July 5, 2020

Price Hike – Somebody’s Bread, Somebody’s Poison


Continuous inflation has become a non-changing and permanent feature of the Indian polity. It is not that during the first few decades of our independence price hike was not known. Although rise in the prices of commodities, including essential commodities, was known in those days too, the teeming crores in those days had to bear the brunt not as a regular affair, but once in a while. More importantly, there was generally a cause or reason behind such inflation.

However, over the last few decades, rise in the prices of virtually all commodities is seemingly and increasingly becoming the order of the day. It is an irony that the Constitution of India assures the making of a welfare state and a full chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy is dedicated to the cause as enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution. Unfortunately for the multitude, turning a blind eye to the Constitution, the Sultans of Delhi and the state capitals over the years accorded top priority to a policy based on “money matter works better” in the interest of moneyed class, the business fraternity, the corporate honchos and the like. The result being that minting money right and left, legally and illegally, dumping of business, political and administrative ethics in the gutters have to a large extent increasingly come to stay.

While the fathers of the Constitution dreamt of the evolution of a welfare state characterized by ‘socialistic pattern of society’ (not socialism) and accordingly drafted the Constitution and the Constituent Assembly approved the same in the interest of the teeming multitude, the implementation of the legally non-enforceable Directive Principles of State Policy is today nowhere to be seen. Even if at times schemes or economic packages seemingly reflect some canons of the Directive Principles, the implementations go haywire in the hands of the ever burgeoning multi-headed hydra called corruption. This is just one of the many reflections of “money matter works matter". With such a policy at work, obviously, the poor  and the down-trodden in the economic ladder suffer the most.

In terms of political ideology, a party is characterized as rightist, centrist or leftist (socialist). The lifeline of a rightist party is almost fully nourished by “money matter works better”. Accordingly, it is the richer class, the business community and the corporate sector that matter the most for a rightist party. Over the three decades or so, rightist political philosophy came to rule the roost in the political and economic sector in Assam; socialism has almost totally faded into oblivion. With money power on the loose in the political and economic sector and the electoral arena dancing to the tune of money power, fortunately for the moneyed (black or white) class, the rightest, nay, the extreme rightist are calling the shots in all sectors. The poor and the have-nots may only dream of rosy time some day.

Whereas price hike, particularly of the essential commodities has been a regular and continuing phenomenon in the economic sector of the nation, the lockdown that first began towards the end of March 2020 turned out to be a golden opportunity for the business class to mint in crores with seemingly all blessings of the powers that be. As the restrictions were increasingly eased in the next few months, some kind of price-line stability seemed to have emerged. However, in the three days prior to the 14-day total lockdown that came in to force in Kamrup Metro District since Mat 29, prices of food items in the district sky-rocketed without any check. In those three days potato and onion were sold at Rs 70 to Rs 90 per kg and cucumber cost Rs 100 per kg. Obviously, a complete list of price of items is outside the purview of this article due to space constraint.

Presently, the government has already fixed the price of certain essential items like potato and onion at Rs 30/= per kg. While the government has announced relaxations in the lockdown on  Monday and Wednesday (July 6 & 8) for purchase  of grocery items and vegetable, it would be interesting to watch if the prices fixed by the government finally succeed in withstanding the massive pressure that may come in the way from some powerful groups and political and business heavyweights.

So far as the rest of Assam is concerned, the phenomenon of soaring price rise continues to gallop forward. Inputs received from the Barak Valley and other parts of south Assam project the same story of back-breaking price rise for the multitude. North and upper Assam are not different in any way. In short, this way or that, there is no escape for the commoner from the pangs of price rise.  However, there will never be an end to mountains of promises made by our Delhi and Dispur heavyweights.

Also Read: Himanta counters people claiming COVID as Hoax, urges them to visit GMCH

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