How India plans to empower consumers and protect the environment with a right to repair law
India is one of the largest markets for consumer products such as mobile phones, tablets, consumer durables, automobiles and farming equipment. However, many consumers face difficulties in repairing their products when they break down or malfunction. They often have to rely on authorized service centers that charge high fees, have long waiting times, or do not have the required spare parts. Some manufacturers also design their products in such a way that they are difficult or impossible to repair by third parties, forcing consumers to buy new products instead of fixing their old ones. This practice is known as “planned obsolescence” and it has negative impacts on the environment and the economy.
To address this issue, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA) has proposed to introduce a right to repair law in India, aiming to provide consumers the ability to have their products repaired by third parties at an optimal cost. The right to repair law will also promote fair competition among service providers, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the repair sector, and reduce e-waste generation and carbon footprint.
The MCA has set up a committee to come up with a right to repair framework that will cover four important sectors: farming equipment, mobile phones and tablets, consumer durables, and automobiles and automobile equipment. The committee will consult with various stakeholders such as manufacturers, service providers, consumer groups, experts and regulators to devise a comprehensive and balanced policy that will protect the interests of both consumers and producers.
The right to repair framework will include various measures such as:
- Providing consumers with easy access to necessary information on repair and maintenance of products through a single portal (https://righttorepairindia.gov.in/)
- Ensuring availability of genuine spare parts and tools at reasonable prices
- Establishing standards and certification for repair services and components
- Creating awareness among consumers about their rights and responsibilities regarding product repair
- Providing incentives and support for local repair shops and entrepreneurs
- Enforcing penalties for violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices
The right to repair law is anticipated to be a game-changer for India because it will give consumers and product purchasers more power on the domestic market, harmonise trade between original equipment manufacturers and third-party buyers and sellers, and put an emphasis on encouraging sustainable product consumption and e-waste reduction. When it is implemented in India, it will serve as a template for other nations considering similar legislation12.
The right to repair law is not only a consumer right but also a social responsibility. It will help India achieve its goals of self-reliance, digital inclusion, green economy and circular economy. It will also create new opportunities for employment, innovation and growth in the repair sector. As consumers, we should support this initiative and demand our right to repair our products.