Burdened by sky-high prices: Now even middle class families are struggling to beat inflation


This Diwali will not be as dazzling as always for the Dhankher family residing in South Delhi, thanks to the soaring prices of almost every essential item.

Burdened by the rising inflation, the family is struggling to buy gifts for friends and relatives. They have also decided to refrain from shopping for themselves and going out.

Like thousands in the country, Ritushri Dhankher (35) and her husband Captain (retd) Manish Dhankher (35) are a victims of price rise.

The Dhankher family, who used to go out to dinner every weekend now only do so once a month

The Dhankher family, who used to go out to dinner every weekend now only do so once a month

Though both are employed in the corporate sector and are earning much more than the average income of an India household, they are finding it hard to cope with inflation. "Our total monthly income is between Rs 2-Rs 2.5 lakh.

"We have a school-going son and a daughter preparing to go to school next year. Though price rise has consistently been an issue for the past few years, in the last six months, it has become unbearable to the point that we had to cut down on several expenses at our end in order to ensure optimum utilisation of resources for our children," Ritushri, who works at a UK tourism office in the Capital, told Mail Today.

When things were better, the Dhankher family not only partied with friends once a week but also diligently went for a Friday night movie and a Saturday night family dinner.


But since the last six months, they have only been going for these outings once or sometimes twice a month. Data released by the government on Monday put the wholesale price index (WPI), India's main inflation measure, at 6.46 per cent, which is the highest since February this year.

With the inflation showing no signs of decline, the aam admi is bearing the brunt. "Around the time when the onion prices were expected to shoot up, my vegetable seller had warned me and taking his advice, I had bought 10 kg onions for the coming month.

"So when the prices went up, our family could still have onion in our dishes. But many of my friends refrained from buying onions at all," Manish, currently training head with a leading pizzeria, said.

The Dhankher family pointed out how the inflation has not only affected the food market but also impacted their lifestyle. While watching a movie cost Rs 1,000-Rs 1,200 for the family of four less than a year ago, the expense has now shot up to Rs 2,000–Rs 2,500 due to additional taxes on the tickets as well as the snacks counters.

Both Ritushri and Manish, who work in Gurgaon, have started using the Metro instead of their cars due to the ever-increasing fuel prices.

"Our children's necessities like school fees, nutritious food, tuition fees and extra-curricular activity classes are more important than our own convenience.

"My son studies in Delhi Public School in Noida and I wish to get him admitted in an international school. Though it will cost us more it will help him when he later goes abroad for higher education," he added.

It has become exceedingly difficult for the Dhankher family to maintain their standard of living with the ongoing rampage of price rise, especially because most corporate companies have not been given any increments this year.

Wooing voters gets tougher for parties now


Food inflation is likely to harm the electoral dreams of many political candidates in the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections, which many have forecast will be a close contest this time.

The final straw in this regard was the recent announcement by the hike in milk prices by Rs 2 per litre in Delhi and the National Capital Region from Tuesday.

Much like their other counterparts, Delhiites too have been reeling under the pressure of food inflation that is currently pegged at around 18 per cent. Onion prices had touched a high of `70-80 per kg in the national Capital.

"This is a strategically designed inflation… Politicians have come together to plot the fall of rupee so that when they gain when they bring their black money in the country. If the Congress is at fault, the BJP too doesn't have their hands clean," Ankon Mitra, Landscape Director of Hexagramm Design Private Ltd, said.

Similarly, this reporter found members of Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) who maintained that they were extremely annoyed by the Delhi government's way of handling the issue of inflation. A few RWAs were of the opinion that this election will be completely candidate-based because the people have lost their faith in political parties.

"Only those candidates who have done some work in their areas are likely to win. No one cares whether the party is Congress or BJP. People are extremely unhappy both with the Congress and the BJP.

"We have had several meetings for issues like water shortage, bad roads, garbage…we are sick and tired of complaining about these issues repeatedly both to the Delhi government and the BJP run municipal corporation," said Madhulika Chatterjee, a RWA resident of South Delhi.

Wastage of the taxpayer's money has also been a sore point for many residents of the capital. Projects like the Sheila Dikshit government's much vaunted Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), worth several hundreds of crores, have drawn the ire of the people.

"Be it the thousands of crores that Sheila Dikshit has spent on cleaning the Yamuna river, which is still getting dirtier than ever or the BRT…completely useless.

I am extremely unhappy by the way the Delhi government has performed during its last five year," Vikram Aditya Paul, a resident of South Delhi, said. Many cited corruption as another issue that could affect the fortunes of the ruling Congress party in the national Capital.

For a party that has been ruling Delhi for the last 15 years, large-scale irregularities like those in the 2010 Commonwealth Games may turn out to be the final nail in the coffin.

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