Front of Pack Labelling, Food Labelling

Front of Pack Labelling, Food Labelling

Front-of-Pack Labelling

FOPL

Front-of-Pack Labelling (FOPL) refers to the nutrition labeling systems present on the front side of the food packages. FOPLs are based on nutrient profiling models. These profiling These profiling models either consider the overall nutrition quality of the product or/the nutrients of concern associated with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, etc. FOPLs often focus on presenting the nutrition information thoroughly and comprehensively.

Objective of FOPL

The objective of the FOPL policy is to inform consumers in a simple and fast way about the content of sugar, sodium and saturated fat & Trans fats to discourage the purchase of unhealthy packaged food. .

WORLD HEALTH DAY

Why is there a need to regulate consumption of HFSS (High in Fat, Salt and Sugar) Foods?

Nearly 5.8 million people or 1 in 4 Indians are at a risk of dying from an NCD before they reach the age of 70. Disease burden of NCDs increased from 30% ‘disability-adjusted life years’ (DALYs) in 1990 to 55% in 2016, with deaths due to these conditions increasing from 37% in 1990 to 61% in 2016. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for at least 27% of NCD deaths. Untreated and uncontrolled hypertension contributes to an estimated 1.6 million deaths annually in India – 57% of these deaths related to stroke and 24% related to coronary heart disease. India is also fast becoming a diabetes and cancer hotspot.

This crisis is being further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as persons living with NCDs face a greater risk of becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19. All of these conditions such as high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels and obesity are closely linked to unhealthy diets, and an excessive intake of sugars, total fats, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium. In turn, the excessive intake of these “nutrients of public health concern”, is largely driven by the widespread availability, affordability and promotion of processed and ultra-processed food products with unhealthy nutritional profiles. Reports indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic generated a unique opportunity for the food and beverage industry to thrive in low- to middle-income countries and expand their market of unhealthy, ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks.

Dr Chandrakant Pandav, President, Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), warns that there is no time is to be lost. “It is clear as day that our food environment needs to change drastically if we are to reverse the health crisis and safe guard our future generations. Even as we move to fortify our food, it is equally critical to equip people with information regarding harmful nutrients  in their food products including ie, high concentration of salt, sugar and fats, is an equally important strategy.”

With Front of Pack labelling, consumers can understand whether a food is specifically high in a nutrient, for example, protein or fiber, and compare it to other products as well.

 

Why FOPL

Research evidence suggests that FOPL makes nutrition information more accessible to consumers. Using the FOPL, consumers can make informed and healthy food choices. They can pick food items that are low in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and sodium.  A strong front-of-package label is one of the most efficient tools of influencing consumer behaviour to alter dietary choices and reduce their vulnerability to NCDs. According to Dr Barry Popkin, the W. R. Kenan Junior distinguished professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health sharing his experience from leading research on impact of FOPL  in multiple countries said, “In our ongoing evaluations we have found that all countries which have adopted warning label system of FOPL that are easy to interpret, have succeeded in reducing consumption of the most unhealthy ultra-processed foods and beverages. As suggested by available evidence, this is one of the most effective approaches to preventing obesity and nutrition-related NCDs like diabetes and hypertension. People need to understand clearly and simply what is in the food that they are buying. Food labels have to interpret the nutrition information for consumers across age, income and literacy levels.”

 

Types of FOPL

Why are interpretive FOPL systems much more effective


WHO Guiding principles and framework manual for front-of-pack labeling for promoting healthy diets:  
“Briefly, interpretive FOPL systems that use interpretational aids and minimize numerical information are most useful for aiding consumer comprehension of FOPL information”

Report from the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity: Recommendation 1.7: Implement interpretive front of-pack labeling supported by public education of both adults and children for nutrition literacy”

The UN Special Raporteur on the right to health: “Front-of-package warning labeling is a key measure for countries to tackle the burden of NCDs”.

