Advertisements often reveal a more realistic picture of a country situation than the statistics churned out by a government source that has lost its independent ability to produce the actual existing data. We hear over the radio advertisements urging people to purchase more, to obtain credit cards for easy payment, to make use of instalment schemes where the first premium is very low and making tantalizing offers of money for specific purchases. These advertisements cover the whole gamut of trading activities in the country ranging from supermarkets to companies that sell household goods to even the banks who vie with each other in the facilities they offer to entice new customers. The proverbial carrot is dangled so as to make the purchasers and entice new purchasers to believe that though they spend, they will also obtain some return perhaps milli- milli millions! or maybe a car, a trip abroad or whatever.
These advertisements however appear to be geared for those who have, to have just a little more and so make the festive season a bit more enjoyable, but for the fixed wage earner, both in the public and private sector , the vegetable farmer who toils day long on his fields and gets a meagre return for his harvest, those students who sat for the University Entrance Examinations but did not get admission and are now looking out for suitable jobs in an ever shrinking job market , the school drop outs and numerous others who have been relocated due to infrastructure development, in fact more than 40 per cent of the population are unable to have a proper meal due to the escalating cost of food prices, and this is yet December, come January when various other indirect taxes will operate on consumer goods.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country at present is US$ 60 billion. As the population of the country is 20 million, the per capita income has been calculated as US$ 3000. According to this calculation a family of four should get an income of US$ 1000 (Rs.137,000) but surely the Central Bank and the authorities know that none of those mentioned above do get such an income monthly. In fact they can scarcely visualise getting even a fraction of that amount in their fixed income wage packet or by their work in the agricultural sector or as small scale traders. Most middle class parents would be wondering not how they could give their children the goodies displayed or advertised for the festive season but how they can find the monies for the children to buy the stationery needs to send their children to school, and the various other requirements such as shoes etc. which are in the range of thousand rupees or more, uniforms and the arrangements necessary to transport them to schools. Now that numerous primary rural schools have been closed due to, according to the Educational authorities, lack of students, rather than the reality which is lack of facilities and proper teachers, parents have to make safe transport arrangements for the children. With so many problems weighing heavy on their minds it is no wonder that this cannot be regarded as a festive season for them.
True, enough the GDP may have increased to US$ 60 billion showing a per capita income of US$ 3000. But this cannot be accepted as realistic by Parliamentarians if they are in their electorates and walk among the people. They would then realise the huge gap that exists between those who have and those who do not have. The authorities surely know that the official poverty line of Rs. 3000 a month is grossly inadequate to meet even the basic food requirements of an individual as the state continues imposing all manner of indirect taxes which reduce the purchasing power of the income of the marginalised workers and fixed income workers. This situation will worsen when the government imposes a tax on traders who will naturally increase the prices of their consumer goods.
Santa will surely turn a blind eye on the problems faced by the have-nots since the politicians believe that the people are supremely happy within the fixed or flexible incomes they receive, even though food costs escalate further with green gram costing Rs. 290 a kilo and the tomato farmer obtaining only Rs. 20 to 30 per kilo. The people’s representatives occupy the seats of power and remember the citizens only when an election is around and then they advertise their largesse and promise in their manifestos all manner of goodies which they forget as soon as they win. They then enter the elite group of the haves in the dismal and unequal economic disparity that prevails within the country.