Every few days, Moneylife receives emails from subscribers or readers asking
for basic information on investments, insurance or how to file complaints
against banks or companies. We also receive queries from students on
information that is freely available on government websites. Here is a list of
links to information sources that will help you protect your rights.
Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG): In its own words, the CAG
verifies all expenditure and receipts of the Government of India. It also tries
to help local, panchayati raj institutions to strengthen their accountability.
Its website www.cag.gov.in is easy to access and provides a right to
information (RTI) link through which one can access sub-links to different
government departments, ministries, municipal entities and public sector
undertakings. Although the media devote little space to the findings of CAG
audits, it is the best source of information, especially for journalists,
activists and concerned citizens on how the government uses or misuses public
The Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF): It is a part of the
ministry of corporate affairs and has been carved out of investors’ money
that has remained with companies in the form of unclaimed dividends and other
corporate benefits for seven years. Its website – www.iepf.gov.in – provides
information on investment opportunities, regulatory structures for various
types of investment, the complaint redressal mechanism, FAQs and a link to the
InvestorHelpline – www.watchoutinvestors.com. Like most government
organisations, the Fund is now packed with representatives of various
ministries and has little representation from anyone who is directly involved
with investor issues with the result that it is rather ineffectual.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA): The insurance
regulator’s website – www.irda.gov.in – informs policy-holders of their
rights and duties. It contains plenty of information on insurance regulations
and guidelines, but does not have a clear and systematic way of addressing
Karmayog: This is an NGO that provides a web-based meeting ground
(www.karmayog.org) for thousands of activists, allowing them to share
information, experiences, seek funding and volunteers and acts as a support
group for various issues. It has turned into a regular e-meeting space for
media, activists, corporates and even those government officials who are
serious about public feedback on their actions. It also hosts blogs to discuss
specific issues and provides links to websites of a list of NGOs.
National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC): This is the apex
consumer court in the country. Its website (www.ncdrc.nic.in) provides an
important and interesting list of cases decided by it, which acts as valuable
feedback for anyone planning to file a consumer complaint at the district
level. While consumer courts are easy and inexpensive to access, the case
studies give people a good idea of how the process can drag on through multiple
stages of appeal by anti-consumer companies that often refuse to acknowledge
genuine complaints. It is important feedback for anyone who wants to embark on
litigation for grievance redressal. Having said that, the website is difficult
to search and is not at all interactive. It does have a list of contact numbers
and addresses of various officers as well as state and district consumer
commissions and their rules.
The Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov): This is a US organisation
which strives to protect the interests of consumers outside the country. It
believes that as the number of US companies doing business with other countries
increases, more and more international consumers come within its jurisdiction.
To register a complaint with the FTC, one has to email them and also fill out a
few paper forms. This website also lists a number of cases it has handled till
Spamcop: This too is an international website (www.spamcop.net) which
allows people to report spam and unsolicited emails that plague users. This is
a free website that strives to block spam email, but it requires you to follow
certain rules and regulations to be a member of this server.
– Sucheta Dalal & Yashika Krutik Shah