By Binoy Viswam
The BJP government was enthusiastic to adorn the 75th year of independence with a high sounding name. Because of that, the people every day read and hear the term ‘Amritvarsh.’ The word suggests a year in which life would be victorious over death. As it happens with every ceremonious name coined by the BJP, Amritvarsh also is heading in the opposite direction, where death stares at life fiercely. Amritvarsh of India is characterised by unprecedented price hike on all the necessities of life. The people of India find it increasingly difficult to cope up with the shooting prices and their diminishing income. This Amritkaal is meant only for exploiters and looters. The dream of common people to have a decent life has turned into ashes. The wildfire of price rise has eaten away their hopes of life.
In the year of ‘Amritvarsh’, the price of daily commodities is higher than that of previous year. While, one litre of packaged milk would have costed Rs 56, this April it costed Rs 60. The rise in prices of vegetables last year was around Rs 80-100 for kg, this year it would cost Rs 100-120 for the same. The price on edible oil has doubled, a litre would have costed Rs 80-100 last year, now costs a Rs 200-220 this April. While the LPG used to cost Rs 450 two years ago for a common family with government subsidy, with Modi’s government ‘masterstroke’ to remove subsidies, the LPG now costs a staggering Rs 1050.The prices of petrol face a strange fate in the country, wherein prices decline before elections and increase afterwards while being controlled by ‘market forces.’ Only thing that has remained stagnant is the income, suffering of the masses and apathy of the government.
GST exercise of the government has been felt as a heavy blow to the common people. The latest GST rate hike was not against luxury goods but against the day-to-day essentials of a common family. Items such as curd and paneer which were previously exempted from GST, will now have a five percent charge of GST. Even daily staples such as wheat, rice and flour are not free from GST. Hospital rooms which remain as a constant reminder of the failure of Modi government during the deadly second wave of the pandemic bears GST. One would wonder, what the government intends by raising funds from commodities that affect the poorest the most, all amidst a global-supply chain crisis!
The Union finance minister is the architect of all comprising and the disastrous GST exercise. She has come out with her own justifications. But such futile exercise will not find an escape route for the Indian economy, which is already on a downward slide. It is true that the finance minister devotionally strives to become the committed exponent of ‘Modinomics’. But with all their overtime rhetoric and hard work, the Amritvarsh is painting a picture of doom.
The data coming from all sides portray this doom. As per the latest NFHS Survey conducted by the ministry of health and family welfare, 36 per cent of Indian children are stunted (too short for their age), 67 per cent of children suffer from some extent of anaemia, and even 57 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men suffer from anaemia. The survey also state, 35 out of every 1,000 children born in India do not live to celebrate their first birthday. A recent study published by PLOS Global Public Health reports that 70 per cent of the districts in India fail to meet Maternal Mortality Rate (mothers dying due to pregnancy related complications) target set by the United Nations. The Global Health Index 2021 rank 101 out of 116 countries, with 25 lakh Indians dying out of hunger, with a classification of ‘serious’.
As per the government’s State of Inequality Report, the top 10 per cent of the country earn merely 25,000 a month. One could imagine the state of those in the other side of the table. Adding to all of these is the declining Indian Rupee, which reached 80 rupees against one US Dollar. The State Bank of India chairperson, while admitting this would cause ‘short-term pains’, said: “It (further fall in the rupee) is required, otherwise exports will become absolutely unviable. It is important to maintain parity. It can be achieved only if the rupee is allowed to depreciate further.” His words are the warning signal for the salaried people and the downtrodden. Their lives are going to be further miserable.
The government is heard telling of India to learn from lessons neighbouring Sri Lanka. True, there are lessons for India from Sri Lanka, not for the people but the government. It is important for the government to learn divisive politics might give temporary electoral relief, but only real development with people-friendly policies can save any nation from disaster. (IPA Service)