Bangalore: Diwali lights will shine less bright this year for many families in the city, as the price rise across the board begins to pinch family budgets. While rising onion prices grab headlines, the cost of most items of daily usage have quietly continued their march north. Vegetables, milk, fish, lean proteins and even crackers have gone up.
Bangaloreans are responding not by cutting down on the food bill but mainly by downsizing their discretionary spends: festive splurges like Diwali, partying, eating out and holidays.
For Pooja Patra, the priority is to stock up on fish, meat, onions and veggies for a couple of weeks. “My four-month-old son is my only priority. I can cut down on onions and tomatoes but not on milk. My husband has even instructed me not to invite guests or arrange parties this year to reduce unnecessary spending,” she told TOI. Her husband Mayukh said their 2011 Diwali budget was around Rs 10,000, but this year, “It is nil. We planned a trip to Goa but that stands cancelled due to the price rise.” They live in Sultanpalya.
Similarly, Rekha Ganesh, a librarian and resident of RMV, said her family cancelled their Dharmasthala trip during Diwali due to bad weather and the price rise.
For joint families, shooting inflation is worse as it hits traditions that have been maintained for years. Raghunath Rao, a retired Air Force man, lives with two of his daughters and their families.
“My grandchildren have already started asking me about the crackers I’m going to buy for them, about the lighting we’ll ornament the house with. I have no answers . My sons-in-law are indicating that we play it down this year because they can’t organize any lavish party,” says the septuagenarian with a heavy heart. He criticized the government vehemently for the price rise which is forcing families to cut down on spending even on traditional, religious events.
Bachelors, however, have a different take. Bursting cracker during Diwali is non-negotiable . “My friends and I pool in money to buy crackers, meat and sweets. We may have to pay Rs 1,500-2 ,000 per head,” says Jitender Yadav, a techie living in Koramangala.
A SECOND CROP
Onion prices in Karnataka are still high because we don’t grow a second crop, as in Maharashtra. Our single kharif crop has high moisture content and a shorter shelf life. Keeping this in view, we’re planning to have a second crop in the upcoming rabi season, after consulting the Centre, to meet the demand. Also, as there’s no restriction on inter-state movement, Karnataka’s farmers are selling their crop outside the state for a better price. This has caused shortage in the local market. But when you compare with New Delhi, Karnataka stands better in terms of onion prices as the best variety of onion is still available at Rs 50-60 a kg.