Reckless Price Rises
Whenever there is any talk about galloping food prices or the abnormal increase in retail inflation, the government is quick to come out with the excuse that there is no scope for control of food prices (or any prices for that matter) in a free market economy. This is an irresponsible statement that seeks to ignore how the price line has been held down in the past in India as well many other countries that are part of the free market economy. Where the BJP-led NDA government seems to have failed the country is in holding the price line for the man in the street. There is now the distinct impression that the government cares more for the interests of the traders than it does for the sufferings of the people on the price front, especially where food items are concerned. In Assam, the prices of all food items have increased from anything between 116 per cent to 525 per cent in the 15-year span between 2001 and 2016, exactly the period when the Congress government of Tarun Gogoi was in power. During this period, the price of fine rice increased between 123 and 157 per cent, the price of sugar between 116 per cent and 122 per cent, the price of Arahar dal between 402 and 525 per cent and even the price of the humble potato between 50 and 79 per cent. This is not the kind of situation where the government can claim immunity by talking about its helplessness in a free market economy. It is accountable to the people, and must take very firm steps to control prices of food items.