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The Financial Express

The consequences of inaction


People waiting in queues to buy daily commodities at a TCB sales point near the National Press Club in the city — FE file photo People waiting in queues to buy daily commodities at a TCB sales point near the National Press Club in the city — FE file photo

A government's role of oologist [a collector of birds' eggs] has to be driven by anima. Introspection has to transcend traditional naval gazing with greater focus on juggling many apparent imponderables at a time. Part of the problem is our own creation and it doesn't help that such times are dictated to by quirks of nature. Adversity brings with it opportunities of meaningful change provided there has been due diligence. That that appears to have fallen through not cracks but the crevasse is painfully unravelling. Electorates throughout the world have now seen through the hollowness of commitments made by leaders of grandiose portraits of success.

As the flow of state funded sops begin to run dry braver governments are releasing signs of retreating from directive paths to letting the muddle sort itself out. Individual country solutions were bound to falter in an integrated globe. From the highways of Canada to the streets of France outrage is being exhibited at the control that was being imposed on personal rights and freedom. In the last century, especially during conflict some of such restrictions were acceptable. The opposite of free-market economy is an unwritten law of new-found liberation. Once more the identity clash between government as a facilitator versus regulator has come under the microscope.

Burgeoning government at tax-payer's expense is no longer a shrug of the shoulder for the average citizen that finds itself earning less but having to spend more just to survive. As is won't with natural flow, the penchant grows for corners to be cut including seeking taxation loopholes. Revenue authorities are bending backwards to recover outstanding dues. The media is making a meal of it. What is being ignored is that in the meantime collections will have to be made from what is available. Roughly translated that means squeeze more out of those that are compliant.

For developing economies tax holidays, whitening black money and continuous buckling down to demands for tax reductions had to come back and bite hard at some stage. Isolation, forced by illness, directives or choice has exposed the fragility of free movement of labour on one hand and reluctance of certain populations towards dirtying hands. Earth's bounties continue to sustain human lives with minimum intervention. It's when unsustainable practices are forced on nature, when basic biology and zoology is interfered with that it revolts. For all that science has promised, basics haven't changed.

Lack of foresight and planning to face the aftermath of a phenomenon that has stripped pretence bare, has left leaders and thinkers tearing their hair. Our food minister admits defeat to his policies and politics as he stares at unprecedented prices despite adequate food stocks. The agriculture minister makes a mockery of it by suggesting grain consumption has gone up. And the planning minister's frustration funds resonance with the general public in the condescension that government's plans to keep prices at tolerable levels have failed.

The middle-man shenanigans, rising extortion and continuing corruption siphoning money out of the official to the unofficial economy have been wilfully ignored. The monsters created thereby are now ruling the roost. Food minister Sadhan Chandra had warned of raids on the mushrooming rice mills that have bought grain cheaply and stocked for absurd profiteering. They weren't forthcoming. Substituting realistic shortfalls of agricultural produce by imports has raised the bill but failed to control prices. Internationally there are shortages and price-hikes impacting consumers globally. Traditional conflict zone deprivation is getting worse, starvation risks loom and none of this figures in any form of righteous indignation.

Food banks no longer feature as a hot topic. Those that could spare stocks are themselves hard pressed. Fair price sales, inadequate in the best of time have become terrible tragi-comedies. The lines grow longer as more and more swallow their pride and join. That is for those that still have something to go by. There are no visible plans for the numbers pushed out of the middle-class into the darkness of unemployment. For now they're falling back on family and friends. The day after tomorrow the story may be a different account.

 

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