Eyes remained glued to the TV screens — first the disappointment of the Budget, then the delight of watching the century of centuries. R. Sujatha and Vasudha Venugopal report
Crowds at tea shops rejoiced and in the lobbies of corporate offices, exclamations of 'here comes the moment' filled the air. The day might have begun with television anchors breaking their heads over the proposals of Pranab Mukherjee's Budget but by late afternoon, it became clear that cricket matters more than the pinch in the wallet.
End of the day, Sachin Tendulkar making his 100th international ton was as important a news as the impact of the Budget on India Inc. But even as cricket enthusiasts came to terms with the historic moment, many families were quietly mulling over the fact that post-Budget, things are indeed going to be costlier — from the toothpaste to the Audi 6 that you admire from a distance in the showroom.
Those who had planned investments were upset. Those wishing to buy presents for their children said they would be cutting back on some essentials.
IT professional J. Srinivas and his wife Archana, who have a 14-year-old daughter, were disappointed with the Budget.
“Travelling even within India is becoming expensive. We planned to go to Kulu-Manali for the summer. This morning I checked on the internet and found out that travel alone would cost us around Rs. 55,000. Accommodation is comparatively economical, at Rs. 5,000 a day, and food will cost another Rs. 20,000. With air fares going up further, we will have to rethink about holidaying in north India,” said Archana.
Srinivas was planning to buy another car and also invest in a house. “We are from a middle-class family and we want a better life. In another two-three months, we had planned to buy a house. Now it will be more expensive. My total savings, including investments, for a year will now come down by Rs. 1.5 lakh,” he said.
Leo Fernandes, a lecturer in the University of Madras, had expected reforms that would leave some money in his pocket. “The EMI for my home loan has been steadily increasing. I started with paying Rs. 30,000 in 2009 but now I am paying Rs. 35,000. I feel the government is squeezing me like you wring a towel.”
Lower income group families are also reconsidering their purchase plans. Nagamani, a school teacher, wanted to buy a refrigerator while K.S. Ravichandran planned to buy a bicycle for his two children.
Both are now having a rethink.
Advertising professional Ravi Shankar, even though he was hanging out at the Express Avenue to watch Sachin hit the landmark century, was not unaware of the budget's implications. His financial affairs, heavily dependent on purchases via credit and debit cards, are now all set to be affected by the increase in excise and service duties. Every transaction will cost him at least two per cent more. The cost of using his iPad will increase too.
“I believe they offer good discounts on Flipkart these days,” was his response. “But yes, it will really pinch me at the end of the month, or at least when I check my account balance.”
Some however reacted with a sense of resignation. “Loan servicing, interest rates, property and fuel costs had already become expensive,” said S. Karthikeyan, employed in an automotive firm, even as he pushed a luxury car done up in blue by cricket fans to celebrate Sachin's feat.
“I was planning to buy a house but they are saying that is going to be very expensive now because the service charges have increased. So I decided to let Sachin rule today, we will see what happens tomorrow,” he added.