Mehengayi Daayan


The above song is only for representation and not the theme of the post.

But this might be a time for us to celebrate the increase in the prices, for there is no other way to keep one cheerful against the spiralling inflation. I know it looks a bit stupid and foolish of me, believe me I’m not keen on acting like a moron for no reason. Unless we get over the shock of quadrupling prices, how else will we find a solution? So let us begin now, please play the above song and shake a leg (own) or two… and sing while I wait. Sakhi Saiyyaann… waah waah!

Now if you are done, let us concentrate on three major commodities which have been contributing to the fodder (discussions against inflation). And we will not behave like leaders of opposition demanding the resignation from the PM. We will analyse and find out practical workable means to reduce prices, or at least consumptions. Ready?

1) Motor Fuel (Petrol, Diesel): Motor fuel is said to have contributed the highest to the rising inflation. In Mumbai, petrol prices have gone up by nearly 33%, or INR 18 in last 2 years, INR 13 of which has increased in last 1 year and INR 6 in last couple of weeks alone. The frequent rise is blamed on the unstable crude oil prices in the global markets. This data gives us a good picture of how the per barrel prices have gone up in the US domestic market. The prices have tripled in last 10 years alone. No wonder why prices in India have also increased by similar margins. However the way we are charged for the same litre of petrol is idiotic. 40% of the prices we pay while buying petrol goes to the government in the form or various taxes such as VAT, excise, customs plus local octroi etc. That is where the problem lies. If you compare the prices of petrol world over (data available here), prices in some or most of the developed countries are either marginally higher or marginally lower than the prices in India. This is despite their purchase power parity being much more than us. If they are not taxed heavily, why are we?

Probably the first thing we can do to avoid this is to consume much less fuel. A better solution can be to use cars, bikes with better mileage or use public transport as much as possible. The taxation is not in our hands. So if we can evade them, we can avoid the commodities which are heavily taxed.

2) Onion: If there is a commodity quite literally making us cry, it is the Onion. 5 years ago, I remember buying an onion at less than INR 10 a kg. Today the price has gone up by 7 times. Luckily we had bought 5 kg onions at about 23 about two months ago. That was when the onions started going up. Frankly speaking, Onion is hardly a vegetable that should get all this importance. But then it is also a vegetable that finds an irreplaceable place in the Indian menu. And so some one has decided to take advantage of it. I can blame Sharad Pawar & Congress  fair and square for this. Onions are a kind of vegetable can be produced by poorest of poor farmers. But none of the policies by the government to protect their rights ever get implemented. As a result, the vegetables are bought at a dirt rate and sold with a high margin. That is still fine if I’m spending as much as my income permits. What is bad is the way they have been exporting all the necessities, thereby creating temporary shortage.

The best way is to oppose any such measure by the traders, try buying from the sellers themselves. I know a few guys who, fed up of middle men, themselves went to the villages, encouraged the small farmers to join them and started selling their farm fresh vegetables in their cars at a much discounted price. I have bought from such people and I know how good the model can be to prevent increasing prices. All it needs is a commitment.

3) The Essentials: Such as milk, lentils, rice, pulses etc. I remember a time in 2007 when I bought Surti Kolam rice for just 22 per kg! Today, the same rice price has gone up to almost 50 per kg in Mumbai. The reason is again no different than that for the onions. Even the prices of Milk have gone up in a similar manner. I tried to find out why such  differential pricing when the cost of production hasn’t gone up all that much. I realised that even the sellers who are willing to give discounts are bound by the union prices, that is the prices the market unions fix. So a local vegetable seller buys his goods from the APMC market in Vashi at a certain price and is immediately told the selling price. It is now up to the seller to decide his margin. Though knowing that the price of the good, say onion, when bought was about INR 10 a kg, he has no option but to sell it at INR 65 because he bought it at upwards of 50, all because of a union. And I have not made this up, it is a fact. The solution already exists in point number2.

