Surging price of commodities and necessary goods has nearly paralyzed common man's life and his food habits. The increase in price of rice, wheat, pulses, oil and other cereals and grains is changing all expectations both economically and politically. The Government of India has taken very negligible steps to contain the price rise and in fact, has failed to do so in its attempt citing the poor monsoon showers. Sadly, this has led to the increase of smuggling and illegal storing of commodities by anti-socials thus severing the whole situation.
Rs. 20 per Kg of rice is Rs.60/-, Rs.40 per Kg of pulses is selling for Rs.100/- and same is the proportion of rise in price for other commodities. Needless to mention the surge of price of fuel required for transportation.
We should ask a question to ourselves, why a product manufactured here in this country or a commodity cultivated in this land costs more when it comes to market. Rice is not imported from any foreign land; Edible oil is not produced somewhere in the world and gets imported here. Production of Cereals does not require any imported raw materials. We are paying huge prices for the goods produced here in the same land where we live. It does not require any duties or taxes to be paid to anyone.
The government has not done enough to curb the prices; instead, it is fuelling the price rise indirectly by announcing the rise of in-take price of grains and cereals. The Farmers and producers are recklessly demanding higher price for their products citing various reasons like poor rains. The farmers do get many benefits from the government such Waiving of loans, utilizing electricity for free of cost and the availability of crop seeds and fertilizers at concession prices etc.,
So, what has to be done? Where exactly the problem is? And, what is the solution?
Quite obviously, the solution does not lie in the statistics provided by Agencies and Government sources. The rate of Inflation might have gone in negative numbers, but still there is short of money every where. The economic slowdown would have gained momentum, but, the rate of jobless is more or less the same. The economic growth rate would have been maintained at 9% but it is at the cost of paying mindless bucks for any commodity. Numbers merely reflect the superficial state of the nation but not the ground reality.
Clearly, the solution does not lie in rationing of every other commodity. The distribution of groceries through designated co-operative stores and ration shops is very scantily utilized by the middle class. It has wider reach geographically and systematically, but has very negligible impact on the economic structure and pricing of goods. It is mainly meant for serving the poor and for organizing the distribution process, but not to cater and usher in times of grim situations like economic recession, price-rise etc.
Evidently, the solution does not lie in the recently glooming mushroom-like, western-based chain of stores run by business tycoons. They have come in to existence just for symbolizing our economic growth and capitalization of merchandise that meets the common man's day-to-day needs. They failed to reach the masses and the poor. They talk of quality and quantity, and are actually justifying the price-rise with no doubt.
Does Gandhian approach have any means to solve this? It is nothing but basic principles of economics. The economics of demand and supply!
The price of an article is governed by the demand for it. Who can check the law of demand and supply? Who governs what I prepare for dinner and what is required to prepare it? More the demand, more the supply and higher the price.
The current price rise cannot be judged under this law. In modern times, these principles seemed to deviate from its original effects. The marketing analysis shows neither sudden surge of utilizing commodities nor the higher production and supply. The economic factors like inflation, jobs, and even the recession might be quoted as causes for the rise in price. The poor monsoon has adversely affected the production but will it affect the price? The scarcity of commodities, though an important factor, has very less impact on the pricing structure.
One should not forget the capitalization and exploitation of the situation by big brands who sell even peanuts in different colors. They do even worse things to flourish in the market and are greedy and selfish enough to breakdown the balanced economic system. The innocent public should be made aware of these miscreants and the government should also not patronize them.
More importantly, the channel-izing of a commodity needs to be eased out. From the production house to the consumer, currently a product has to go through many agents and intermediaries thus inflating the price at every stage. The government must try to reduce these channels and try to directly distribute the goods to the public effectively making use of not only ration shops, but also the other retail outlets and stores. The government must understand the use of more number of middle agents would surely increase the retail price of any commodity.
We should remember how Gandhi revived the use of Spinning Wheel at every home and Ashram to produce handspun clothes and generated indigenous work for the semi-starved, semi-employed men and women in the days of British Raj. At the time of establishing new mills, he had opted out for home-spun clothes not only for the sake of Khadi movement, but to make clothes available for cheaper prices.
To cope up with the growing support for power machinery and industrialization, His Swadeshi movement stayed focus on self-styled productions and purely liberated ways of doing business.
In today’s context, this would mean that any commodity should traverse through a minimal channel from the production point to the consuming point. This would mean that the balancing of Globalization and Privatization must be kept at par with each other. And, this would mean the basic principles of economy be shadowed upon the pricing of a commodity.
While doing so, numbers may go wrong but hopefully, we get the right price.