In the last ten years, prices of every commodity in the market has increased. More so, the food prices. With the constant increase in all prices, poor are finding it difficult to spread their meagre incomes across all the needs. Many studies show that the immediate casuality is the food.
However, Pranab Mukherjee and Montek Singh Ahluwalia are happy that there are no protests, despite ‘n’ number of price rises, and inflation rise. They are happy that more cars, refrigerators, mobiles, TVs and FMCGs are selling. They would continue to rely on indices such as GDP, WPI and CPI. RBI Governor has rubbished the data that generates these indices. Everyday, we are subjected to false indicators of growth. Montek has gone one step ahead, saying if someone in a city can spend Rs.20 per day, he/she is above poverty line. Lines can be lowered and increased, as per the ideology of the economists. But, what is happening with the poor people? How are they coping with these prices?
Usually, the mothers and women start starving once in a day, or more, depending on the situation. Gradually, it would spread to the entire family. They would try to increase their income, by employing the entire family. So, a child becomes labour. They would sell their belongings. Savings will go down. Education becomes a complete no. Health issues are postponed. In extreme situations, cheaper options are explored, which may solve or increase the burden.
Loans are taken. Debts would increase. Labour becomes enslaved. Migration in search of better incomes happens. Despite all these, when the two ends do not meet, drinking becomes a habit. Family burden is sought to be reduced. Old people get abandoned. Disabled children are disowned. Girl child becomes a source of income. Poor might sell their ‘bodies’.
There will be fights between the family members, Brothers kill each other. Father is killed by sons. Sons kill their father or mother. Children are forced to do this and that. Old people are ‘killed’. Ultimately, children are also sold.
All these happen in phases, like gear shifting, from one level to higher levels, of responding, adjusting and coping. They are happening. While a ‘conscious’ world might get shocked, aghast at way things are turning out, there is no effort on linking it with the economy around.
In India, which is considered as the abode of family values, selling children is seen as obnoxious. When people are dispossessed of their assets, their access to income is cut-off, their access to land and water is denied, their community living is destroyed, their coping mechanisms would vary from suicides to killing others.
It is time government took a serious look at why prices are rising, instead of putting the onus on the international volatility. Remember in early 1990s, the same Manmohan Singh and his ilk have promised moon if we get globalised. While some may have reached the moon, for many normal life is becoming extremely difficult.
Unfortunately, the politics of deprivation and dispossession does not get the same attention as power politics. Each social anomaly, reported and unreported, is the result of economic policies and the continuous refusal to ‘review the path’ of growth.