Anant Sharma

Ashoka Fellow
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Fellow Since 1989


This profile was prepared when Anant Sharma was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
As an undergraduate studying in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, Anant founded and led what ultimately became an influential, statewide, nonpolitical student group. In the course of representing student interests, he had an experience that left him enormously impressed with the potential of consumer protection. With the help of the Consumer Unity and Trust Society, he lodged a complaint against what he regarded as the highly misleading advertisements extolling the sure-fire prowess of certain exam guides to assure top grades to worried students for a fabulous price. The complaint led to notice being issued against the publishers. The advertisements were stopped and the prices were lowered--and Anant's plans began taking shape.
As consumer protection has remained largely an urban phenomenon, it seemed clear to Anant that the movement's most important challenge was to find ways to spread consumer awareness and action in the rural areas, still 80 percent of India. He thinks that the key to doing so is building up and getting a paraprofessional class of local consumer champions in place all across the state. This entails projecting consumer consultancy as an attractive career.
Such local "Consumer Friends" would serve as a bridge allowing wronged and frustrated villagers practical access to the remedies promised by the new Consumer Protection Act and other laws.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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