The man who saw the Indian consumer as king… 

Homage to Manubhai - 2The father of the Indian consumer movement is no more. Prof Manubhai Shah passed away on 7 May 2016 after a prolonged illness at the age of 85. Manubhai’s journey, from a textile manager in Arvind Mills to an activist who spearheaded the nascent consumer movement in the country, is legendary.

Born on 25 August 1930, Manubhai joined Arvind Mills after finishing law school in 1952 and rose to the position of general manager in 1978. Passionate about consumer issues, he set up Consumer Education and Research Centre, Ahmedabad in 1978 with an initial corpus of just Rs. 250!

Four years later, in 1982, he sought premature retirement from Arvind Mills to completely devote his time and attention to the consumer cause. He was often asked why he gave up a promising career and devoted himself to social work. Manubhai’s reply: He wanted to repay his debt to society which had given him so much.

A visionary, he innovatively used common law to resolve consumer grievances by quoting international judgements even before the Consumer Protection Act was enacted in India in 1986. He played an important role in developing the CP Act and other legislations.

The range of issHomage to Manubhai - 1ues he picked up were wide – from contaminated municipal water to compensation in the event of an aircrash. For him, it was not the amount at stake that mattered but righting the wrong. He once said: “When I wipe the tears of a widow, daily wager or illiterate person, I feel good.”

A voracious reader, excellent orator and perfectionist, Manubhai had a sharp memory and was extremely fair-minded. Soft-spoken but extremely articulate, he was also a clever strategist. This ensured that CERC grew from strength to strength. His sense of humour and infectious laughter added to his charisma. His hospitality was well-known and for him no meal was complete without ice cream!

Manubhai was respected by all stakeholders – corporate sector, government, public sector, NGOs and consumer groups. For other activists and organisations in the consumer movement he was a mentor and guide.  He was able to draw the best talent to the consumer movement. He cultivated the media and they started reporting on consumer issues.

Dr V.G. Patel, CERC chairman, says about Manubhai: “CERC is what it is today because of his pioneering work and missionary zeal.”

Having worked with Manubhai for over two decades, I would say: “Despite his busy schedule, he had the patience to nurture his staff. He had the knack of identifying their potential and would handhold them in developing it.”

He believed in complete transparency and open governance at CERC as the organisation was run on public funds. During his illustrious career, he was associated with many institutions of repute. Over the years, several accolades came his way. The most fitting tribute to Prof Manubhai Shah would be to help fulfil his dream of making each Indian citizen an empowered consumer.


Pritee Shah

Chief General Manager, CERC
Editor, Grahak Sathi

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