Counterfeiting incidents have increased 24 percent in the country in 2019 over the previous year, creating an over Rs 1-lakh-crore hole in the economy, according to a report.
The report also said counterfeiters are having a free-run due to the pandemic-driven disruptions to organised supply chains and the resultant spike in consumer demand.
According to the report by ASPA, a self-regulated industry body of anti-counterfeiting and traceability solutions providers, counterfeiting has risen steadily in the last few years, and exploiting the pandemic as a cover for their activities.
Between February and April 2020, over 150 incidents of counterfeiting cases were reported, mostly about fake PPE kits, sanitisers and masks taking advantage of the high demand for these products, it noted.
"There was a 24 percent increase in counterfeiting in 2019 over 2018, leading to the loss of more than Rs 1 lakh crore to the overall economy," said Nakul Pasricha, president of Authentication Solution Providers Association.
The association works with global authorities like the International Hologram Manufacturers Association, Counterfeit Intelligence Bureau of the Interpol, and domestic industry lobbies like FICCI, he said.
Counterfeiting is a universal issue and is 3.3 percent of global trade, according to the OECD data, impacting social and economic development across the world.
The report lists the currency, FMCG, alcohol, pharma, documents, agriculture, infrastructure, automotive, tobacco, lifestyle and apparel, as the 10 sectors impacted most by counterfeiting.
Among these, currency, alcohol and FMCG continue to be the top three sectors with the highest counterfeiting in the last two years. The FMCG sector is most vulnerable, as counterfeit incidents rose 63 percent between 2018 (79) and 2019 when the reported cases jumped to 129.
Within the states, the fakers have a free-run in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal, Punjab, Jharkhand, Delhi, Gujarat, and Uttarakhand, calling for urgent actions to frame anti-counterfeiting policy measures.
According to the report, UP continues to be on top followed by Bihar, Rajasthan, and together these three states represent almost 45 percent of all counterfeiting reported in the last two years.
What is more alarming is that counterfeiting is not limited to high-end luxury items today, as common everyday items as fake cumin seeds, mustard cooking oil, ghee, hair oils, soaps, baby care vaccines and medicines are aplenty in the markets.
"There is an urgent need for building and nurturing authentication ecosystems in the country with the active involvement and active participation of all stakeholders," said Pasricha.