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The struggle to retrieve the kitchen
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The majority of the people in the country are still feeling the effects of the unplanned lockdown imposed as part of the Covid defence. In the hours following the announcement of the lockdown, as shocking images of migrants walking homewards appeared in the media, those with common sense were convinced that the economic crisis and unemployment that had started before Covid, was going to be exacerbated. And their worst fears came true too. Then came reports that the country might be heading for starvation. All the while, the authorities were ignoring everything in a cavalier fashion. As the months passed, horrifying stories of famine emerged in the country. Reports that a large section of the population in India has halved their food intake from three to two were indications of imminent danger. Even with the significant loosening of restrictions and people slowly returning to their former lives, this threat of starvation still looms. Moreover, the chances of such a situation have only increased. If earlier it was the pandemic that caused the uncertainty, this time the government solely is responsible. With the Centre's going back on all the relief packages declared for fighting Covid coupled with its economic impact, all the burden has now fallen on the common man. With several autocratic, corporate-appeasing, anti-people policies, the Modi government is pushing people to abject poverty and starvation. The rising fuel prices in the last few weeks is part of the same.

Last May, the price of an LPG cylinder for domestic use was less than Rs 600. Nine months later, it has reached Rs 830. On Monday alone, the price was hiked by Rs 25 per cylinder for domestic use and Rs 96 per commercial cylinder. During the same period, petrol and diesel prices also rose sharply. The government generally justifies such measures by citing price variations in the international market. However, going by that excuse, now the price of petrol, diesel and LPG must come down. But for some time now, the Modi government has been pursuing a 'price control program' in which various taxes have been increased in line with falling international prices. In the case of LPG, the government's claim that it is increasing the subsidy rate in proportion to inflation is also unfounded. Serious flaws have already been reported in the government's policy of depositing subsidy amount into the customer's bank account after they purchase the cylinder for the whole amount. In addition, the consumer has to pay GST besides the market price of the cylinder. All this effectively eliminates the benefits of the subsidy. At present, the subsidy itself is gone. The subsidy of domestic cylinders has not been deposited for the last eight months. As prices fell in the international market, the Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has put forth the bizarre argument that the prices of all types of cooking gas are equal. The declared exemptions are being completely denied on one hand and on the other hand, they are looting in the name of rising international market prices. It is the destiny of the people to get burned between the two.

One can easily guess how this would affect people who have been reeling under months of economic hardship and unemployment. Meanwhile, the looting through fuel prices has already led to inflation. When inflation makes it impossible for ordinary people to afford even basic necessities, it is only natural for kitchens to go in shutdown. The fascist regime has thus decided to snatch away even the remaining food rations of the population facing starvation.

Under the directions of the NITI Aayog, the Centre is planning to stop the free food-grain rations of the country's 10 Cr people. That is, half the ration-eligible people in the country will no longer receive free ration. This is the decision of a nation that stands 94th in the list of 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index. One thing is clear on closer observation: price rise is a retaliatory measure by the ruling party when facing unfavourable election results or protests that put them on the back foot. This was in display during the anti-CAA protests and when the Delhi election results were out. Now, the Modi government is trying to suppress the farmer's protests which have spread across the country by driving up fuel prices. The only way out for the democratic society is to keep up the resistance.

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TAGS:LPG prices rising taxes Centre 
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