 

 

India’s stand on FOPL

In 2018 the Food Safety Standards Authority India (FSSAI) published draft regulation for FOPL which was subsequently withdrawn for further deliberation. In 2020 December, FSSAI restarted the process of developing FOPL and has been in consultation with civil society, industry and nutrition experts for a viable model for India.

Proposed study on FOPL in India for Consumer perception

Objective of the Study:

  • To compare the  warning label, nutri-score labels, multiple traffic lights and GDA labels to no label in randomised control trial design in India.
  • Preliminary formative research will first be undertaken to identify the best warning label for inclusion in the RCT

 Primary outcomes: 

  • Lower intentions of purchasing a product high in salt, sugar or saturated  or trans fat
  • Perceived message effectiveness (extent to which the label makes participants worried about the health consequences of the product; makes the product unpleasant; discourages them from wanting to consume the product)

Role of Consumer VOICE

Consumer VOICE is playing an active role in advocating front of pack labelling in packaged foods to inform consumers on foods that are rich in fat, salt and sugar content and thereby regulating consumption of such foods.  Consumer VOICE has represented consumer organisations in several meetings conducted by the regulatory body FSSAI for the same. It has also sensitised consumers through articles by experts both on the print and social media platforms.

Outlook India - Strong Front Of Package Labelling Must To Stem The Scourge Of Non Communicable Diseases


Poshan Outlook India - Strong Front Of Package Labelling Must To Stem The Scourge Of Non Communicable Diseases


News18 - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग, 58 लाख लोगों में होता है मौत का खतरा


Dainik Bhaskar - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग, 58 लाख लोगों में होता है मौत का खतरा


Blog Spote - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग, 58 लाख लोगों में होता है मौत का खतरा


TEZ Live News - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग, 58 लाख लोगों में होता है मौत का खतरा


The Foodie Time - Non communicable diseases can be prevented in India with effective FOPL, 5.8 million people are at risk of death


A T Z News - Non communicable diseases can be prevented in India with effective FOPL, 5.8 million people are at risk of death


News King 24 - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग, 58 लाख लोगों में होता है मौत का खतरा


Hindi News live - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग: विशेषज्ञ


Web Dunia - Food package labels warning on sugar, trans-fats may help fight obesity, diabetes


UNI India - Food package labels warning on sugar, trans-fats may help fight obesity, diabetes


Financial News - Food package labels warning on sugar, trans-fats may help fight obesity, diabetes


The India Saga - Experts call for labelling of processed food to check disease burden


MSN - कारगर FOPL से भारत में रोके जा सकते हैं नॉन कम्‍युनिकेबल रोग: विशेषज्ञ
Why front of pack labeling (FOPL) is important

Why front of pack labeling (FOPL) is important

Why front of pack labeling (FOPL) is important

FOPL

With more than 135 million Indians obese and a sharp rise in childhood obesity, India is nearing a health flashpoint. Three conditions, namely high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar levels and obesity, are the main drivers of this disease burden in India. Front-of-package warning labelling (FOPL) represents a key component of a comprehensive strategy to promote healthier lives, as it enables consumers to identify in a quick, clear and effective way, products high in sugar, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats and total fats, the critical nutrients associated with the NCD burden in India.

Research evidence suggests that FOPL makes nutrition information more accessible to consumers. Using the FOPL, consumers can make informed and healthy food choices. They can pick food items that are low in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and sodium. Consumers can aim to have food items with low calories. Not only this, with the help of FOPLs, consumers can understand whether a food is specifically high in a nutrient, for example, protein or fiber, and compare it to other products as well.

FOPL symbol’s position on the food pack plays an essential role in capturing consumers’ attention. For example, when the position of FOPL is on the top right-hand side of the food pack (for individuals who read from left to right), its visibility increases. The size of the FOPL, compared to the other visual elements on the food pack, also plays a role in increasing its visibility.

