers. Their security standards differ significantly between developed countries and developing countries such as India. The ones in the developed countries are concerned with our hard-earned money, but do not concern themselves with our lives, safety, or the environment.

It is not uncommon to receive an SMS informing you that money has been withdrawn from or deposited in your bank account, or that your alternate phone number has been activated. An electricity company may send you messages requesting that you pay an outstanding bill. I know a customer who has told a bank that he does not have an account with it, but receives email updates from that organisation. He suspects that such activities are being carried out by an anti-social or fraudulent element. The individual continued to send mail but did not receive a satisfactory response. He filed a complaint with the banking ombudsman, but has yet to receive a response though months have passed. Now he has no clue what to do. Is there any way for him to exercise his rights?

If we examine the infrastructure and statistics for complaint redressal and consumer rights, we are rendered speechless. In the country, there are currently 629 District Consumer Courts and 35 Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions where one can file a claim for compensation of up to 20 lakh against consumer goods producers, sellers, and service providers of different kinds. The unpleasant reality is that 4,029 of the 550,000 cases currently pending before these courts and commissions are 22 years old.

The time has come to increase the number and effectiveness of consumer courts in the country. The powers of regulatory agencies and commissions require an urgent boost as well. Protecting the rights of the vast consumer class against which we are defending our economy is critical for the economy’s survival and long-term growth as well.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. Views are personal.

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MEXT Scholarship 2025

JAPANESE GOVERNMENT (MEXT) SCHOLARSHIP FOR 2025 (RESEARCH STUDENTS)

The Embassy of Japan in New Delhi has announced invitation for Indian students to apply for MEXT fellowships to pursue Master’s and Ph.D. studies in Japan. The deadline for application submission is May 3rd, 2024. For further details, please refer to the attached flyer. We request that you share this information with your contacts who may be interested in this opportunity.
Type Research Students
Level Graduate school level
(Research/Masters Course/Ph.D. course)
Age Under 35 years old (Applicants, in principle, must have been born on or after April 2, 1990)
Fields of study (A)Humanities (B)Social Science (C)Mathematical Science (D)Physics (E)Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (F)Biology and Biotechnology (G)Agriculture and Fishery (H)Environmental Science (I)Pharmaceutical Science (J)Geology and Geoinformatics (K)Civil Engineering (L) Architecture (M)Material Science / Engineering (N)Electrical Engineering (O)Electronics & Communications Engineering (P)Mechanical Engineering (Q)Aerospace Engineering (R)Robotics (S)Information Technology (T)Sports Science
Qualifications and Conditions In addition to the Qualifications and Eligibility Criteria listed in the Guidelines, the following would apply:

1.For Master’s course / Doctoral course (first phase)
Bachelor’s Degree in the relevant field with minimum 70% marks. The candidates should obtain their mark sheet and degree on or before September 30, 2025 for the October 2025 batch.

2. Doctoral course (second phase)
Master’s degree in the relevant field with minimum 70% marks. Candidates should have practical research/teaching/work experience after obtaining the prescribed qualification on or before 30th September 2025 for the October 2025 batch.

Term of scholarship Non-regular students:
The scholarship period will start from April, September or October 2025 until the end of March 2027.
*From last year, research only (non-regular) course is abolished.

Regular students enrolled in master’s, doctoral, or professional graduate courses:
Regardless of the date of arrival, the scholarship period shall be the necessary period for the completion of the respective regular course (hereinafter referred to as “the standard period of study”. See “13. ACADEMIC PATHWAY FOR RESEARCH STUDENTS” for the standard period of study for each course).

Number of scholarships To be announced
Stipend 1.Students receiving the preparatory education and non-regular students: 143,000 yen (Approx. Rs.78,600) per month
2. Regular students enrolled in master’s or professional degree courses: 144,000 yen (Approx. Rs.79,200) per month
3. Regular students enrolled in doctoral courses: 145,000 yen (Approx. Rs. 79,700) per month.
Education fees Exempted
Traveling Expenses Round-trip airfare will be provided
How to apply and where to send the completed forms The document screening will be conducted on the basis of the preliminary application form given below. If you wish to apply, please e-mail the form (as an attachment) to us. The last date of submission of the application form is 3 May, 11.59 pm.

Please note that the file should be a Microsoft Word file only and should not exceed 1 MB. Applications received at the following email id only, shall be considered as submitted application form.

The Preliminary Application Form
Email: scholarship-india@nd.mofa.go.jp

Application received after the aforesaid date and time will be automatically rejected. Also, files in other formats such as scanned copies of hand written documents, pdf, PowerPoint, google drive, link to google drive, google docs etc. will also be rejected automatically

No supporting documents are required to be submitted with the preliminary application.

