Rising prices: How long will the country suffer?
Vijay Darda :You will remember the election campaign in 2014. The Bharatiya Janata Party had raised a hue and cry over inflation. The discussion everywhere was focussed on the single point that the common man was reeling under the impact of rising prices of essential commodities. There were allegations that despite being an economist, Dr Manmohan Singh could not control inflation. Every leader of the opposition was shouting at the top of his or her voice that the Congress government did not care for the common man and allowed inflation go uncontrolled. There were other election issues too but it was the issue of inflation that dominated the electoral discourse.
The result was that even the common man believed that inflation would be controlled only when the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power at the centre. With this hope, people voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since then, they are just waiting for inflation to be brought under control. The government continues to release some data regarding inflation. These figures are so complex that they can only be understood by the economists. The common man does not understand them. He only sees what the cost of pulses per kg was last month and how much it costs this month. He only sees what the prices of vegetables were last week and what they are this week in the market.
Even if the government tries to show by releasing data that inflation has come down, the reality is that inflation is on the rise. If some part is seen directly, some other part hits us indirectly. For example, you can look at the prices of diesel and petrol. When the price of petrol increases, it directly affects the home budget. If diesel price increases, its impact ranges from grains to greens, and the prices of everything needed for the household increases because the freight increases.
Since the prices at the international market were rising rapidly during Manmohan Singh’s regime, the price of petroleum products was booming in India too. At that time, crude oil prices in the international market reached $105 a barrel. The government could not do anything even if it wanted to. Conversely, when the BJP government came to power at the centre, crude oil prices started to fall rapidly in the international market. At one time, it drastically came down to $48.50 a barrel. Had the BJP government wanted, the prices of petrol and diesel could have been brought down in the country too, but the government earned a lot of money by levying surcharges and taxes and thus increased revenue. There was no attempt to provide relief to the people.
When prices began to rise again in the international market, the government imposed this decision in such a shrewd way that now prices are fluctuating every day. Now, the fuel price increases by 25 paise some day or 12 paise the other. In this way, the prices continue to rise and they do not attract the attention of the common man. Today, the condition is such that the price of petrol in various cities of Maharashtra has gone up to Rs. 80 per litre and the price of diesel has gone up to Rs. 65 per litre. Due to this, inflation is also increasing rapidly.
I have always been demanding that if all things can be included in the GST, why are petrol and diesel not being included? The government has maintained silence on this issue because if petrol and diesel are included in the GST, they will be taxed at a maximum of 28 per cent, whereas now we have to pay more than 100 per cent by combining all kinds of tax and cess.
It may sound harsh but it is a reality that the government is not making any effort to reduce inflation. Rather, no minister or representative of the government wants to speak on this very serious issue. In order to divert the attention of the people and not make them mindful of the inflation, such issues are being raised or popped up that the common man remains embroiled in them. Even our media is not speaking or commenting much on the issue of inflation. So many sensational cases keep cropping up everyday that nobody pays any attention towards inflation. The person who suffers most from the impact of inflation has such a weak voice that it does not reach the corridors of power. Even the media, which itself is fast becoming a victim of inflation, is silent about it. The price of newsprint has increased by more than 30 per cent. Printing ink has become costly and the economic condition of the print media has worsened. It is surprising that neither the print media nor the electronic media is raising its voice over this.
Just think about that lower middle class person or the poor person whose monthly income is Rs. 10,000 or Rs. 15,000. Can his or her family think of something other than keeping the kitchen fire burning? Can he eat pulses and vegetables at the same time? The production of pulses increased by 38 lakh tonnes last year. Yet, why is it so costly? Can a common man think of drinking milk today? Can he bear the expense of his medical treatment properly? Not at all, and the number of such people is in crores. These people also voted for the BJP to help it capture power at the centre. Should the government not think about these people? It should but no one actually does. The wait for the promised ‘achhe din’ is becoming increasingly long. We are ready to wait long but how can we remain hungry today for a happy tomorrow! It is high time the government started thinking! The common man of this country is very upset! And the anger is growing deep within!
Before I conclude
Congratulations Avani! We felt very proud when you achieved the distinction of being India’s first woman fighter pilot to complete a solo flight in a MiG 21 Bison fighter jet! Your inspiration was astronaut Kalpana Chawla and you have become an inspiration to millions of girls who hail from small towns as you do. Avani, India has great expectations from you!