FOPL targets to empower consumers to make informed and healthier food choices and motivate food manufacturers to work towards improving the nutrient profiles of their food products. Therefore, developing a FOPL scheme relevant for Indians and accessible to consumers from different socio-economic groups can enable them to make healthier and informed food choices.

To learn more about FOPL and if it can regulate the consumption of ultra-processed foods or foods high in high fat, sugar, and salt/sodium (HFSS), get a copy of the March 2021 Consumer VOICE English digital magazine.

Related

Webinar on “Safe-Tea”

Webinar on “Safe-Tea”

Webinar on “Safe-Tea”

Mornings in most Indian homes begin with a cup of freshly brewed tea. Long conversations, heated arguments, debates and even gossips are incomplete without that cup of tea.  The popularity of tea is such that in India, now one can find various types of tea – masala chai, cutting chai, gur chai,elaichi chai, adrak chai, green tea, black tea and the list is endless. Tea consumption which  originated in ancient China and reached the European continent in the 16th century, in India, its cultivation began in Assam in the 19th century.

Tea has several health benefits besides being a sign of Indian culture. Tea is believed to boost immunity, improve digestion and also helps in elimination of toxins from the body. White tea also helps in lowering cholesterol level and regulating blood pressure. A blend of effective herbs in tea quiets helps in relaxing the mind and body. When it comes to health benefits, it is very important to know what exactly you are consuming.

Safe Tea Webinar – Summary

The webinar marking the World Consumer Rights Day on 15th March was addressed by Mr. Viren Shah, Chairman, FAITTA (Federation of All India Tea Traders Association), Mr. Pramod Kumar Sahoo, Deputy Chairman & CEO, Tea Board of India and Dr. Harinder Singh Oberoi, Advisor (QA) FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India). The Panellists covering technical aspects  were Mr. Sandip Sanyal Principal Scientist, Tea Research Association (TRA), Mr. Prashant Bhansali, President, UPASI (United Planters’ Association of Southern India), Mr. Paras Desai, ED Wagh Bakri Tea Group, Mr. Ashim Sanyal COO Consumer-Voice and Dr. Sanu Jacob, Director, FSSAI. 

Some of the key takeaways from the webinar

  • Tea remains the most penetrated beverage in Indian households and is India’s No.1 ‘common persons’ drink. Tea is perceived as a natural drink with proven health benefits Therefore consumer health and safety aspects of Tea must be fully ensured.
  • Colour addition in Tea poses the biggest challenge. This is prohibited under the FSSAI Regulations and therefore should be treated as a significant adulterant. Colour addition detracts the natural health properties of Tea and adversely impacts the interest of both the consumer and genuine trade.
    Colour addition can occur at the primary manufacturing stage and  at post manufacture at the trade level, as well. The problem must be dealt with collectively by Manufacturers / Traders, Tea Board of India, FSSAI and Consumer Organizations. Greater consumer awareness needs to be generated and regulatory interventions strengthened at the State level.
  • Iron particles in Tea should not be viewed and classified as adulterants but only as incidental during Tea manufacture. The abrasion caused due to movement and friction of Tea Rollers & CTC machines (used to macerate the green tea leaves) result in the presence Iron particles (both free and impregnated) in manufactured Tea. Various steps of manufacture from withering to sieving could also contribute to incidence of iron filings.
  • While FSSAI has set  a tolerance limit of 250 mg/kg for  Iron Filings (an incidental contaminant), the industry continues to exercise all possible caution towards removal / minimizing its presence by extraction through high powered magnets as a process control during manufacture and post manufacture steps. The Tea Research Association is also spearheading initiatives involving:

a) Prescription of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) 
b) Development of higher efficiency Iron Particles Extraction Machine,
c) Development of a Micronizer – an innovative Processing Machine avoiding metal to metal contact and
d) Plasma Nitriding of CTC Rollers improving their surface hardness. BIS has developed a method to determine iron filings and FSSAI is also in the process of developing a method.

