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November 01, 2011

Cover Story

India—Kaleidoscope of Cultures

by Marilynn Hood

An Indian woman walks in the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India. Photo by Feng Li
An Indian woman walks in the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India. Photo by Feng Li

IDSAFormed in 1996, the Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA) is headquartered in the country’s capital of New Delhi. Serving as the chief advocate for the direct selling industry in India, the IDSA works to fulfill a number of roles.

Promoting the Direct Selling Industry

Currently, no one central government agency is charged with the oversight of the direct selling industry in India. As a result, direct selling companies are subject to regulations at all levels of the government—federal, state and local. As might be expected in a country as diverse as India, these regulations can vary widely from one locale to another. The IDSA is constantly lobbying various government entities, proposing appropriate legislation and representing the interests of the direct selling industry.

The IDSA promotes the direct selling industry to consumers as well. Because the industry essentially began in India in 1995, it is still fairly new and rapidly developing. Many people know very little about legitimate direct selling companies and how they operate. Using various means and media, the IDSA seeks to raise awareness of the industry among consumers and provide them with reliable information.

Providing Support for IDSA Member Companies

The IDSA began its operations with only five member companies. That number has grown to 18, with more companies expected to join the association in the near future. The benefits and services the IDSA provides their member companies are many, including the following:


When companies apply for membership, they must agree to abide by the Code of Ethics of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), which the IDSA has adopted. Only after the successful completion of a 12-month probationary period are they then granted full membership in the association.

Member companies have the right to display the IDSA logo, which is akin to the association’s “seal of approval.” With many fraudulent companies operating in India, this hallmark of excellence sets member companies apart and indicates they are legitimate, ethical direct selling companies.

Voting Rights and a Voice

Member companies become active participants in the workings of the association. Their membership entitles them to voting rights for selecting the Executive Committee, which oversees the workings of the association and represents the members to government entities as well as consumers. Member companies may also contribute to IDSA Direct, the quarterly magazine published by the association.

Information and Opportunities

The IDSA works to keep its members in the know and up to date. In addition to the quarterly meetings that it holds for its members, the association also conducts member briefings, hosts various events and conducts press conferences. These activities provide professional networking opportunities and media exposure that otherwise might not be available to companies.

The IDSA Direct magazine ( highlights the latest news and information in direct selling and showcases its members. The IDSA also conducts surveys and prepares reports on various aspects of the direct selling industry. Member companies have access not only to this valuable information but also to secure information on the WFDSA website.

Associate Membership for Suppliers

Knowing the vital role they play, the IDSA offers associate membership to companies that serve as suppliers to member companies. This type of membership helps link the entire direct selling community and makes for improved logistics as well as the fostering of new ideas.

Serving as a Resource for Consumers

Fraudulent companies operating in India are a big problem for consumers. With the direct selling industry being fairly young and still developing, the IDSA helps validate legitimate direct selling companies.

Consumers can contact the IDSA office or go to its website to find member companies and the Code of Ethics by which these legitimate companies are to operate. The IDSA also offers suggestions for resolving complaints that consumers may have with member companies and provides information on whom to contact within the IDSA.

Consumers can learn more about direct selling by accessing the wealth of information available at the IDSA website, including media articles, industry reports and the IDSA Direct magazine.

With a vision to “make direct selling the most respected industry in India,” the IDSA is serious about gaining the trust of consumers.

Information Available at the IDSA Website: