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Pulse prices: A rich man’s world

It was only last week that there was an alarming rise in the price of pulses and lentils making it come off the aam admi’s menu. The hoarders  hand in glove with the local Government indulged in unfair trade practices that took the price of the basic food necessities to a whopping 200 to 250 rupees and sometimes even more. The alarming price rise made the central Government wake up and take note. Arun Jaitley spoke of how state governments were doing precious little to rein in the hoarders. After a country-wide crackdown on hoarders, the Centre has been able to pull back price  of pulses by 20 rupees per kilogram. Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley recently spoke to the media stating that the prices for the pulses will further fall with the new season’s harvest. He added that the rise of sale of pulses coming up in the international market as well. He further added that the rate for pulses have subsided all over India within the last week. The rates have become more reasonable making it more affordable to the middle class. Lentils’ prices have also dropped to around 120 rupees a kilo. Arun Jaitley also held a meeting to review the availability of essential commodities just before Diwali. Post the review he initiated a plan with the Agricultural, Food and Consumer ministries stating that the prices of necessities such as pulses need to be reviewed and an additional stock is also to be set aside to deal with a crisis situation.

After scrutiny in over 13 states and acquisition of over 75000 tonnes of pulses recovered from hoarders, this was a well taken decision taken by the Finance Minister in order to tame the sky-rocketing prices. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Pulses which happen to be a major part of the regular livelihood of many farmers in the country are still incomparably expensive and hard for farmers to afford.  With the demand for pulses (dal) from Janmashtami to Diwali, some use the pulses for religious activities which is now at an unfortunate situation of compromise. Though there has been a consecutive lack of rain over the past two years, the Government has also lacked in policies which ensure the fixed upper limit for essential commodities  especially that which forms the staple diet of the middle and lower income groups. They also happen to be the major voting population in the country. The Government’s decision to create a buffer stock so late has been unfortunate and with an unholy nexus propping up prices by creating an artificial scarcity. The most economical source of protein in the country definitely needs to find its place in the more affordable section along with enough stocks to support the country in a moment of crisis like the one it finds itself in.
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