Thursday, February 24, 2011

Soaring Food Prices in India Lead to Protests

AP / Mustafa Quraishi
Activist Post

Food inflation continues unabated in India.  Since 2009, the price of milk, wheat, rice, pulses, and potatoes -- staple food items -- have risen by double digit percentages, putting the average urban household living on $4,000 per year under further strain.

The latest spike in food shows lentils, rice and vegetables surging 11.49% year over year for the week of Feb. 12, according to the agricultural index, putting pressure on India's government ahead of budget meetings scheduled for the coming week.

A new round of protests has been organized by the All India Trade Union Congress and the Centre for Industrial Trade Union. The rampant food inflation is made doubly painful because of growing unemployment.

The triple threat that India is experiencing of rising food prices, low wages -- particularly among the rural population -- and job insecurity is compounded by food shortages due to repeated cycles of drought and flooding.

Unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa continues to drive fuel prices higher, leading to an increasing rate of oil inflation.  As we saw in 2008 when oil prices spiked to nearly $150/bbl, food price inflation immediately followed.

How much longer before the same perfect storm of food, fuel, inflation, and lack of employment turns the streets of America into those of Delhi? Record numbers of Americans are already on food assistance, while food prices continue to skyrocket, and U.S. lawmakers seek to cut food stamp benefits.

Additionally, as the mainstream media continues to propagate an economic recovery in America, unemployment and the standard of living continues to strain American families.  It's almost as if someone wants to provoke more food riots across the world.

Sources for this article:

7 Reasons Food Shortages Will Become a Global Crisis
5 Easy Ways to Prepare for Food Inflation

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jack said...

Well..Im from India..its carnage here if you don't have good job and high income..almost every week...the price rises by a percent or two...

Its just a matter of time...when folks won't take it anymore and choas begins....we are on edge here..

If the oil price rise with would be end of days here...its very expensive for nearly 90% of population of 1 billion to survive

Activist said...

Thank you very much for your comments, Jack. We would love to hear more from you, since you have a first-hand account. We welcome you to submit an article about how you see food prices in India and what it might lead to. Please submit directly to We will work with you to develop this article if you would like. -- Michael Edwards, co-editor, Activist Post

Anonymous said...

I'm not from India, but I've been living here for over a year now. It's actually kind of disturbing watching basic prices go up. Subway and McDonald's have raised their prices three times since I got here. I don't notice the prices of normal food stuff going up but that's mostly because the driver does the shopping.

One thing to add in to the price rise equation is the price of housing. This seems to rise faster than the price of food. An apartment in one of the major cities is easily comparable to New York or London, and rising faster. Even a minor city is expensive. I have a three bedroom place in a minor city at $1500 a month. Given it's condition, very good for India but far below standard in the West, it might be something like $1800 in a place like Boston.

As jack said, if you have a good, read Western level or above, income you're ok. If you're a normal employee, you're screwed. The discrepancy between rich and poor isn't as high as it is in America, but it's much more noticeable because of the poverty of the average person. When a big BMW flies past a guy with a camel drawn cart, honking for the cart to get out of the way, it has to cause more resentment than the same car quietly passing a Honda in the US.

That said, India has a few things going for it. First and foremost, the private gold holdings here could equal the rest of the world combined. Most of it is in the hands of the rich, with only a small fraction of it on the books. Investment and growth at least equal the true rate of inflation here, and can continue at that pace even during a global currency crisis because all the business families I know of hold much of their wealth in real assets.

pradip gharpure said...

Higher and rising prices of milk every quarter, rising sugar and rice prices, even sky rocketing price rise of onions, is shameful for the Government. The present Agricultural Minister is main culprit. He is sponsoring price rises by declaring or indicating price rise in advance and it is followed immediately. Finance MInister is also for Big business houses. For want of strong opposition all these things are tolerated by people. But i feel they will teach lesson to congress and National congress ,in particular, in coming elections.
Lot of public money is wasted in packages for agriculture, free water, electricity, inputs, and no tax for agricultural sectors. They are really looting indian economy.

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