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Dear FM: Is the price rise not affecting you?
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April 09, 2008

Dear finance minister,

What you gave with generosity during your budget speech on February 29, 2008 is in the grave danger of being taken away by the general increase in price rise -- what we fondly say as a 'monster called inflation'.

For a good part (17-20 per cent approximately as calculated in the table below) of the extra bucks (approximately Rs 3,000-4,000 per month) which the salaried class will have when they (a huge demography including the ever-increasing young that join the workforce thanks to a booming economy) get their April salary will be gobbled up by the increase in the prices of daily essentials like rice, wheat, various dals and pulses, vegetable and cooking oil, vegetables et al.

And these items are considered essential by even the poorest sections of the Indian society -- that is perhaps the reason why fruits are not included in the above list.

Media reports last Friday screamed that the inflation figure has reached a high of seven per cent -- a three-year-high. Even if the figure of seven per cent may not mean much for ordinary Indian citizens who do not understand noble economic terms like inflation, they feel the pinch when prices of essential commodities increase and eat into their monthly grocery bills.

Vegetable oil prices and cooking oil prices were chiefly responsible for this surge, newspapers quoted a few economists the next day. They seem to have hit the point for here's a table that shows how the prices of essentials have increased over the February-March period.

The figures may differ from one place to another, from one city to a mofussil area but the main purpose of this table is to highlight just one point: prices are increasing faster and the monthly expenditure of every Indian � whatever her/his profession, age group, geography. More so for those who are young, into their first job and with a family to support.

The table below is based on what my grocer, a neighbourhood housewife and my milkman -- all Mumbai, Maharashtra residents -- told me and I have no reason to believe that they gave me fudged figures.













This translates into an increase of 17-20 per cent in household expenditure of an average Indian. And the Rs 40,000 increase in salaries because of hike in income tax limit would translate into an increase of 36 per cent for men and 24 per cent for women.

I have heard that you have taken several measures to rein in increasing prices. Hopefully, for all our sake, it will achieve its purpose. Till then I will try to cut down on my unnecessary kharcha (expenditure).

Yours truly,
A young Indian salaried citizen (in the 18-35 age group) under inflation's duress on behalf of all salaried individuals

PS: The whole purpose of increasing the income tax limit was to give more disposable income into our hands so that we could buy and consume more. Inflation just might defeat that purpose.

This letter should by no way mean that I am blaming only you for the price rise -- a host of other factors, local as well as global are responsible too. But I look upon you as somebody who can save us from the scourge of rising prices and hence this missive.

Are you also harried by the increase in price levels of essential items of daily use? Is your monthly budget going haywire because of inflation? What steps are you taking to soften the blow? Use the space below to write your letter to the finance minister.

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