Sunday, October 02, 2011

Food prices

Hail the highly respected Montek Singh Ahluwalia , aka “former World Bank man” and India’s resident economic genius, whose team reckons that Rs. 32/- per day is enough to keep an Indian above the poverty level.

Honestly, doesn’t this smell more of a ‘garib hato’ pogrom, rather than garibi hatao?

This is an appeal to home grown social activists/eco-terrorists. Kindly hijack the gentleman and some of his cohorts and dump them in some out of the way slum or village. Let them spend twelve…nay, give them grace for being chronically wealthy; let them survive five days on Rs. 32 a day and show us all how well that goes; prove their point in public interest, if not that of the ivory-towered Planning Commission and the government of India’s creditability.

Is it not ironic – while our growth rate rises, our calculations of GDP spiral, salaries of top stars and top honchos, corporate, bureaucrat and political , go through the roof, somehow it is reckoned that the poor need less and less to survive.

India has a billion people, give or take a few millions. Let’s assume that that ‘give or take’ millions are those of our population who fret over ‘cut backs’ on luxuries, not cut backs in household budgets. Of the residual billion, the vast majority belongs to households caught in a bind today:

With food prices shooting, whether to purchase adequate nutrition for growing children/working adults/family seniors? Or save and invest? After all, wasn’t it those small savings that led the way to the economic makeover that led to Shining India? And those brave subsidy cutbacks on fuel, i.e. petrol and LPG, snowball to hit the aam admi most.

Their primary concern is with the retail prices, while Montek & co. only deal with suitably adjusted wholesale prices of 3 – 6 weeks ago. So, effectively, prices will never fall and food will not reach the mouths that need it.

It is the interests of coalition partners, interests of the fertilizer lobbies, those of the dealers of hybrid seeds, MNCs, World Bank’s pet babies etc that are more important in the ‘overall big picture’ …… not that huge segment of that billion.

A suggestion was floated, about an ‘interest subsidy’ for exporters and importers affected by the slide of the rupee. Poor rich people!

How about poor poor people and poor middle class ones? Something like an “EMI subsidy” for those who put lifelong savings into a new home, only to find the interest rates spiraling out of control?

Or a “nutrition subsidy” for all those wondering whether to buy food? If so, how much?