Negative signals: on falling inflation rates

Falling food prices will intensify rural distress; the solution is meaningful agricultural reform

The days when inflation(मुद्राप्रसार) could topple governments appear(दिखाई/आभास होना) to be gone. It is now time for the government to worry about falling prices, especially(ख़ास तौर पर) of food. Retail inflation dropped to a 17-month low of 2.33% in November, as compared(तुलना) to 3.31% in October, primarily due to the fall in the prices of various(विभिन्न) essential(आवश्यक ) food items. Food prices fell by a huge 6.96 percentage points compared to a year ago and, at minus 2.61%, are now in deflationary territory(क्षेत्र/राज्य) for the second successive(क्रमिक/लगातार) month. The fall in inflation is obviously(शायद/स्पष्टतः) good news for consumers, particularly those in urban India who are happy to pay less for theirpurchases;(खरीद) also for the Reserve Bank of India, which will now have more room for manoeuvre(पैंतरेबाज़ी) in the matter of interest rates. But it is bad news for the producers(उत्पादकों) of basic food items who are located in the distress(संकट )-affected(प्रभावित) rural(ग्रामीण) parts of the country, with falling farm incomes(कृषि आय ) also impacting(प्रभावित) landless labour and rural demand. At the heart of this problem is the unpredictability of farm prices, which are known to exhibit extreme levels of volatility owing to various supply-side issues that plague the agricultural sector(कृषि क्षेत्र।). Though farmer producer companies have stepped in with help and guidance to farmers to use hedging tools to minimise price risks, they are too few and far between to make a difference. And even when their produce finally commanded impressive(प्रभावशाली ) prices in the retail market, the cartelised agricultural marketing system has made sure that farmers received little to nothing.

Ahead of the general election next year, State governments across the country are likely to resort to short-term reliefmeasures(उपाय) such as farm loan waivers(छूट) to temporarily relieve(राहत देने) farmers of their deep(गहरी ) distress(परेशानी).Further, with the issue of rural distress now expected to significantly affect the general election verdict(फैसले/निर्णय), the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are already engaged in a competitive(प्रतियोगी/प्रतिस्पर्धात्मक) battle(लड़ाई/संग्राम) to offer the highest extent of loan waiver(छूट) to farmers. There will also be pressure(दबाव) to announce(घोषणा ) higher minimum support prices for various agricultural goods. It is another matter that no government has ever had the wherewithal to deliver on such lofty promises. In fact, the poor implementation(अमल/कार्यान्वयन) of MSPs is one of the reasons for farmers taking to the streets in protest(विरोध/अस्वीकार). The Centre may prod the new RBI Governor to adopt a more dovish monetary policy stance in the run-up to the election citing falling inflation figures. But none of these measures will help farmers, who have increasingly(तेजी से) taken the protest route of late to make their demands heard, in any meaningful manner in the long run. Real agricultural reform is crucial to enable farmers to freely make their own business decisions without the grabbing(हथियाने)hand of the government.

 

Important Vocabulary

1. Inflation(मुद्राप्रसार)
Synonyms: boom, expansion, hike, rise, aggrandizement
Antonyms: abridgment, compression, decrease, reduction, deflation

2. Appear(दिखाई/आभास होना)
Synonyms: arrive, come, come out, crop up, develop
Antonyms: abandon, conceal, depart, disappear, go

3. Various(विभिन्न)
Synonyms: assorted, different, discrete, disparate, distinct
Antonyms: alike, combined, connected, joined, like

4. Essential(आवश्यक ) 
Synonyms: crucial, fundamental, imperative, indispensable, main
Antonyms: auxiliary, extra, inessential, minor, needless

5. Battle(लड़ाई/संग्राम)
Synonyms: action, assault, attack, bloodshed, bombing
Antonyms: accord, ceasefire, harmony, peace, etreat

6. Successive(क्रमिक/लगातार
Synonyms: consecutive, ensuing, subsequent, succeeding, alternating

7. Verdict(फैसले/निर्णय)
Synonyms: answer, award, conclusion, decision, decree
Antonyms: accusation

8. Competitive(प्रतियोगी/प्रतिस्पर्धात्मक)
Synonyms: aggressive, ambitious, competing, cutthroat, vying
Antonyms: noncompetitive, unambitious

9. Grabbing(हथियाने) 
Synonyms: capture, catch, clutch, grasp, grip
Antonyms: be immune, free, give, let go, liberate

10. Increasingly(तेजी से)
Synonyms: more, more and more, progressively, with acceleration
Antonyms: decreasingly, less

 

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