Dr Asangba Tzüdir
The COVID-19 pandemic which is ever on the increase in India has had adverse effects on various sections of people. While it has thrown up pertinent challenges mainly on the infrastructural front, the impact on economy has been deeply felt especially the price rise.
The Economic Times has reported that Gold prices in the National Capital rose to Rs. 50,830 INR per 10 gram (As on July 13). The price of oil too, especially petrol and diesel, where the price of diesel is becoming costlier than petrol. Those closely following the daily increasing trend since the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, would provide better perspectives on the reality of the situation. One would like to wish that the increase is only confined to statistical interest and only for the consumption of the statisticians; however, the reality is felt by everyone.
Many people are now encountering inflation that, in the not-too distant future even major economies will face upwardly spiraling prices, but the worst fear being bringing into effect bad policies resulting in further price rise. For now, the intellectual parlor given by the Chief Economist of International Monetary Fund, Olivier Blanchard that he “cannot completely dismiss a small probability of high inflation”, which cannot be blindly dismissed for want of clarity, and for sure, it will matter a lot for people at the top making policies today, and also be ready to face different economic scenarios.
Which various sectors are badly hit due to the continued lockdown, a major concern is the unemployment scenario which is also compounded by skill imbalance, will also be attested by weaker wages and thereby unfavorable leverage of bargaining power.
In our own backyard, price rise is deeply felt by the consumers made more painful by the lack of proper price control mechanism. The pain of reduced mileage is deeply felt by those taking the vehicle to the fuel station for a refuel. In, Dimapur, now with Super market and New market areas closed, the whole of Dimapur literally has become a market. Vegetable vendors are seen everywhere, across footpaths, even inside barbershops. However, it seems like the vegetables rotting away is not much of a concern to the vendor as the increased price takes care of the vegetables depreciated.
Even the time limit of closure of shops also has a negative impact on the pricing because of the reduced working hours so also selling time. Further, even on the safety scale, one would wonder whether letting the shops open all day is better than setting a time limit for closure. The closure time being limited, it rather floods the market with no room for maintaining social distancing which is a serious cause of concern because leaving aside the politics and its associated contentions, the rise in the number of positive cases, so also the increasing rate of increase is indeed alarming. The trend is indicative of the fact that SOP’s have not been properly followed and it is just a matter of getting to a situation where things are awfully beyond control and management.
Coming back to the price rise, it is unprecedented, especially vegetables which effects everyone, and this calls for a serious check by the concerned authority. If not, undue advantage will be enjoyed by the vendors.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to the Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to email@example.com)