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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Teleshopping and India's inflation

Inflation, Mahangai: the words that so marked the 80s are back in business, worldwide. In India, while basic food inflation has reached a back-breaking 10%, for many items, it has reached 100,000% as in Zimbabwe. A case in point is the popcorn available at multiplexes, so expensive that De Beers is thinking of entering the popcorn business with a tagline “Popcorns are forever”. 300 ml of soda drinks are available at Indian airports for upwards of Rs 30 (75 cents); I wonder what supply chain they use. Taking the cue, the IIMs have trebled their fees since they rightly believe that they are the worst affected by rising sugar, edible oil and food grain prices.

In India, escalating prices haven’t responded to strong currency, high interest rates or the slowing economy. While many blame it on the global situation, export curbs on Indian produce are unlikely to cause much difference for many key products such as wheat where prices of local produce is already higher than world prices. The much promised supply chain efficiencies with the coming of retail chains have also turned out to be a hoax.

As such, there is a need for drastic measures to curb inflation even if they sound hilarious to some. One can learn from Philippines where legislators have suggested making it compulsory for the top 100 companies in the country to produce rice. One way could be for the government to vigorously promote the religious practice of Upvaas or fasting to ease demand. Public TV stations need to telecast messages like “Zaraa sa upvaas, fir inflation bakwaas” in lines with that messianic family planning PR effort of “Zaraa si savdhaani, zindaagi bhar asaani”. We should invest in R&D by people like Baba Ramdev so that he can develop new breathing techniques to control craving for food.

Serious and long term measures such as making another push for land reforms are unlikely to be taken up in India’s democracy, accustomed to creating easy loopholes in all land reform related initiatives. This, despite strong evidence that self-cultivation of small farms ensures far higher productivity than cultivation by tenants or hired labor of large farms and the so obvious benefits of land reform for India where only 9.6% of landowners own 56.2% of land. (Source: D Bandyopadhay, EPW)

All the same, there is one quick fix which can immediately solve the inflation problem and that is to make it compulsory for tele-shopping companies to sell food grains, edible oils, sugar etc. Given their practice of offering seemingly huge discounts on everything and selling many things for the price of one, these tele-shopping networks will help solve food related inflation in a jiffy. Indeed, a combo of 10 kilo of basmati, a free shree-yantra, and a jogging simulator, all for the price of one, will go a long way in solving our inflation owes.


Online Teleshopping said...

This is surprising but true post. Practice of offering seemingly huge discounts on everything and selling many things for the price of one, these tele-shopping networks will help solve food related inflation in a jiffy. Thanks for this sharing.

Anonymous said...

Great point you make there. good POST.. I like your perspective on this subject.

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