  • The need for judicious and rational use of pesticides and also adoption of Integrated Pest Management was also highlighted, as an important initiative to manage the pesticide residues in Tea and offering a safe product to Consumers.  
  • Responsible sections of the Tea trade and established Tea packet Brands follow rigorous checks and process controls to ensure delivery of quality and safe products to the consumer.
  • From a consumer perspective Brands enjoy strong commitment and loyalty. Therefore, quality and safety issues need strong enforcement going beyond nominal standards. The FSSAI’s Safety-on-Wheels initiative need to be strengthened and extended to cover the common man’s drink. 
  • Consumer awareness plan to be developed by Consumer VOICE.
  • Iron particles in Tea are incidental contaminants as the abrasion caused due to movement and friction of Steel Tea Rollers & CTC machines (used to macerate the green tea leaves) result in the presence Iron particles (both free and impregnated) in manufactured Tea. FSSAI has already set a tolerance limit of 250 mg/kg and the industry continues to exercise all possible caution towards meeting this limit, through removal / minimizing  presence of iron filings by extraction through high powered magnets as a process control during manufacture and post manufacture steps. BIS has developed a method to determine iron filings and FSSAI is also in the process of developing a method.
  • The need for judicious and rational use of pesticides and adoption of Integrated Pest Management are the important initiatives to be adopted to manage the pesticide residues in Tea and for offering a safe product to Consumers.

Related

World Consumer Rights Day 2021

World Consumer Rights Day 2021

World Consumer Rights Day 2021

WCRD-2021

World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated every year on 15th of March to highlight the power of consumers and their rights for a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for everyone. This year the theme is  ‘Tackling Plastic Pollution’. Through this campaign we intend to increase awareness and engage consumers globally to adopt and promote more sustainable practices.

Here are some hard facts which will help one to understand why tackling plastic pollution is so important:

  • By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually
  • An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year 
  • Single-use plastics account for 50 percent of the plastic produced every year
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years
  • 40 per cent of plastic produced is packaging and discarded after one use
  • India consumed around 18.45 million tonnes of plastics in 2018–19 
  • Plastic waste generation is expected to increase to 31.4 million tonnes by 2031 and further to 55 million tonnes by 2041 

(Sources: PlastIndia, 2019, Statista 2019, Consumers International)

The invention of plastics definitely came as a boon but no sooner it became a curse especially with single-use plastics. Plastics which are very useful commodities because of its properties like ductility, malleability, and water resistance have now become an environmental challenge. With lack of awareness and poor solid waste management in cities, plastics have resulted in its littering and damaging oceans, seas and land. Challenges are galore with recycling and management of plastic resources as well. 

However, with time, consumers are gaining awareness and getting concerned about plastic pollution. As per Consumers International, a global study in 2019 found that there is a strong consumer response to plastic waste (with 82% of respondents using reusable cleaning utensils instead of single-use plastic alternatives, 72% bringing reusable bags when shopping and 62% using refillable drinking bottles) – and despite the increased use of single-use plastic during the pandemic, 55% of consumers globally have now become more concerned about the environment as a result of COVID-19 and nearly 74% of consumers (in Europe, the US and South America) are willing to spend more on sustainable packaging.

Theme of World Consumer Rights Day 2021

Keeping the urgent need to save our planet, the theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2021 has been kept at ‘Tackling Plastic Pollution’. The 2021 World Consumer Rights Day campaign will focus on 7Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair and Replace. Consumer VOICE is committed to make the world a better place for consumers from every aspect including protecting it environmental pollution cause due to uneconomical waste disposal.

7-Rs

What can be done?

The 7Rs can be used in an effective way to ensure that we minimise plastic use, refuse unnecessary plastic where possible and demand more sustainable alternatives from businesses and governments. We can extend the lifetime of plastic products by reusingthem, dispose of plastic waste appropriately by following local recycling guidelines. 

