Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cracked the whip to curb misleading advertisements through a new regulatory mechanism. Making clear that it wants a speedy implementation, the PMO also asked the consumers affairs ministry to prepare the first draft of the mechanism in a month.
“It will be in place within a year," a source told HT. Sources signalled that the government brass is unhappy with the current mechanism and wants a regulatory body with more teeth.
The issue was discussed in a recent review meeting of the PMO where the consumers affairs ministry too, felt the need of a regulator to curb misleading advertisements.
The PMO's intervention acquires significance in the backdrop of the increasing number of exaggerated product claims especially in ads touting anti-aging creams, fairness creams, weight loss programmes, and of vitamins or dietary supplements that may even harm consumers of such products.
There are also numerous instances of false testimonials to convince buyers, misleading prices and disparaging rival products.
While the information and broadcasting ministry lays down rules on what can be shown in ads, the industry in India enjoys self-regulation through the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which deals with complaints received from consumers and the industry.
Time-bound green revolution
In the meeting, the PMO also insisted on a time-bound implementation of its ambitious second Green Revolution.
The PMO gave a month’s time to prepare an action-plan for the programme while asking the ministry to achieve the targets by 2017.