One of the most visible failures of the State government is its failure to hold the price line. All talk about a free market and the government’s intention not to control prices will fail to cut any ice because (a) food prices have been badly hit and (b) there has been no major increase in the price of diesel to warrant the kind of irresponsible price hikes that we have witnessed recently. Let us not forget that during the last couple of years, there have been several instances of diesel prices being lowered. There was no price decrease on those occasions. As such, the recent modest increase in diesel prices ought not to be mentioned as the reason for the rampant increase in food prices. In Assam, the reasons for the sharp increases in food prices are well known. Food prices have risen dramatically in Assam because of the government’s ibility to end the activities of the cartels or syndicates or to reduce the number of middlemen that affect food prices (especially vegetable prices). Most people now believe that the government is on the side of the syndicates and traders and not on the side of the people. This is because not a single offending cartel or syndicate has been closed down through government action. There is a minor shortage of onion supplies. But there is no reason for onion prices to touch Rs 70 per kilo. Besides, the prices of vegetables differ greatly between the rural and urban areas. In the ultimate alysis (because the government has shown itself to be incapable of taking action to benefit the people), the people must initiate action on their own to bring prices down. This will inevitably take the form of a consumer resistance movement. Let people stop buying onions just for a week, and we shall all see how onion prices tumble. We cannot stop buying all vegetables, but we can certainly reduce our purchases to half for just one week. Prices are bound to come down in a few weeks if the people reduce the quantum of food they buy just for a week or two. Since we do not have a Ralph dar to organize this for us, we shall have to organize our own consumer resistance movement.
No Hopes of Fair Prices