iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Jaipur, July 17, 2013
Rising prices and the falling rupee has combined to make a volatile Molotov cocktail, exploding on the common man’s face in a nightmarish experience of daily living. From housewives to vehicle-owners to the student community, none has been spared from the cascading effects of rise in prices of essential commodities and free-fall of the rupee.

The home-makers, it appeared, are the hardest hit as they have been forced to exclude many vegetables from the shopping list due to their sky-rocketing prices.

Geeta Agarwal, a homemaker from Jawahar Nagar in Jaipur, said that she has stopped buying tomatoes though the vegetable is a favourite among all family-members.

“The prices of tomatoes and onions have increased by three times of what we would get a couple of weeks back. While onions were available for Rs. 15-17 per kilogram, they have now shot up to Rs. 40-45 per kilogram. Tomatoes have touched Rs. 60,” she said.

Taruna Trivedi, a school teacher from Jodhpur, said that she used to buy vegetables of Rs. 200 thrice a week but now the same quantity of vegetables cost anything between Rs. 300 to 350.

“We have deleted certain vegetables from our list as prices of these vegetables have tripled since last 10-15 days,” said Mridula Sharma of Vaishali Nagar area in Ajmer.

Green coriander leaves and green chilies, which came complimentary with vegetables, are now being sold with a price tag over Rs. 80 a kg, she added.

Vegetable vendors too said that the surge in prices has affected their sales and there has been a subsequent decline in regular customers.

Pradeep Kumar, a vegetable vendor at the Jawahar Nagar Shopping Centre said “most of my customers who would buy kilos of onions and tomatoes have now restricted themselves to buying only potatoes. Only a few are ready to pay such high prices, that too reluctantly.”

Attaur Rehman Modi, a vegetable seller from Jodhpur city, said that though vegetable prices rise during every rainy season “but this year prices are soaring unusually”.

Traders are blaming short supply of the vegetables, fruits and other commodities in the market due to the heavy rains in various parts of the country.

The price of rice, pulses and other groceries have also been increased by 10 per cent to 15 per cent. “Rising prices of fuel is the major reason behind the soaring prices of groceries as it has over-burdened transportation costs,” said Ram Swaroop Parihar, a retailer in the Ghasmandi area of Jodhpur.

 Escalating fuel prices too have hit the family budget hard.

Mithikesh Sharma, a software engineer from the city, said that since public transport was pathetic “we are left with no alternative but to shell out more and more money on petrol”.

Many people, struggling hard to fight mounting inflation, are trying to open up extra sources of income. Anjali, a resident of Raja Park and a homemaker, is one among them.

“The fall in rupee had long indicated inflation. Therefore, with the start of new session in schools, I have started giving tuitions to the children in my neighbourhood. This is how I can fight the ever escalating prices,” she said.

While some have curbed their weekend eating-outs, many have postponed their plans to enjoy a vacation abroad.

Nikhil Juneja, a businessman from Vidhyadhar Nagar, cancelled his holiday plan to Mauritius.

“I, along with a group of friends, had planned a trip abroad during a long weekend next month. But not it is impossible for us to fight the cost and hence we have cancelled the plans.”

Students are feeling the pinch too.

Divya Kothari, resident of Paota in Jodhpur who pursued her BTech degree from Jaipur, had planned to go abroad for her post graduation, but dropped her plan.

She said, “I opted out because the cost of studies in a foreign country is already high but with fall in rupee it has become costlier.”

The fee for her PG course was Rs. 60 lakhs which increased to Rs. 68-70 lakhs now.

Another student Aniket Sangwan from Jodhpur who had applied in John Hopkins University in US too backed out.

He wanted to do MBA from US but with the downfall in value of rupee, he was left with no option other than applying in Indian universities. The fee was Rs. 45 lakh before and has increased to approximately Rs. 48 lakh.