Price Rise Hits Below The Poverty Belt

 Rampant inflation hits Assam's underprivileged hardest.

About the video:  The daily wages of laborers in Cachar district, Assam continue to remain as low as about 100 Rupees a day. In most cases, the laborers are the only earning members in the family. This tiny income has to provide for five to six people which tallies down to less than 20 Rupees left to spend on each person. Meanwhile, the prices for essential goods have tripled. One kilogram rice, which used to cost about 15 Rupees, now costs about 30 to 40 Rupees.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) is supposed to provide families below the poverty line with subsidized essential goods. But due to a lack of control of the middlemen, the PDS is badly managed and highly corrupt. Most laborers do not even receive a ration card that qualifies them for the scheme.

The families suffer from constant undernourishment. The education of the children is at risk as parents can not afford to send their kids to school. Without schooling and literacy, the children are doomed to the cyclic oppression in which their parents are held hostage.

The Community Correspondent says: Ajit Singh, our Community Correspondent from Assam says: "There is a lot of talk about inflation in India and its effects on the middle class and rich India. But the people who are being crushed by it are barely considered. When I spoke to the laborers I realized that they were still caught up in the fight for basic survival."

The Issue: Throughout India inflation remains uncomfortably high at over seven per cent. Millions of people across India continue to protest the price rise. They demand an end to the privatization of public entities and increased labor protection, which includes calls for a social security system and a minimum wage. 

The government has been increased the budget for the food subsidy program to an annual amount of Rs.90,000 crore. The scheme promises highly subsidised food, like 35 kg of rice and wheat at 2 Rupees and 3 Rupees per kg every month. But much of the money and grain are siphoned off by middlemen operating in a broken Public Distribution System. If the Government spends more money on subsiding food without reforming the distribution system, the money is wasted.

Article by Julia Lechner

Related Links:

The Government of Assam: 

"Not easy to be poor when poverty ends at Rs 34.67" (Economical Times):

"Millions Join Strikes Across India Demanding Reforms" (Common Dreams):

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