Monday, May 29, 2023

Rising prices

Editorial 2

We know for a fact that the COVID-induced hardships for a common man have not yet ended and are not going to end so easily for times to come. The phase wise outbreak of the virus itself indicates uncertainty loom large and economic lockdowns are all set to be one among the new virus-induced norms. Even as vaccination has given hope to control spread of the virus, the economy continues to struggle to make it back on track. Uncontrolled rising prices of essential commodities and other products is assuming dangerous dimensions which has already pushed most households into poverty. It’s the inflation which is now emerging more deadly than the coronavirus. The skyrocketing prices of essential commodities is contrary to the given situation where wage deflation and increasing joblessness have pushed (and continue to push) households into a distress situation. Take the case of rising fuel prices. The steady rise in petrol and diesel prices over the past few months has not only fueled inflation concerns, but has also triggered changed spending patterns in households. A report reveals that the fuel is eating the domestic budgets more than the expenses on health. The situation is highly dangerous as the rising petrol and diesel prices have come at a time when most households are already struggling with higher medical expenses and surging commodity prices. The haywire situation is eating up their savings as well as pushing them into debt trap to keep afloat. In Nagaland price control mechanism has been thrown to the winds as traders and merchants stamp their own prices on the commodities to rob consumers of their hard earned money. It’s more ironic that none of us, as consumers, is vocal to resist the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, be it grocery items, food grains or vegetables. The rise and fall in prices has a lasting effect on the cost of living of the common man. Cost of living is the price of goods and services required for maintaining an average level standard of living and varies from place to place, and fluctuates from time to time. It has a direct bearing on the prosperity of an individual. When the cost of living goes up, the social structure of a common man too takes a hit, exposing him more to complexes. As far as essential commodities are concerned, we have two categories. One is the traditional category of essentials and the second constitutes modern living essentials. The immediate impact of price rise is that it limits the access of common man only to necessities. Modern living essentials have become a luxury for him. Normally, price rise is attributed to the factors like rapid growth of population, increase in incomes, rising non-development expenditure of the government and increase in money supply, on the demand side. And on the supply side inadequacy of agricultural output, inadequacy of industrial output and high-priced imports are listed in the price hike. But ours is a place where the hike in prices is not based on economics. It’s the writ of the supplier which runs, pricing the commodities arbitrarily. We as consumers are left with no option but to pay the illogical prices of the essentials as we have no other option before us. Sadly the focus on rising prices is nowhere visible here. This all happens under the nose of authorities and it seems they all have lost the sense of smelling the foul of arbitrarily driven price rise syndrome which is engulfing the common man’s prosperity. We, as consumers too, have a unique attitude. We vehemently voice our demand for high quality fuel etc., but act as silent majority to uncontrolled price hike. In this system of economics, we surprisingly expect rules of physics to protect us from price rise. The theory of gravity that anything that goes up is bound to come down is not applicable in this context. Here its opposite – whatever goes up, will never come down. However, the war against arbitrary and illogical price rise of essentials needs to be led by the government and not the common man. So far, we haven’t seen anything substantial done to pull common people out of the price hike syndrome.