As one sets one’s thought process abuzz, the finger moves on with equal celerity to chronicle happenings that one sees around. It is indeed a matter of regret that a country of continental size like India does not appear to be seriously bothered about the widening inequality that is manifest today. The glitzy malls one sees in the backdrop of rancid ambiance is but a sheer paradox and nobody appears to be concerned over the plight of numerous small vendors who eke out their sparse existence. No doubt, the malls present a contrast by purveying things in an alluring package and at a cheaper rate but hidden in such glossy servings are the tricks of the bulk volume business which no ordinary purchaser would be able to see through. While the goods sold by the petty shop keepers or vegetable/fruit vendors may not be so efficiently delivered, they are nonetheless giving the customers the customary bonhomie and warmth of the seller which is absolutely found wanting in big stores. Here the people move in a mechanical manner with trolley in tow with least courtesy even if they happen to bump into each other. Against this stony setting that presents a beauty appearance, in a small roadside shop or street-corner stores one can look around to savor the place and the persons who visit there to feel that the differences among us are not much!! I am recently relieved to note that in the Financial Times (London) FT correspondent Mr. Harry Eyres presented a monograph titled “How to defy the supermarket Gods?” (March 16) which bewails the craze for splendid shopping arcades which lamentably lack the aroma and simple styles of any ordinary small shops. Being modern does not mean that one can be impervious to the ills plaguing the society and it would be nothing short of putting the cart before the horse if we do not pay sufficient heed to take care of the small retail merchants by intensifying the spread of mall culture in our midst! G.Srinivasan, Journalist, New Delhi, Inde
The decision by the Indian Government on January 17, 2013 to let oil marketing companies regularly jack up the price of diesel in line with the global price gyrations is a step in the right direction. Not only this would help reduce the huge oil subsidy bill the government had been running, but would greatly help people to be conscious of the cost of the fuel to adapt conservation, besides preventing adulteration of diesel with kerosene (another highly subsidized fuel purported for the vulnerable sections) to run the cross-country truck business. It is time that the government began vacating its vice-like grip on the proper use of scarce national resources such as fuel so that the process of price recovery by market forces of demand and supply could be smoothly ensured. Of course, this might cause miseries to millions of poor people but in a country where entitlement schemes are permanent works in progress, the hardships could be borne with stoicism. Those who had bought diesel-driven auto fleet including costly Sports Utility Vehicles and other gas-guzzlers should stand to feel the pinch as this segment need not be unduly patronized by the authorities. As the nation is not endowed with enough energy particularly fossil fuels such as oil and gas, let it be clear by the delayed but deserved action of the authorities that they no longer would remain a mute spectator to the profligate consumption of costly fuels by elements that do not believe in conservation culture and the value of nothing. Probably the market-aligned diesel price by degrees would help many a person to know the real value of the fuel they had been feasting on for far too long with no compunction! Knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing is not the way to go if the nation is to be built on sustainable model of development for the larger benefits of all its denizens. Jai Hind. G.Srinivasan, Journalist, New Delhi, Inde
In a pluralistic society like India, the government of the day has a greater responsibility in avoiding disarray in governance. But this is precisely what the UPA government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh is fostering by its considerable actions of commission and omission, both literally and metaphorically. It appears that the people of India are not fed up with media highlighting all burlesque happenings of politicians, civil societies and cricketers in a country where the game has a greater following. Some times it looks as if these diversionary focus is what keep the poor and middle class people entertained and oblivious to the stark reality that life on the ground is grinding to a halt. The role of governing class as also the media is rather quite unfortunate as both of them are not doing what is proper to inculcate the eternal values of life so that fripperies and frivolities that feed the frailties are not pandered to. It is time level-headed people realized the directionless and rudderless manner the country is ambling on, though it is touted to be an emerging economy with demographic dividend to take care of its fortunes in the years ahead. If right measures are not put in place before long, the prospects of the country and its potentials would remain left unaddressed and un-redressed to the detriment of its million people.
That the Indian government gathered spunk to slap the steepest increase in petrol prices after a protracted phase of reform-fatigue had not surprised many because talks of ‘tough decision’ or ‘biting the bullet’ were heard prior to this punitive measure. But what left many flummoxed is the severity of the hike particularly on one fuel, leaving the bloating subsidy on diesel or cooking gas(liquefied natural gas) largely intact. It is widely known that diesel is being adulterated with kerosene (also a highly subsidized fuel for the vulnerable sections) and most of the heavy-duty trucks that criss-cross the country belch smokes use this merrily and extensively. Of late India’s booming affluent class also prefers to use diesel-driven high-end auto fleet and the subsidy on diesel borne by the tax payers money is a mockery of concerns for the underprivileged. It is time the authorities showed mettle in promoting conservation or moderation in consumption by effecting increase in the prices of diesel or cooking gas, mostly consumed by the affordable sections of society. For farm purposes diesel price can be given at a concessional rate so that farmers do not suffer on this score. It is one thing to preach austerity but it requires immense foresight and wisdom to put it into practice by taking incremental moves towards recovering cost of products sold or services rendered without savagely hurting people where it hurts them heavily.