Right to Repair

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    • Union government sets up committee for developing framework on Right to Repair in India.

    About

    • The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Department of Consumer Affairs has formed a committee to develop a comprehensive framework for the Right to Repair in India.
    • The committee aims to generate employment through the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative and emphasizing the LiFE (Lifestyle for the Environment) movement.
    • The framework aims to provide easy access to overhauling services not only by original manufacturers but also by reliable third-party technicians to reduce costs and extend the life of devices, equipment, and home appliances.
    • The initiative aims to build a consumer-centric ecosystem to increase reparability and bring transparency through collaboration.
    • Previously, in the US, President Joe Biden issued an executive order in 2021 that included a directive for limits on how tech manufacturers could restrict repairs.

    What is Right to repair?

    • It refers to government measures that forbid manufacturers to impose barriers that deny consumers the ability to repair consumer products.
    • The sectors identified for the right to repair include : farming equipment, mobile phones/tablets, consumer durables, and automobiles/automobile equipment.
    • Government has launched a unified portal, https://righttorepairindia.gov.in, to onboard leading brands and reliable third-party technicians to provide easy access to overhauling services.
    • The portal has onboarded leading brands such as Samsung, Honda, Kent RO Systems, Havells, Hewlett Packard, and Hero MotoCorp.
    • The portal seeks to streamline trade between original equipment manufacturers and third-party sellers.
    • The right to repair has been recognized in many countries across the globe, including the USA, UK, and European Union.

    Importance of Right to repair for India

    • Reducing electronic waste: India is one of the largest generators of electronic waste in the world, and the right to repair can help reduce e-waste by extending the lifespan of electronic devices and appliances.
    • Lowering costs for consumers: By providing access to third-party technicians, the right to repair can reduce costs for consumers who may not be able to afford expensive repairs or replacement devices.
    • Promoting transparency and collaboration: The right to repair framework aims to build a consumer-centric ecosystem that promotes transparency and collaboration between manufacturers, sellers, and consumers.
    • Supporting small businesses: The right to repair can also support small businesses that provide repair services, by creating a level playing field with manufacturers who may have previously had a monopoly on repairs.
    • Empowering consumers: By giving consumers the ability to repair their own devices or choose where to have them repaired, the right to repair empowers consumers to make informed choices and take control of their own devices.

    Challenges of implementing right to repair in India

    • Lack of Awareness: Consumers lack awareness about their rights to repair and the benefits of repairing their devices leading to a lack of demand for repair services, limiting the growth of the repair industry.
    • Limited Access to Information: Many manufacturers do not provide adequate information to consumers about repair options or how to repair devices, which can make it difficult for consumers to exercise their right to repair.
    • Limited Availability of Spare Parts: The availability of spare parts is often limited in India, particularly for older or less common models of devices makes it difficult for repair technicians to perform repairs or for consumers to find reliable repair services.
    • Opposition from Manufacturers: Some manufacturers may oppose the right to repair, arguing that it could compromise their intellectual property rights or lead to safety concerns making it difficult to pass legislation or regulations to support the right to repair.
    • Lack of Regulation: Currently, there is no comprehensive regulation in India that governs the right to repair which can lead to confusion among consumers and repair technicians about their rights and responsibilities, and may limit the growth of the repair industry.

    What more can be done?

    • Government can aim to bring transparency through collaboration and building a consumer-centric ecosystem to increase reparability.
    • Manufacturing companies can take steps to reduce costs and increasing the shelf life of devices, equipment, and home appliances.
    • Empowering consumers through clean energy transitions on World Consumer Rights Day 2023.
    • Restricting manufacturers from imposing barriers that deny consumers the ability to repair consumer products.
    • Streamlining trade between original equipment manufacturers and third-party sellers.
    • Seeking to address the issue of planned obsolescence and the resulting electronic waste in the country.

    Conclusion

    • With the rise of electronic waste in India, the right to repair is becoming more crucial than ever. The unified portal has already onboarded leading brands, and the government is taking measures to encourage more companies to join. 
    • The right to repair will not only benefit consumers but also contribute to a circular economy and reduce e-waste.

    Source: LM