Refuse Refuse to accept or support products or companies that harm the environment. One way of doing this is to refuse items that are over-packaged or packaged in plastic. 

Reduce –One can reduce single use plastic bottles in kitchens and in daily supplies and instead use reusable and refillable products – eg avoid paper cups and paper plates

Reuse – Get in the habit of reusing jars and containers. Reuse plastic bottles for storing or for planting. You can also use bottles for storing cutlery, pen stands etc

Repair– Repair broken and damaged items or recycle them with some excellent ideas. There are many exciting ways household items can be repurposed and repaired. 

Recycle – Recycling of plastic items will reduce waste and environmental pollution. There are various recycle ideas which can be used efficiently.

Replace – Replace plastic containers with eco friendly alternatives. 

Rethink – Rethink before you buy plastic wrapped things from the market. Use unpackaged products to reduce the use of plastics.

Role of Consumer VOICE

Consumer VOICE has been in the forefront in generating awareness and promoting sustainable practices among consumers. Innovative ideas like recycling old plastic bottles for potted plants, refusing plastic bags and replacing it with recycled bags or cloth bags have been part of consumer sensitisation. Children play a crucial role in contributing towards the environment by taking small but solid steps in day to day activities. Encouraging children to drink water out of reusable can, spreading the awareness on the harmful effects of plastics with peer groups are ways which will form part of the campaign. Managing ewaste which accounts for a substantial proportion of plastics is very crucial when it comes to saving our environment. Consumer VOICE has also been spreading awareness through various workshops in the past on how one should become a responsible consumer and contribute diligently towards disposal of ewaste without harming the environment.

Impact of Quality of Internet Services on Internet Users

Impact of Quality of Internet Services on Internet Users

Impact of Quality of Internet Services on Internet Users

QOIS

OVERVIEW

In the era being described as “Digital India”, it is important to increase the internet penetration but it is also important to improve the quality of internet services to be able to realize the goal of “Digital India”. Having taken the first step of getting connected, quality of services cannot be ignored and is the necessary second step that needs to be taken.

VOICE initiated a study on ‘Assessment of Impact of Quality of Internet Services on Internet Users’, in September 2016, supported by Ford Foundation, which was based on a sample of 52,000 across 19 states of India. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of quality of internet services delivered to its consumers. It found several shortcomings/impediments which require attention for further enhancing quality of internet.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

Assessment Of Impact of Quality of  Internet Service is a national study under taken by Consumer VOICE to assess the:

  • Current status of Quality of Internet Service in India
  • Patterns of current usage of Internet
  • Interpret the effect of Quality on Usage of Internet
  • Impact of Internet usage on various aspects of life

FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

The report subsumes 3 volumes:

  • Volume 1: Concept Scope and Dimensions  Read More
  • Volume 2: Assessment of Quality of Internet Service    Read More
  • Volume 3: Impact of Quality of Internet Service on Various Aspects of Life  Read More

NEEDQOIS CAMPAIGN

‘NeedQoIS’ is an initiative taken by VOICE in the interest of internet users (consumers) to educate and enlighten them about Quality of Internet Service (QoIS) and engaging consumers in the fight for better internet service nationwide to make it a truly Digital India. (For more details, please visit https://www.facebook.com/NeedQoIS/)

STUDY HIGHLIGHTS

The study, besides seeking perceptions on various parameters of quality of internet, sought perceptions on the impact of internet on various aspects of life, which include daily lives, development of rural areas, education and research, business and jobs, health and medical services, political and civic participation, shopping, travelling and commuting, women empowerment and empowerment of people with special needs, and e-governance. It was found that each of these aspects is significantly impacted by internet.

The measurement of wireless internet speeds in this study was also undertaken. The average 3G speeds were only 1.5 mbps while average 4G speeds were only 4.10 mbps. These are among the lowest in the world. By definition, 4G speeds are 40 to 150 mbps and Indian telecom companies, claiming use of 4G technology are delivering 3G speeds to their customers.

