Liquor, food and beverage counterfeiting most rampant in Uttar Pradesh

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 percent of the total number of counterfeit liquor cases in the country, over 50 percent 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 organization 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 has increased by nearly 15 percent between January and October 2019.

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

The association has taken on the task of nurturing the anti-counterfeiting ecosystem by sensitizing consumers, brands, and policymakers towards the menace of counterfeiting and creating awareness around the solutions. To take this mission forward, it organizes 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 the judiciary in combating counterfeiting.

He said, “It is recognized 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 specialized knowledge,” Sarin said.

“Judiciary is taking center-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 percent 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.