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Liquor, food and beverage counterfeiting most rampant in Uttar Pradesh
Friday, 08 November, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Liquor and food and beverages have the second- and third-highest number of cases of counterfeiting in India. While the states of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand account for 65 per cent of the total number of counterfeit liquor cases in the country, over 50 per cent of the food adulteration cases take place in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab.

These were among the findings by the Authentication Solutions Providers’ Association (ASPA), the world’s first and only self-regulated non-profit organisation that represents the entire as physical and digital authentication solutions industry globally.

They were released in the association’s report on counterfeiting in the country, which revealed that the incident of counterfeit cases in India have increased by nearly 15 per cent between January and October 2019.

ASPA and Messe Frankfurt India organised the third essay of The Authentication Forum, a two-day leadership summit which kicked off in New Delhi on Thursday. It was inaugurated by Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, India’s representative to G7 and G20 and former Union minster, who presided over the summit as its chief guest.

The association has taken on the task of nurturing the anti-counterfeiting ecosystem by sensitising consumers, brands and policymakers towards the menace of counterfeiting and creating awareness around the solutions. To take this mission forward, it organises the Authentication Forum annually.

In his address, Prabhu said, “I am very happy to attend this forum and see the commitment of the industry towards fighting counterfeiting. This Authentic Authentication forum is an assurance to the customer that his interest is protected and quality which is promised will be delivered.”

“Customer is king, and if he does not get the service or product of the promised quality, we have a problem, and we must find the best possible solution for this problem. We need to protect the customer’s interest and assure him of delivering the quality that he is paying,” he added.

“Technology is one solution to this problem. It can address this problem in a better way than before. We need to create a strong informed choice for customers and the government needs to play a crucial role in creating standards, guidelines to implementation, enforcement, and awareness,” Prabhu said.

The minister said, “It is important to engage with customers, to engage with government and other stakeholders and this platform brings everyone on the same platform.”

Manmohan Sarin, former Lokayukta, NCT of Delhi, chief justice, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, and judge, High Court of Delhi, delivered the keynote address on a critical aspect, the role of judiciary in combating counterfeiting.

He said, “It is recognised that counterfeiting, smuggling, and illicit trade has reached humongous levels in 2016 trade in counterfeit and pirated products amounted to as much as $509 billion as per an OECD study.”
“Counterfeiting results in loss of jobs curtail the growth of industries, the potential of creating havoc in healthcare systems by spurious drugs which can result in loss of human lives,” Sarin said.

“Socio-economic crimes, such as counterfeiting, infringement of trademark, copyright i.e., IP cases deserve to be dealt on priority and with the expedition. There is a need for judicial sensitivity and a proactive approach to preventing recurrence and the decisions to act as deterrents,” he added.

“Partly, this has been achieved by imposing punitive damages and costs which would pinch the offender. There is also a need for imparting training to all the stakeholders, prosecutors, enforcement agencies and members of the judiciary in this field, which requires specialised knowledge,” Sarin said.

“Judiciary is taking centre-stage in various issues of public interest and should play a pro-active role in this regard too. In many cases, we need to bring in judge-made law to fill in the vacuum to supply guidelines and/or adopt a judicial innovation approach to deal with the case,” he added.

“Apart from other initiatives, there is a need to create widespread awareness in consumers and industries and develop a mindset in which consumers also realize the harm which the use of counterfeit products can cause and begin to shun the same. This is, of course, the ultimate utopian goal,” Sarin stated.

“The Authentication Forum and its members can play a significant role in providing low-cost, easy-to-use technology as solutions for detecting counterfeit products from genuine ones,” he added.

Speaking at the forum, Nakul Pasricha, president, ASPA, said, “ASPA, as an industry association of anti-counterfeiting solutions providers, is trying its best to create awareness and support the government, industry and consumers in fighting counterfeiting and building up authentication eco-systems in the country.”

“We believe the leadership summit will empower industry, Indians and India in the fight against counterfeiting, the crime of the 21st century. We are enthusiastic to see the positive response and support from the government and industry in the fight against fakes and are confident that this powerful stage for anti-counterfeiting will enable key decision-makers at all levels to enhance their knowledge of anti-counterfeiting technologies and solutions to fight counterfeits,” he added.

Pasricha said, “Representing 3.3 per cent of world trade, counterfeiting is a critical risk for all companies, no matter where they are, and what product they make. The issue of counterfeiting and sub-standard products has been the cause of many major tragedies claiming many human lives, both worldwide and in India.”

“Counterfeiting is a problem, and we would like to work with industry captains and delegates to combat counterfeiting and lead India in achieving and becoming the $5-trillion knowledge-based economy,” he added.

Counterfeiting corrupts an economy in multiple ways by harming consumer rights, damaging brand equity, causing losses to industries and causing loss of government revenues.

The menace of counterfeiting causes revenue loss of approximately Rs 1 trillion ($14.7 billion) annually to the Indian economy, and curbing it could give a huge boost to economic resources of the country.

Be it food and beverages or liquor, almost every sector is witnessing the damage. Right from heavy tax losses to government to irreparable damage of brand images, counterfeiting is impacting our daily lives, and the rising intensity of this menace is a big risk for the knowledge-based, open and globalised economy.

The widespread and proper implementation of authentication technologies, enforcement, awareness, and monitoring can effectively curb counterfeiting.

Eminent personalities from renowned organisations from across industries, such as FMCG, e-commerce, packaging, crop protection, agriculture, fertilisers, pesticides, etc. spoke at the event.

Nityanand S Shenoy, governing body member, ASPA, and president and managing director, PRS Permacel Private Limited; Ali Mehdi, senior fellow and project leader, Health Policy Initiative, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER); Amartyaa Kumaar Guha, associate director, supply chain, Flipkart; Harendra Bana, associate director, security, India Region, PepsiCo; Col Aroon Nayagam (Retd.), national head, loss prevention, Future Supply Chain Solutions Limited (Future Group); Deepak Mittal, deputy general manager, quality assurance, Mother Dairy Fruits nd Vegetables Ltd; Ashraf Ali, anti-counterfeit manager, India, Bayer CropScience, and Rajesh Aggarwal, managing director, Insecticides India, among others, participated in various panel discussions.

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