The Effects of Price Rise on the middle class

Wrote this for the Imprint (the college monthly) as part of a competition of sorts. Please refrain from being judgemental! :P I prepared this at the last minute and it's not really my best!

Price rise. The time when that kid from a middle class family gets to eat only half as much of ‘upma’ as he/she usually would, gets only one glass of milk a day instead of two, is dragged along to the fair-price shops with his mother or grandmother to help them carry essentials back home, house rent goes up, public transport is crowded because few people can afford `70 per litre of petrol and the opposition parties are often going on strikes against a government ‘fishing the economy out from turbulence’. Everything from toothpicks to the S-Class parked at the Mercedes showroom is suddenly costly enough to elicit a second thought before purchase. Not that the average middle class breadwinner would even give a Mercedes a second thought though. Added to this is the issue of remuneration not being able to meet the family’s necessary expenses. This would put any tenacious man/woman in a dilemma – “How to tide over the crisis?” A simple enough solution would be to cut down on unnecessary and fanciful expenses. “But will that be enough?” he/she thinks.
Every year such doubt arise in the minds of the population of India because the majority of Indian citizens happen to be in the lower middle class or in the middle class and also because the government always seems to be ‘fishing for the economy’. Eloquent speeches by the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and other members of Parliament only add fuel to the teeming population’s anger at the government. That nothing is being done to help the common man move upwards in life and to help in improving the nation’s economy (eventually) is an oft voiced grouse among the people. We often take to blaming the Finance Minister or any other Member of Parliament who finds himself/herself prominently heard during the implementation of the price hikes.
Prices tend to rise due to a wide plethora of reasons. It could be because of increasing oil prices, sold by the Gulf countries, due to a temporary shortage of crude oil, due to economic instability in countries that are major buyers of our export goods, food shortage and just any apparently insignificant change that may be connected to our export or import market.
Nowadays, it has become a complaint that the government is squeezing out of their pockets from all sides by hiking prices of almost all essential amenities. When the government decides to hike fuel prices, it isn’t only fuel consumption that is affected. All other products in the market are also pricier. A direct example for this that almost anyone can relate to is that of the black marketer. (I don’t mean to say that many readers indulge in the black market, but it’s amazing how movies and books tell us a lot about the arcane methods of the dark world of underworld business!). When there is civil war in the diamond-rich regions of Africa, blood diamonds are sold by peddlers and extremists to foreigners who then sell these to jewellers they have a nexus with. These diamonds, if in any shortage, will lead to a rise in prices of diamonds to the end consumer – an innocent buyer. The innocent buyer can be compared to the average Indian outside the fair price shops waiting to sustain his/her family (not necessarily by buying diamonds though!).
Similarly, you could say that the cake that Madhi sells downstairs is suddenly `12 because of rising electricity and rent costs (I actually asked him). He is forced to sell his cakes (that he just buys and sells to the residents of the hostel) at `2 higher. In that situation, Madhi would have fewer and less frequent customers for his cakes, however awesome they may be!
Anyone will know how this works from their meager, or advanced, in some cases, knowledge of economics. But then, who is to blame? Which individual, or group of individuals, can we point at and say, “You are the reason for my having only 1 glass of milk today.” I would say that group of individuals is us. If we, as citizens of the largest democracy, as people looking for a better future here at home, urge everyone around us to pay their taxes, follow the laws of the land and, in general, act responsibly, we wouldn’t have to face this mess.
It’s all very well to blame the government when they implement price hikes and in the same breath curse them for trying to cash in on vote banks. But we fail to realize that the government, no matter how pro, or against, the people they are, will always have a group of dissidents. They just need to take the people into confidence before implementing drastic measures such as those made by the current UPA-II government. Limiting LPG cylinders, hiking petrol and diesel prices by over `5 and giving the general public, and the opposition more than enough reason to go on strikes against the government isn’t an efficient method of ‘fishing for the economy’.
Price rise does indeed happen to be one of the greatest laments of common man and only a superhuman savior like Vijay in the movie ‘Thamizhan’ can save us from all of this! :P
So all we can do is probably sit back and wait till the price rise can actually swallow the very people who implement them! Until then, I guess we’ll just have to wait outside the PDS shop in that crowded street a kilometer away from home and purchase a kilogram of rice after a gruesome wait of 2 hours!


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