You will only submit the application form along with supporting documents as mentioned in the guidelines if you are shortlisted after the Preliminary Application Form Screening round.

Schedule of the Preliminary Selection Application Deadline (must): 3 May 2024

Application Screening: May 2024

Notification of result of Preliminary Application Form – 4th Week of May

Written Examination: 15 June 2024

Interview: June 15-17

* After the written test, interview will continue from June 15, 3pm onwards, and it will continue for the next two days. You are therefore advised to make necessary arrangement to attend the interview.

Contact Japan Information Centre (JIC),
Embassy of Japan,
50-G, Shantipath, Chanakyapuri,
New Delhi – 110021.
Tel: +91-11-46104865

We will try to answer your genuine queries as much as possible but avoid calling us for confirming information already mentioned in the guidelines/website or for trivial questions.

Past Examination questions are available! https://www.studyinjapan.go.jp/en/planning/scholarship/application/exam

 

See/Download Application Guidelines

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Electric Vehicle Policy

E-Vehicle Policy Approved to Promote India as a Manufacturing Destination for e-vehicles

The Government of India has approved a scheme to promote India as a manufacturing destination so that e-vehicles with the latest technology can be manufactured in the country. The policy is designed to attract investments in the e-vehicle space by reputed global EV manufacturers.

This will provide Indian consumers with access to latest technology, boost the Make in India initiative, strengthen the EV ecosystem by promoting healthy competition among EV players leading to high volume of production, economies of scale, lower cost of production, reduce imports of crude Oil, lower trade deficit, reduce air pollution, particularly in cities, and will have a positive impact on health and environment.

The policy entails the following: –

  • Minimum Investment required: Rs 4150 Cr (∼USD 500 Mn)
  • No limit on maximum Investment
  • Timeline for manufacturing: 3 years for setting up manufacturing facilities in India, and to start commercial production of e-vehicles, and reach 50% domestic value addition (DVA) within 5 years at the maximum.
  • Domestic value addition (DVA) during manufacturing: A localization level of 25% by the 3rd year and 50% by the 5th year will have to be achieved
  • The customs duty of 15% (as applicable to CKD units) would be applicable for a period of 5 years
  • Vehicle of CIF value of USD 35,000 or above will be permissible
  •  The total number of EV allowed for import would be determined by the total duty foregone or investment made, whichever is lower, subject to a maximum of ₹6,484 Cr (equal to incentive under PLI scheme).
  • Not more than 8,000 EVs per year would be permissible for import under this scheme. The carryover of unutilized annual import limits would be permitted.
  • The Investment commitment made by the company will have to be backed up by a bank guarantee in lieu of the custom duty forgone
  • The Bank guarantee will be invoked in case of non-achievement of DVA and minimum investment criteria defined under the scheme guidelines.

Press Release

Link of Gazette Notification of E- Vehicle Policy

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The Rising Sun Conclave

The Rising Sun Conclave Deepens India-Japan Business Relations

In the heart of New Delhi, amidst the bustling streets and the vibrant culture, an event of significant importance unfolded – The Rising Sun Conclave. This event served as a pivotal platform for connecting businesses, fostering people-to-people connections, and initiating constructive discussions aimed at enhancing the economic ties between India and Japan.

Organized by the visionary Nupur Tewari, a renowned personality with a mission to bridge the information gap and facilitate stronger ties between the two nations, The Rising Sun Conclave brought together key stakeholders from both India and Japan. The event showcased the rich tapestry of opportunities that lie in the bilateral relations, emphasizing the shared values and complementary strengths of the two nations.

One of the highlights of the conclave was the panel discussions featuring eminent representatives from leading business organizations of both countries. These discussions delved into various aspects of bilateral trade and investment, exploring avenues for collaboration and innovation. Experts exchanged insights on market trends, regulatory frameworks, and emerging sectors, offering valuable perspectives to the audience.

The people-to-people connect aspect of the conclave was equally significant. Entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals from diverse industries had the opportunity to network and forge meaningful relationships. These interactions laid the foundation for future collaborations and partnerships, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures and business practices.

Moreover, The Rising Sun Conclave served as a forum for dialogue on how to further improve the business conditions between India and Japan. Participants shared ideas and suggestions aimed at overcoming challenges, streamlining processes, and leveraging opportunities for mutual benefit. From enhancing trade facilitation measures to promoting technology transfer and skill development, a range of actionable recommendations emerged from the discussions.