Based on the study, following recommendations were made to TRAI –

  • For better quality of speed a Mandatory disclosure of min avg download speed be made, which must be met at least 95% of the times.
  • ISPs to include a speed measurement tool in their apps and maintain a record of average speed during the day, week and month.
  • ISPs to disclose minimum and maximum speeds on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Compensate consumers for failing to adhere to average download speeds and down time. TRAI should create a mechanism for compensation for quantifiable losses below the benchmark.
  • Declare minimum speeds at the time of sale of plans.
  • TRAI’s MySpeed App should be made more robust and user-friendly. It should be able to provide speed comparisons for each BTS and also show comparisons of ISPs at given BTS.
  • Each ISP app must have a complaint feature with follow up of outcome of complaints.
  • TRAI should find a way so that consumer using internet can come to know the reduction in speed or loss of signal at a particular point of time. At present the phones show E or 3G or 4G signal when there is in fact no signal. When signal is lost there should be a way to inform the consumer about loss of speed or signal by an adequate label mechanism.
  • TRAI should be able to provide speed comparisons for each BTS and also show comparisons of ISPs at given BTS.

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CAMPAIGN UPDATES

WORKSHOP HELD IN BANGALORE:

NEED FOR BETTER QUALITY OF INTERNET SERVICES TO MAKE INDIA TRULY DIGITAL”

Consumer VOICE celebrated World Consumer Rights Day (#BetterDigitalWorld) at Bangalore by organizing a workshop in collaboration with the The Chair on Consumer Law and Practice, National Law School of India University. Prof. (Dr.) R. Venkata Rao, Vice Chancellor, NLSIU was the Chief Guest. Prof Sriram Khanna, Consumer VOICE and Prof.(Dr.) Ashok R. Patil, NLSIU were the expert speakers who discussed and explained the findings of this national study.  Read More 

CONSUMER VOICE CONVERSATION SERIES

DIGITAL INDIA IN LIGHT OF SUB-STANDARD INTERNET SERVICES

Consumer VOICE Conversation Series held 18 Dec’17 aimed at enlightening consumers about the quality of internet services and also to awaken the concerned authorities to take the appropriate action to improve the quality of internet service in India under the initiative – NeedQoIS. The event also had officials from TRAI (Telecom regulatory Authority India) to present their point of view and answer the questions and issues raised by the audience. 

INDIA: HIGHEST GDP GROWTH RATE AND LOWEST INTERNET SPEEDS

Indian consumers are consistently battling with low internet speeds while dreaming of a new and better ‘Digital India’. It is disappointing to see that a country making its mark on the world map for its excellent GDP growth is worse than Pakistan and Algeria when it come to internet speeds (as found in a study by OpenSignal). Consumer VOICE conducted a study titled “Assessment of Impact of Quality of Service on Internet Users” in the last quarter of 2017 and found that the average 4G speeds delivered to consumers is a mere 4.10 mbps. The speed tests were conducted on TRAI MySpeed app on which TRAI has recently released a white paper elaborating on the methodology behind working of the app. The paper only focuses upon the technicalities of the app but does not focus on getting faster internet speeds. Sign the petition –  http://chn.ge/2GT3Chi

ITS RAINING DATA

As soon as Reliance JIO offered its free services to consumers, the level of competition reached its peak among the Internet Service Providers. The data which was available per month at the price of Rs. 30 to 50 per GB in Indian telecom markets has come down to Rs 5 per GB in the year 2017, as data consumption has increased. It has become cheaper to watch movies and web series on Internet and Wi-Fii. However, it has been observed that after these developments, post-paid subscribers are paying more as compared to the pre-paid subscribers. Being in the field of consumer education and empowerment for over three decades now, Consumer VOICE requests TRAI to take prompt action on the same so that there is no discrimination between the pre-paid and post-paid consumers and they are benefitted from the rising competition between ISPs.  Sign the petition –  http://chn.ge/2GT3Chi

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

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