13 May, 2021

Silence Is Audible

Despite the pain, why is people’s protest so muted and netagiri so low-key on price rise?

Jitender Gupta
Silence Is Audible

Up, up, away and through the roof. In the old days, the Indian citizen would have hit the streets in protest against galloping food prices. Right up to the turn of the century, there were successful movements for bringing down prices, both among farmers and the middle classes. In the ’60s, Bombay housewives came out onto the streets banging their utensils against price rise; a decade earlier, Calcuttans successfully protested against a one-paisa increase in tram fares. The trams are still there but the Communists and trade unionists who led great hartals on economic issues are in danger of being phased out. And in this century we don’t have farmer protests but farmer suicides. D. Raja, the CPI leader who was recently described as the “poorest member” of the Rajya Sabha with zero assets, admits “there is a problem in getting people out on bread-and-butter issues as the middle class that once led the protests no longer does so”.

Today, opposition politicians announce bandhs and strikes against price...

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