Rising Sun Conclave
Rising Sun Conclave

In the wake of global uncertainties and shifting geopolitical dynamics, the importance of strong and resilient economic partnerships cannot be overstated. India and Japan, as two major economies in the Asia-Pacific region, have a strategic interest in deepening their collaboration. The Rising Sun Conclave exemplified the commitment of both nations to fostering closer ties and harnessing the full potential of their partnership.

Looking ahead, events like The Rising Sun Conclave will continue to play a crucial role in nurturing the India-Japan relationship. By providing a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and exchange, these initiatives contribute to the development of a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem that benefits businesses, communities, and economies on both sides.

As the curtains draw on The Rising Sun Conclave, the spirit of collaboration and partnership it has ignited will continue to illuminate the path towards a brighter future for India and Japan. With visionary leaders like Nupur Tewari at the helm, the journey towards stronger and deeper relations between the two nations is set to flourish, guided by the rising sun of opportunity and innovation.

Next Story
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Navigating Intellectual Property Strategies: Japanese Businesses in India’s Auto Sector

The automotive sector stands as a cornerstone of India’s industrial landscape, with robust growth and evolving dynamics. Japanese businesses, renowned for their technological prowess and innovation in this domain, have significantly contributed to India’s automotive industry.
As they expand their footprint in India, navigating intellectual property (IP) strategies becomes paramount for sustaining competitive advantage. This article delves into the intricacies of IP strategies adopted by Japanese businesses operating in India’s auto sector, supported by empirical data and insightful analysis.
Overview of India’s Auto Sector:
India’s automotive industry is one of the largest in the world, characterized by diverse offerings spanning two-wheelers, cars, commercial vehicles, and electric vehicles (EVs). With a growing middle class and increasing disposable income, India presents a lucrative market for automotive manufacturers.
Japanese Presence in India’s Auto Sector:
Japanese automotive giants such as Toyota, Suzuki, Honda, Nissan, and Yamaha have established a formidable presence in India. Their expertise in technology, quality, and efficiency has significantly influenced the Indian automotive landscape.
Importance of Intellectual Property in the Auto Sector:
Intellectual property serves as the bedrock of innovation and competitiveness in the auto sector.
Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets play pivotal roles in protecting innovations, designs, brands, and business processes.
IP Strategies Adopted by Japanese Businesses:
Patent Protection: Japanese auto manufacturers prioritize patent filings to safeguard their technological innovations.  These patents cover various aspects including engine technologies, safety features, fuel efficiency enhancements, and electric vehicle advancements.
Fact Sheet: According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Japanese auto companies collectively filed thousands of patents in India over the past decade. Toyota filed the highest number of patents among Japanese automakers in India, focusing on hybrid and electric vehicle technologies.
Trademark Management: Maintaining a strong brand identity is crucial for Japanese auto companies in India. They meticulously manage trademarks to protect their brand equity and prevent infringement.
Fact Sheet: Suzuki’s Swift and Honda’s Activa are among the most recognized trademarks in India’s automotive market. Nissan faced trademark disputes in India, highlighting the importance of proactive trademark management.
Collaboration and Licensing: Japanese auto manufacturers often engage in collaborations and licensing agreements with Indian counterparts to leverage local expertise and facilitate technology transfer while ensuring IP protection.
Fact Sheet: Suzuki’s partnership with Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) exemplifies successful collaboration, leading to the proliferation of Suzuki’s technology and models in the Indian market. Licensing agreements between Japanese and Indian companies have accelerated the adoption of advanced safety and emission control technologies in India’s auto sector.
Litigation and Enforcement: Infringement of intellectual property rights remains a significant challenge in India’s auto sector. Japanese businesses resort to litigation and enforcement measures to protect their IP assets and deter unauthorized use.
Fact Sheet: Honda pursued legal action against counterfeit spare parts manufacturers, emphasizing the importance of stringent enforcement to maintain product quality and consumer trust. Toyota initiated legal proceedings to protect its hybrid technology patents from unauthorized use by domestic manufacturers.
Empirical Data Analysis: An empirical analysis of patent filings, trademark registrations, litigation cases, and collaboration agreements provides insights into the IP strategies of Japanese businesses in India’s auto sector. This data underscores the proactive approach adopted by Japanese companies to safeguard their intellectual property while capitalizing on India’s burgeoning automotive market.
Conclusion: In conclusion, intellectual property strategies are integral to the success and sustainability of Japanese businesses operating in India’s auto sector. By leveraging patents, trademarks, collaborations, and enforcement mechanisms, Japanese auto manufacturers can foster innovation, protect their investments, and maintain a competitive edge in India’s dynamic automotive landscape.
References:
1. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Reports.
2. Indian Patent Office Database.
3. Automotive Industry Reports and Market Analysis.
4. Legal Cases and News Articles on IP Enforcement in India’s Auto Sector.
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