People bearing double brunt of unemployment, price rise: Jairam Ramesh

Weak monsoon, drought, and low yield are contributing to inflation. Will the upcoming by-polls have any effect on government policies?

Congress MP and general-secretary Jairam Ramesh (file photo)
Congress MP and general-secretary Jairam Ramesh (file photo)

NH Digital

Congress MP and general-secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh on Saturday called out the Narendra Modi government, claiming that it is nonchalant and not concerned about the issues of unemployment and price rise.

In a post on X, Ramesh shared a media report on the increased food prices and said people are bearing the double brunt of rising unemployment and price rise. Curbs on food exports and reducing tariffs on imports have had little effect.

The increase in the prices of kitchen essentials such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, vegetables and pulses are witnessing a record increase, he claimed in his post in Hindi.

"But the one-third prime minister is completely nonchalant and unconcerned," said the Congress MP, claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi never talks about inflation. 

Food price rise stood at 8.7 per cent, with urban households facing a sharper 8.83 per cent spike in food inflation. Barring spices, where the inflation rate cooled to 4.3 per cent, the lowest level in at least two years, price pressures persisted for most food items.

Vegetable prices rose 27.3 per cent in May, while the inflation rate accelerated for cereals (8.7 per cent), eggs (7.6 per cent), fruits (6.7 per cent) as well as pulses. With prices rising 17.14 per cent in May, pulses have now completed a year of over 10 per cent inflation.

"Amid rising unemployment, people are being hit doubly by high inflation. For how long will the public bear the brunt?" Ramesh said. 

While retail inflation has now been below 6 per cent since September 2023, it is still far from the Reserve Bank of India's 4 per cent target. The RBI expects retail inflation to average 4.5 per cent this year and has projected an average of 4.9 per cent for the April-June quarter. With April and May inflation coming in slightly below that, the price rise may likely resurge to over 5 per cent this month.

Reasons for Inflation:

  • The increased price of staple food products has coincided with a brutal heatwave, low water resources, and an alarming number of government plans of deforestation.

  • A drought last year and an ongoing heat wave have significantly reduced the supplies of foods like pulses, vegetables, and cereals.

  • Curbs on food exports and reducing tariffs on imports have had little effect.

  •  Weakened monsoon has delayed the planting of summer-sown crops, which can only proceed at full pace with sufficient rainfall.

State by-elections are approaching in Maharashtra and Haryana, where a significant farmer population will decide the outcome. The Central government has been trying to win back farmers' support and may allow prices of some crops to rise instead of taking aggressive measures before the elections, which are due in October.

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