Festive sight, but prices bite

“The biggest challenge we face, with the increasing prices is to provide enough to eat three square meals a day with a balance in the nutrients,” says Mary, 46, a domestic worker and a single mother, who lives in Nakalu Bande in Jaynagar 3rd Block.  

Price of petrol, which was Rs 46 in mid 2009, is now nearing Rs 75; 10 grams of gold cost approximately Rs 16000 in September 2009 and is at Rs 26,000 now. The price of milk has nearly doubled from Rs 12 for one litre (double-toned milk), in 2007, to the current price of Rs 21.

She says that over the last two years, they have been buying lesser amounts of vegetables and pulses as her wages have not increased proportionately with the rising inflation of food commodities. “Since we do physical labour, and since we do not get enough nutrition, we fall sick and miss work, thus, earning less. It is a vicious circle,” she says.

Festivities for Mary and her family are limited to buying a pair of clothes and cooking biryani. “We make biryani only once a year,” says Mary. Her two sons, Jayaseelan 21, and Jagannathan, 17, work, as billing assistant at a hospital and helper at a binding shop respectively and the three collectively earn about Rs 7,000 per month to run the household.

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Festival spending, for many people, has been affected due to the increase in costs of commodities like flowers, sweets, gold and clothes. Jasmine now costs up to Rs 40 for a mola. The same would have cost between Rs 20-25 same time last year, says Sadiq, 40, a flower vendor in Jayanagar 9th Block. The normal price is about  Rs 10. Prices of other products too have increased steeply over the last two years.

Price of petrol, which was Rs 46 in mid 2009, is now nearing Rs 75; 10 grams of gold cost approximately Rs 16000 in September 2009 and is at Rs 26,000 now. The price of milk has nearly doubled from Rs 12 for one litre (double-toned milk), in 2007, to the current price of Rs 21. There has been a steep increase in price of pulses, vegetables, LPG, clothes, and nearly every commodity and service. The inflation has been attributed to various factors like poor harvest, increase in petrol and diesel prices that fuelled a price hike of raw materials.

For Ganesh Prabhudev, 30, a resident of BTM Layout, the price rise has almost doubled monthly expenditures to Rs 20,000. He earns Rs 20,000 from his job as an executive in an IT start-up. He lives with his parents and wife and gets an extra Rs 10,000 from renting out a house.

Prabhudev says that they bear the extra cost and don’t see change in lifestyle as an alternative. When it comes to festivals, he says, “They come once a year. We cannot cut down on celebrating it just because prices have increased. We spend Rs 4,000 to 5,000 during festivals like Dasara."

Mary – “Two years ago, I could run the house with Rs 2500. Now I need at least Rs 5,000. Costs have gone up but our wages have not increased proportionately.”

Those who live in a rented house, have to loosen their purse strings much more.  K V Nagaraj, 56, a retired insurance agent works as an actor in television serials and lives in 2nd stage, BTM Layout with his wife, a home maker. He has a monthly income of Rs 20,000. “I used to pay Rs 6,000 as rent two years ago. Now I pay Rs 10,000. Half my income goes there and doesn’t leave for much else.”

Archana Kumar, 38, who works in a day care, was formerly a resident of Koramangla. She shifted to JP Nagar since she found rentals there less expensive. “In Koramangala we paid Rs 7000 for a one BHK house, in JP Nagar we are paying Rs 12,000 for a three BHK,” she says.

Even people with higher incomes are feeling the pinch. Hrishikesh Kulkarni and his wife Poonam, both 36, work in an IT and telecom company respectively. They have a five-year-old daughter and have been living at L&T South City in JP Nagar since 2003. They spend close to Rs 30,000 on household expenditures. “My office is in Ulsoor and I end up spending Rs 10,000 in a month on petrol alone. We have cut down on going out to expensive places,” says Kulkarni.

In the last three years we have not bought any gold. Two years ago, for Rs 3,000 you could get enough flowers to decorate the house, which now costs more than Rs 10,000.

Kulkarni says that savings and investments have taken a hit but it is not limited to just monetary investments. “Investment in oneself has been affected.” He says that earlier, you could try out several activities, like learning tennis, art, music, or dance but now you don’t have the option of experimenting. “Now you have to pick one and stick with it,” he says.

Murali Devaram, 35, a resident of Haralur, off Sarjapur Road lives in a joint family of eight. He is in the family business of civil contracting. “In the last three years we have not bought any gold. Two years ago, for Rs 3,000 you could get enough flowers to decorate the house, which now costs more than Rs 10,000. While we used to give one kilo of sweets as gifts during festivals, we make do with giving quarter-kilo of sweets as gifts to guests,” he says.

Lifelong investments like the cost of education too, have been on the rise. Hrishikesh Kulkarni shells out Rs55,000 for his daughter’s Upper Kindergarten education at a private school in JP Nagar, an amount that has nearly doubled in two years. “We shudder when we think what the education costs will rise up to, as she grows up,” says Kulkarni.

On the other side of the economic divide, Jayaseelan, unable to afford fees for a regular course in B.Com, began working as a billing assistant in a hospital. He enrolled for an evening college two years ago and is now in his final year. “I was able to complete PUC but the fees were hiked when I was about to start degree.”

About Yogaraj S Mudalgi 88 Articles
Yogaraj Mudalgi works in the educational training industry and takes an interest in all things happening in Bangalore.

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