Rising prices: family budgets go haywire as women rue life turning a nightmare

Published - May 12, 2022 10:40 pm IST - KOCHI

The soaring prices of essential commodities, including that of domestic cooking gas that breached ₹1,000 earlier this month, have left family budgets in tatters, turning life into a living hell, is what an array of women drawn from the lower middle class lamented in unison.

Given a chance, all of then would have returned to hearth kitchen considering the increasingly unaffordable cooking gas and bemoaned how even basic households no longer have provision for it.

“The Central government seems to have little sympathy for the poor, or else why would they put us through further misery by making cooking gas so expensive and unaffordable when we were already suffering under job loss and fall in income owing to the pandemic. Already leading a minimalist life, there is nothing much we could give up to tilt the skewed family budget,” said 54-year-old Prameela Vikraman, a social worker and district committee member of Karshaka Thozhilali Union.

Jancy Joshy, a 47-year-old housemaid from Koyithara colony in the city, is struggling hard to run her family and repay the ₹6 lakh bank loan she had taken for building a small house. “One can live with whatever little income provided there are no other liabilities. But even the poor run up liabilities for acquiring what little possessions they have or to marry off a daughter. So, when the cost of life increases with no corresponding increase in income, many families are pushed to the brink of suicide. That is why people like us take part in protests against the unfair policies of the government even at the cost of our meagre daily wages,” she fumed.

Women engaged in casual daily labour cannot afford to demand a wage hike, as they risk losing even that poorly paid job. Thus families are even reworking their food menu doing away with ‘luxuries’ like meat and fish and giving up their little happiness like buying a new dress, Ms. Joshy said.

Returning from a protest against the surging cooking gas price, Mary Agnes, a 72-year-old former people’s representative from Kadamakkudy panchayat, said that as family budget doubled, families are being forced into reducing expenses towards consumption and other requirements by half. “Kerosene is no longer available and resorting to electricity-based cooking appliances leads to huge power bills leaving us between a rock and a hard place. With disposable income remaining static and expenses increasing all the while, women are left with an impossible task of managing family budgets,” she said.

Usha Lenin, a 43-year-old house maid from Chilavannoor, said that left with no other alternative, her family has cut even the bare consumables and monthly provisions to meet both ends meet. “Women from poor households are the worst affected, and no one seems to care,” she lamented.

For Sindhu Joseph, a 42-year-old ASHA worker from Panampilly Nagar in the city, every day is a struggle having to take care of her sick husband and run the family. “Setting apart over ₹1,000 from my meagre income for a cooking gas cylinder is way too much,” she rued.

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