The frenzied rise in petrol and diesel prices is to exhibit government’s confidence about the consequent public silence over the issue, or in other words a conspicuous lack of it.
The confidence is emanating from the fact that government is the most prominent psychologist sitting over voluminous Adhaar repository, millions of digital footprints & hundreds of data scientists working round the clock from their high-security office headquarters profiling our every move.
It’s an attempt by the government to prove that for the common citizen the present prices are yet not the testing limits, that people will happily shell out much more of their hard earned money for the same quantity of petroleum products on offer beginning any given night, that they have the requisite disposable income in their hand to pay off their bills at times of contingency.
Its a deliberate attempt to prove that in a country like India inflation is not an issue.
Sadly, they are right.
The near stable consumption pattern even after successive price hikes reaffirms government’s belief.
People on their part by remaining passive have removed any doubt whatsoever about inflation being an issue.
The opposition by maintaining its stony silence on the issue so far has reassured the government of the fact that for a country split on caste and communal lines prices of essentials are the last thing on the table.
Regardless of government’s confidence at ridiculing citizen understanding and opposition’s occasional cries, the crude reality is a large chunk of the population is struggling to keep with their lives day in & day out with the impact of the hike being felt from their kitchen to the karkhaanas(factories).
The figures being waved to elicit consumption stability are themselves problematic as they do not distinguish between changing consumption patterns of the rich and the poor.
It also fails to highlight that there are criminal levels of inequality in income because of which the near-daily few paisa raise are ignored by those who are affluent but pile up as debt and loss for the poor and marginalised.
With the accumulation of wealth in just a few hands, this monster of inequality is much more calamitous than inflation in general. But on the opposite what we see is a far more eerie silence on the subject.
The failure of neo-liberalism and market model which is at the heart of both the phenomenon of continued inflationary pressure and widening income inequality hardly find mention whenever there is a renewed debate occasion price rise.
Failure of critical speakers to present things as a whole adds to the confidence of this anti-people government.
It’s time we increase the shelf-life of our debate and not engage with any other thing till the government bends.