By Nandini Ray:
Is India on its way back to Stone Age?
With the inflation rate still stuck at an uncontrollable 9.72 percent in September, withholding the Indian economy at its edge, even a mere whisper of the word ‘hike’ could make any citizen of the nation almost lying next to its death bed. Apparently the issue of any sort of price hike might not be visible in case if you belong to at least one of the financially balanced middle class families having the time of their lives living in the metropolitans. But the real scenario is one precarious lot which probably even the ruling party that is United Progressive Alliance (UPA) couldn’t handle that well and had to eventually deregulate it, leaving it to the brass of the market in June 2010.
The petrol is one such fuel which has propelled the cycle of development in India and would continue to do so if either the petrol stays or the people buying them survive any further. The Indian government has totally confused its people as to what measures they should take to lessen their burden of financial crises. On one hand, the Finance ministry very cleverly explains the idea behind the Rs 32 mark of survival and to be precise, not to be called a ‘poor’, while after over a month they hike the petrol price by Rs. 1.80, which eventually makes a total cost of Rs 68.64 in Delhi, but still since one has Rs. 32 in its pocket, he/she is not poor and has the ability to buy a litre of petrol which actually costs the double of the standard set by itself. Everything seems to be too ironical, while at the same time superficial at the Centre. Certainly, the ministers are not spoon fed babies but the ones who follow the neo liberal economic ideologies and expecting such an attitude at such point of time when the nation is hit by inflation is meant to be their stupidity. Such statements issued just show lack of economic senses in the government or maybe the government assumes the civil society to be fools otherwise. The hike in petrol prices and various other economic reforms made seems to be done on very unbalanced grounds as some of their policies are either very idealistic or intricately realistic and some of them hung between them and all of these differences just acts as another hindrance in the understanding of the economic affairs especially for the common man.
Though the price hike in petrol has been a bone of contention for the people all the more after its deregulation, but the necessity to raise the price comes as an inevitable demand in order to match with the burden to import petrol as out of the total requirement of 106 million tons, only 32 to 33 million tons of petrol is produced in India and the rest imported, as mentioned in a statement by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He also mentioned about the ailing financial health conditions of the Indian oil companies that even they were handicapped and such a measure came along as a necessary move to overcome the burden. Being politically correct, Pranab Mukherjee has certainly been intelligent in its defense and in fact true to an extent, but giving shockers to the public one regular day is firmly unacceptable. It is the government’s responsibility to retain its transparency and letting the civil society know the current situation or any crises the government might be facing, as spreading information in such regard would not only help in evolving necessary measures to overcome the problems but also that ways the public won’t remain in the dark. Such a step would only help in making the public understand the situations better and not get down on the roads with the placards screaming a ‘Sudden Price Rise’.
On one hand, where people with petrol as one of their lifelines are depressed with such a drastic hike, on the other hand, the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and other gas companies in Delhi are having a good time. As more people are withdrawing from buying any petrol run vehicle and turning towards a cleaner and greener CNG or LPG run vehicle, it comes as a great opportunity for such companies to cash in more money, but in this case apart from the financial gains, the city is definitely reducing its pollution levels and indirectly acting as a deterrent for climate change, though only at a bare minimum level.