The hike in the price of petroleum at the instance of OPEC has triggered a series of incidents and created its own impact on the oil importing countries in the world. The heavily populated countries like China and India have been facing the wrath of the common man. Especially in India, which is the largest democracy in the world, spontaneous outbursts and agitations occurred across the country, sponsored by the political parties like BJP and the Left.
Petroleum products like petrol, diesel and cooking gas were hiked by the petroleum ministry as decided by the cabinet, by Rs 5, Rs 3.50 and Rs 50 respectively. The price hike in cooking gas was unprecedented as much as 17 %.
Novel methods of protests and agitations hitherto unheard of against the price rise were devised by the political parties to draw the public attention and to some extent to exploit the situation to their political advantage. Garlanding a gas cylinder, dragging a petrol-less car through a bullock-cart, conducting political bands during which the shops remain closed, were some of the methods of agitation adopted against the price hike.
But the ultimate casualty was the peaceful life of the common man. On the one hand the price rise of petrol and its allied products, made them dearer to the common man, making a heavy toll on his monthly budget. On the other hand it triggered a series of indirect impact on his day to day life. A few days ago the All India Lorry Owners Associations had launched a country wide agitation protesting against the price hike of diesel, totally paralyzing the movement of essential commodities. It is alleged that the country wide lorry strike caused an estimated loss of Rs 5,000 crores to the exchequer.
Retaliating against the price hike, the Lorry Owners had also hiked the freight charges heavily, which in turn hiked the price of pulses, edible oils and vegetables.
The inflation rate in India has been steadily on the rise in India and it soared from 7.43 % to 11.53 % within weeks and the rise in inflation to all time high in a period of thirteen years has been mainly ascribed to the indirect impact caused by the hike of petroleum and its allied products.
The Indian Finance Minister and the Reserve Bank of India had taken belated steps and in fact they have been making frantic attempts to reduce the inflation rate and check the rising price under control. The Government has decided and accordingly ordered the sale of edible oils only through fair price shops. The Reserve Bank of India has raised the Cash Reserve Ratio and also has taken a few other steps.
Unless some drastic steps are taken at the international level to check the rampant rise in oil prices, the common man in India does not seem to have any solution to relieve him from his owes.
1. The Hindu (daily)
2. The Deccan Chronicle (daily)