Rising prices - another pandemictext_fields
Both houses of parliament were adjourned indefinitely without prior notice one day in advance of schedule. It had earlier been decided at the house business committee to table several bills and discuss them on Thursday and Friday. Thus it was breaching this understanding with the Opposition that the government called off the sessions all of a sudden. Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was the one who analysed this government move on the dot. His reproach was that the government accomplished its agenda and disappeared from the scene. The chief business of the budget session itself - the presentation of budget - was one of the main corporate agenda of the government. This was in addition to certain other legislative moves that added to the Hindutva-Fascist agenda of the regime. The hasty passage of the controversial 'Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022' rejecting the Opposition demand for referring it to the standing committee, and allowing the tabling of the private bill calling for a uniform civil code were all included in what Kharge counted as government's agenda. When all of them went through parliament's approval, the house was locked and dispersed. What remained were the discussions about the burning issues of the people and their solutions. It was totally disappointing and reprehensible that the majority of the country's population reeling in misery including price rise, and the discussions and debates they wanted to hear failed to come from the temple of democracy.
Even the government admits the fact the the country is caught in the vortex of an economic crisis and its people are suffering from the rise in prices. But the government's proclivity is to reduce price rise to merely a non-genomic variant of Covid. This is only an attempt to make it appear that all the current crisis is a product of Covid pandemic, thereby aiming to cover up the real reasons of the crisis. As a matter of fact, price rise for the country comes as another pandemic. Certainly Covid and lockdown have accentuated the current crisis. But, even before that, the country's economy had started showing signs of economic recession, such as price rise and unemployment. For example, take the case of fuel price rise which is known for its avalanche effect with higher food stuffs and related essential goods. Barring Sri Lanka, India is the country in South Asia that charges the highest price for petrol and diesel. Even during spells when global market price of crude went low, the government not only refused to pass its benefit to the consumer, but also hiked the levies; it was such daylight plundering that resulted in fuel prices crossing the 100-rupee mark per litre. In proportion to market levels, fuel that should have been available for Rs 60 per litre cost nearly double that through unprecedented exploitation. A week before the declaration of lockdown following the outbreak of Covod, the excise duty of petrol and diesel per litre were increased three rupees each. Later, even when there was a significant fall in crude prices in the international market, the government was not prepared to reduce the excise duty; but when crude prices went up, the price was raised promptly and proportionately. In the meantime, during election, regardless of the price in global market, the government was able to hold fuel prices in check. This makes it clear that there is no connection at all between fuel price and the Covid crisis. Therefore, the cause of price following fuel price hike was not Covid, but the lo-sided policies of the government.
Prices of essential commodities in the country are rising every day. Many food items now cost double its price a month ago. There is hardly any product that has not registered at least 10 per cent price increase. Restaurant food has also become dear; when cooking gas prices shoot up, food outlets have no other way than to hike prices. Commercial cooking gas cylinder which cost Rs 1040 in 2020 is now priced at Rs 2280. It is for the common man, already thrown into hunger due to Covid and lockdown, who has to pay the price in all this. Many agencies that had made studies in India have pointed out that the Covid period has led the country to starvation. An NGO, World Vision-Asia Pacific, discovered that Covid had reduced 55 per cent of India's households to two meals per day. The recent report of Global Hunger Index also corroborate this finding. In short, the country is undergoing an undeclared economic emergency. The people are in a way suffering the dire after-effects of the blunders of 'Modinomics' in the name of economic reforms including the note-ban - a clear illustration of the economic anarchy created by the Hindutva-fascism.