The adage "All that glitters is not gold" cautions us against forming our opinion about objects on the basis of superficial impressions. It also implies that one should try to ascertain the true nature of things and to understand the reality hidden behind their glittering facade.
However, love for glamour is deeply embedded in human nature. Taking advantage of this inherent vulnerability of man to glamour, cash rich companies rope in glamorous film and sports personalities to advertise their goods and services.
Soap and tooth paste used by charming actresses and dashing sportsmen sell like hot cakes. Companies' sales are boosted and consumers, particularly those of the lower middle classes, forego many necessities of life to have a taste of goodies recommended by their favourite stars.
Folk tales the world over are replete with stories of princesses lured away from their gardens by evil spirits in the guise of fairies.
The brave and the earnest princes pursue these witches through all sorts of hardships and trials, put their lives at grave risks and ultimately succeed in killing the evil ones and restore the princesses to freedom. These stories forcefully bring home to us the truth contained in the adage 'All that glitters is not gold'.
One would expect that our reading of such stories would make us wise and prevent us from falling prey to temptations of outward beauty. But man, weak as he is, never learns from others' experience. He often courts disaster by giving into temptations.
We are repeatedly warned and alerted by the wise and the experienced not to take persons and things on their face value. The most innocent masks may hide be¬hind them the most cunning of cheats. But very often even the wise fall prey to trick¬sters.
Even Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, was tempted by the glitter of the golden deer she saw bounding around her forest cottage and requested Rama to bring it for her. Rama earnestly expostulated Sita to forget the deer as it might be a trap of some villain, but she was so charmed by the guiles of the deer that she pressed him to leave the Ashram in search of it.
A few minutes later, Sita heard a distress call for help in Rama's voice. She, thereupon, requested Lakshman to go and relieve Rama from dis¬tress. Lakshman tried to convince Sita that nobody was brave enough to harm the invincible Rama, but Sita was so nervous that she forced Lakshman to leave the Ashram. In his absence, the Rakshasa king Ravana abducted Sita.
It later turned out that the golden deer was actually the demon Marichi in disguise sent by Ravana to tempt Sita. Sita's temptation demonstrates the validity of the old saying "All that glitters is not gold".
False simplicity can be as deceptive as false glamour. Indians have honoured saffron-clad sadhus from times immemorial. Saffron dress stands for renunciation and selflessness of the man who wears it.
It is expected that such a god-man would tender correct advice and guidance to the householder and help him solve his pressing prob¬lems. But the exposure of many godme'n in recent times has shaken common man's faith in them. They have turned out to be hoax and cheats who have amassed wealth and cornered immovable property from the unsuspecting and credulous men.
Some god men have been hauled up in courts of law for forging documents to discredit some genuine and reputed persons. Their conduct has administered a grievous blow to the belief of common man in saffron-clad sadhus.
Consumerism has caught the burgeoning lower middle classes in a vice like grip. Even a low income individual wants to obtain consumer goods incessantly advertised in electronic and print media. As he cannot afford to buy the prestigious brands of cosmetics and electronic goods, he is easily tricked in to buy fake and imitation goods which flood the markets in most towns and cities of India. The cheap imitation goods sell briskly duping the credulous consumers and swelling the coffers of the unsrupulous manufacturers and traders.
Spread of education and knowledge has improved the consumer's awareness and he is insistently demanding quality goods. Most enlightened manufacturers have responded to consumer's demands by initiating comprehensive quality testing mea¬sures.
Quality control has become an important and integral part of manufacturing process of all consumer and industrial goods. Government has also set up a number of institutions which have developed standards against which quality of products can be judged and certification of quality can be given. Adherence to quality has pro¬moted the sales of good brands. Quality consciousness of people has edged out many spurious goods from the market.
Consumer movements of recent times have underscored the need for statutory protection of consumers against sub-standard goods and services. The Union and state government have enacted legislation and set up consumer courts to redress consumer's grievances.
While these courts have given relief and compensation to many consumers, instances of delay in deciding cases by some courts have also been reported. The growing public concern with quality goods and services is bound to improve matters and keep the manufacturers of goods and providers of services on their toes.