2018 marks four years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the 72nd anniversary of Indian Independence. On September 6, an unfortunate coincidence came into play when the age of independent India and the value of the rupee against the dollar were an exact match at 72. The depreciating value of the Indian currency, which was 72.12 against the dollar when this piece was being written, may have triggered a frenzy in the market making everyday commodities a little more expensive, but the head of state has an entirely different story for the masses.
Although Narendra Modi, his Cabinet, his party and the entire battalion have been voracious champions of a progressive India, somehow their counterproductive policies leave a disturbing picture. For instance, in his latest speech, PM Modi said, “Indeed, India is on the move. Our economy is on the move. We are the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Our cities and towns are on the move. We are building 100 smart cities. Our infrastructure is on the move.”
For the BJP spearhead, the grass is all lush and green but under a lens, admittedly, the country has come to a standstill lately. The free-falling rupee has hit an all-time low and refuses to slow down anytime soon. Consequently, it has significantly decreased the prices of Indian exports and increased the value of imports.
Take the case of petrol and diesel, the commodities setting all our collective wallets afire, India imports around 80 per cent of its fuel and it is coming at a heavy price these days. A barrel of crude oil saw a rise of $7 coming to a final cost of $75 and add the exchange rate of Rs 72.12 against the dollar, and it is enough to give sleepless nights to the consumer.
On Friday, a litre of petrol was being sold at Rs 80 in capital Delhi while Mumbai was facing the maximum brunt with petrol at Rs 87.39. When we take history into account, the Indian economy saw its toughest phases during the global meltdown of 2008. There were a global economic crisis but the Indian government managed with the damage control and only gave away 5 units on its currency’s value against the dollar from Rs 45.6 in 2007 to Rs 50.3 in 2010.
When UPA 2 handed over the baton to the NDA, the value of the rupee stood at Rs 58.9 to a US dollar. However, the BJP leaders kept banging the drums of how the Indian economy was in decline and in ‘desperate’ need of revival and how they will drag it from the gallows and bring it to a new dawn.
Now, in the 4 years of the BJP-led NDA government, the value of the rupee against the dollar has touched the unprecedented 72-mark and the consumer is paying astronomical prices for fuel and other commodities.
Delhi recently saw a Left-led rally where some lakhs of industrial workers, farmers and students took out protests against the price hikes. The Congress is due to hold a Bharat Bandh on price rise on September 10.
In cricket-crazy India, one of the most shared jokes on social media is what will hit 100 first, the price of petrol in Delhi or the value of the Indian rupee against the dollar. Because even with Digital India, good old analogue price rise can choke governments.