Pulsating Price of Pulses

5 08 2009

 

Dal roti khao, prabhu ke gun gao!”- is an old Kishore Kumar song of the ‘70s. This used to be the earthy philosophy of “Simple living, high thinking” of the middle-class India. Dal or pulses are an important constituent of the Indian diet whether in the South or North, rich or poor.

 

The prices of pulses are rising so fast that it is soon going to be out of reach of the Indian middle class. Tur Dal, also known as Arhar Dal, prices have risen from Rs 65 per kg in June’09 to Rs 96 in July (Hyderabad retail prices). There is news item in the papers that this is soon going to reach Rs 120 per kg in August. The prices of other pulses have also risen steeply, although the extent of increase is the highest in Tur.

 

The newspapers mention it is a combination of poor crop and inability of the government to import pulses from Africa which has led to this steep increase. Hoarding by the intermediaries also might be contributing to the hike in prices.

 

In India where governments have fallen on onion price increases, it is remarkable that the price increase of food items, particularly pulses, is hardly on the political agenda today. The main opposition party, BJP is staging walk-outs in the Parliament on Indo-Pak declaration issues. The main rabble rouser inside the government, champion of the ‘common peepul’ Mamata Banerjee is throwing tantrums on the land acquisition bill. Left is too busy fighting itsown quarrels.

 

The UPA came to power riding in the name of policies for the Aam Aadmi. To my mind,  the Aam Aadmi, more than being the target of their policies,  has become a mascot for catching votes. The UPA government has been particularly lucky that many of the Aam-Aadmi’s problems like inflation have surfaced only after the elections. The crude oil price increase and now the monsoon failure leading to inflation and crisis in agriculture have all happened after the elections. The Union Minister of Cricket, who incidentally also looks after agriculture as an additional responsibility has little interest in addressing these problems. Elections in Maharashtra must be on his mind.    

 

The Prime Minister who sees India through the files that come to him is still quite pleased that inflation is under check because the WPI for the last week is -1.2 %.

 

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi lives Ram Bharose! He is looking at the Rain God with hope, so that he can put some dal on his child’s plate. 

 

–          G. Mohan

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