“Skyrocketing prices of essential commodities hit the common man hard,” this headline is not hard enough to describe how badly the middle classes and the poor families have been affected by the spiralling prices of essential commodities, which refuse to stabilise despite concern shown and promises made by the Prime Minister, finance minister, Planning Commission vice-chairman and others.
Earlier, people used to talk about pulses or onions or petrol when they talked about rising prices and its impact on their lives, but now it’s tea (selling for Rs. 7 per half cup), samosa (Rs 7 to Rs. 10 per piece), idli (Rs 30 to Rs. 40 per plate) or food (Rs 100 to Rs. 130 for a decent vegetarian thali) etc.
Therefore, not only commodities that one purchases for household use but prices of things that one consumes just like that as they come out of office with friends or when they feel a little hungry are also reaching a point that one thinks twice before taking his friends to a tea stall or a paan shop.
Tomato is selling for Rs. 60 per kg and no vegetable except for lady’s finger is costs less than Rs. 50 per kg.
Vegetable vendors attribute this unprecedented rise in the prices of vegetable to poor production and increase in the prices of diesel.
Suraj Yadav, a vegetable vendor said, “We can’t do anything. Due to increase in prices of vegetables, our profit margin has decreased. Rise in price of diesel and rainy season is responsible for this. The prices of vegetable like tomato, onion and coriander have increased a lot. In the coming days, may be people get relief from rise in prices of other vegetable but onion price will be increased again.”
HT talked to traders, people in service sector and industrialists to understand how price hike is affecting the lives of common man.
HT also talked to two families - a government employee’s family and a businessman’s family to see how the hike is affecting their domestic budgets.
Hemant Majumder (45), a resident of Indrapuri, is a bank manager.
Hemant has to fulfil needs of his five member family in Rs. 60,000.
It was quite a sufficient amount till recently for a decent living but now it is becoming difficult for him to maintain the same standard of living.
Hemant said, “The worst affected lot is the middle class, especially salaried working class, which has to maintain a reasonable standard of living in a fixed income. I have two daughters - one is studying at engineering college and another in law college. Now, due to rise in prices of commodities especially food, it is becoming difficult for me to bear all the expenses comfortably. Nowadays, Rs. 100 note is like Rs. 10. I recently told my wife that she should also start working. I don’t think inflation would come under control in coming days.”
An employee of a private company Cema Solanki explained the effect of rising prices of her family with a deep crease of worry on her forehead.
She said, “It’s hard for me to follow the same budget during the whole month because the prices of petrol, vegetable and fruits increase twice or thrice in a month. So we have to change our expenses accordingly. The soaring price of vegetables is really a source of worry. Now, we can’t think of savings and outings because we have to maintain our budget in limited income. I have resorted to reducing the quantity of things that I usually purchase. We have started compromising with the quantity of nutritious food I used to buy for my children.”
A shopkeeper of Tulsi Nagar, Mahesh Parchani said, “Inflation has not hit only buyers but sellers too. We keep things in stock but customers purchase them in small amount, sometimes a lot of edibles get stale in the shop. Now people purchase things in grams instead of kilograms. Many families have reduced the quantity of items that they purchased. Even some families start to buy cheaper brands. For example, instead (per month) of buying Basmati, they have started purchasing rice of some lower quality. Same is the condition with flour, pulses and oils.”
A government employee, Bhavna Pandey (35), who lives in Char Imli said, “Rise in the prices of almost all the things, including essential commodities has become a common feature these days. A slight rise in prices is not a bad thing. It accounts for growth in the economy. But sudden and massive rise in prices causes an all-round spiral effect on prices of commodities that makes life of common people miserable. The prices of food grains have been rising continuously. The government should do something in this direction. Only then the real welfare of the masses can be ensured.”
A resident of Shahpura, Surya Prakash Agrawal (42), is a contractor by profession.
He now makes budget for household expenditure in the same way as he does for his business.
Agrawal said, “The cost of essential commodities, cost of construction or buying a house, the cost of education, house rent, transportation expenses to commute to school, work and social outings, the cost of essential commodities have gone up during the past one year or so. To make both ends meet and pay the fee of colleges of my two children, I have started spending my savings to keep pace with inflation. If the trend continues for a long time, I think people have to take loan to run their families.”
The rise in price of food items has affected students and hostellers too.
The hostel owners have increased rent of rooms by Rs. 200 to Rs. 2,000 in the name of inflation.
Many of the hostellers have started taking measures to lessen their expenditure via cutting short their frequent outings, movie going and travels.
An engineering student Nidhi Mate (21), lives in a hostel.
Her father gives Rs. 9,000 per month to her which includes hostel fees and her routine expenses.
For Nidhi, it was enough amount for a month but in the past 7-8 months, she is finding it difficult to maintain her expenses with this amount.
Nidhi said, “Earlier, I used to shop, frequent outing and taking food in the restaurant was part of my routine but in the past few months, I have cut it drastically,” she said. Besides, my hostel rent has also been raised by Rs. 1,000.