Yesterday, this paper ran a front-page report about how the price of the humble spud or the potato is inching higher, soon to join onions on the ‘veggies that make you cry’ list.
It is shocking that an essential like the potato, used in most Indian dishes and certainly not considered a luxury food, is slowly becoming expensive for the middle class. Recently, we saw onion prices yo-yo for a while and then climb to ridiculous heights. Various reasons were churned out for the so-called onion shortage and the subsequent price rise.
First, it was too little rain, then too much rain then, and again some talk about a failed crop. India was supposed to get onions from overseas and some of these were procured, but for bureaucratic reasons and red tape, they were left rotting in go downs in the city and failed to alleviate the problem. One did not hear of anybody being held accountable for this inexplicable lapse and waste of funds.
Now, we see that potatoes are all set to do an onion imitation. The alleged reason for the price of the vegetable going up to approximately Rs 25 a kg is heavy rain. The common man is rightly skeptical about all these reasons being circulated. Sometimes it is too little or late rains, and at other times, the rains are too heavy or too sudden. What is the truth? How much rain is needed for a good crop?
Why can’t a country that has the expertise to launch a Mars mission have the wherewithal to save vegetables from getting destroyed? Does it not have the knowledge, or are all these shortages and price rise created deliberately? The common man, wants to know. Nobody seems to be accountable for rising prices and all these conflicting reasons are cementing people’s doubt that shortages and subsequent price rise is created by man, and ithe vagaries of nature.
Bitterness and frustration is rising along with prices. Leaders cannot use veggie prices as a political tool but need to understand the mood of the moment, which is that of disbelief and disgust.