Sigh! It took me lot of time to write this post. And after glancing it once, I’m feeling like a child who was cheated of his kite and manja. We talk about the growing inflation, growing economy and I think they run hand in hand. While the facilities available with me have increased, I feel my life is no different than a middle class of 1950s or 60s. Sad,but true :-)

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14 responses to “Mehengayi Daayan

  1. Everything is expensive these days. Yesterday i went to buy some kites for me and was shocked to see the prices. Guy was selling 2 rs kites for rs 6!!! I asked him this is a very small kite and price is almost 3 times higher. He simply replied, this is the only price and i am earning only 0.5 per kite. I went to Itwari bata kite store and got the same sized kites at Rs 2.5/kite.

    Everyone seems to be taking disadvantage of the current situation. Hope this will stop soon. God knows how poor people managing who earns 100/day.

    • Rs. 2.5 per kite? I remember we used to go to Bata and buy the One rupee kites at half the prices. Amazing days they were. It has been ages since I flew kites. :-)

      Your point by the way is true.

    • @Ajay I think paper price is still OK. Because of cutting down of more and more trees day by day ,paper is getting costlier. To decrease its value, simply grow more trees-> get more land -> reduce our poor country’s population-> IMPOSSIBLE. lol

  2. I don’t run the house so I am yet to feel the heat…but I read a story yesterday which said restaurants are now replacing onion paste with pumpkin puree to prepare dishes.

    @ Ajay, if the kite seller is charging Rs 6 it for the same reasons that you tried to save for… growing expenses… he too has a family to feed. A few Rs. won’t hurt your pocket so much but would make a difference to his. I know you guys must be thinking I am crazy, but I do apply this rule when shopping for low cost stuff from the road side vendors.

    • Hmmm I do apply this theory a lot too when I shop from road side. I don’t understand, we don’t mind splurging on the brands when we know it has more to do with the tag than the quality why do we mind in such cases? I too keep wondering how do people with Rs.3,000/4,000 income per month, that is when I started applying the above theory…

      • You got a point Sapna. But then the luxury goods/brands dont contribute to the inflation (because their buyers and the quantities is less). What is troublesome is that even the necessities are fast becoming luxury goods. Onion is already out of most menus. Soon other things may follow the suit. Don’t you think we have to pull the plug some where?

    • Hi Pallavi, I think Ajay was not pointing out that the road side seller was earning more by charging exorbitant rates. The point is that every commodity has a price of its own and only that price should be charged. We may not mind paying a little extra to a road side vendor. But many other such road siders buy from each other. Do they offer discounts to each other? The answer is no.

  3. “While the facilities available with me have increased, I feel my life is no different than a middle class of 1950s or 60s” – Agreed . It’s quite true…

  4. Even I don’t run the house as yet. (actually I do, but I am yet to feel the heat ) But still… Rs100 for a bottle of Budweiser…. too much…. Even the necessity is fast becoming a luxury good. When will they stop exploiting us…

    • @Sachin: A bottle of budwiser at 100 bucks in a restro bar is cheap. You know how much it costs in Mumbai. If you don’t, come over and we will find out ;-)

  5. I think incorporating the older “Barter system” again can become the only solution of increasing prices…lol. I HATE money less than its increasing value.

  6. @Delhizen: I agree with you completely. But he was not a road side seller. He was having quite big shop :D. I wont mind if they are charging 1 or 1.5 for our convenience. But 3 times is too much for me.

    See below which need to stop:
    1. Mineral water bottle in malls – Rs 25
    2. Phone prepaid recharge voucher – Rs 1 extra (No idea why)
    3. Cold drinks Rs 2 to Rs 3 (Cooling charges)
    4. Private bus fare (Pune – Nagpur goes upto Rs 1600 in season)
    5. Cigarette Rs 1 extra per stick. (No reason why)

    All above are day to day life commodities. If every time i think of others family then it will become hard for me to feed my own family ;)

    • @Ajay: Ha ha… that was some comparison. :-)

      Instead of comparing the prices in the market, we should compare our spend and then talk about inflation. Agree 100%

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