Fuel price hikes are inevitable. There is not much else we can do - and wasting time on bandhs is not going to solve anything either. What should you be doing? Here are 7 things including filling up your tanks and tyres in the morning!
On Wednesday, the oil marketing companies hiked petrol prices by Rs6.28 per litre, excluding local sales tax or VAT, which translates into a hike of Rs7.50 per litre in Delhi. Fuel price hikes are inevitable, given the multiple issues surrounding them, and the earlier we try to take individual as well as joint steps to address the issue - the better. Here are some suggestions:-
1) Obviously, shift to more fuel efficient motor vehicles, the smaller the better. That aside, more importantly, knowing a bit about engine technology and how to maintain them was never more useful - accessing and cleaning the air filter with a reverse flush using compressed air, for example. But then, what do you do if the manufacturer has made it close to impossible for the vehicle owner/operator to even access the air filter? There was never a better time to read the owner's manual than now.
2) Fill up the fuel and press up the air pressure in tyres as early in the morning as possible. Fuel which has cooled down in the underground tanks overnight is denser, and you simply get more bang for your buck. Air pressure checked in the morning also takes you through the hotter parts of the day with higher pressure, which slight difference can make all the difference between a car that rolls freely as against one that rolls sluggishly.
3) If you use a two-wheeler for local short distance commuting, then consider shifting to battery operated two-wheelers, and if your town/city/state does not support them by providing the kind of subsidies that are available to us in cities like Delhi. This is straight 33% subsidy by Delhi Government (existing), 20% central Government (proposed), no road tax, no registration for smaller scooters, no driving licence and most of all - no harassment. Get together and start lobbying for them in your own states. You can now even charge some of them by onboard solar cells.
4) One political formation hikes the prices, other political formation organises bandhs, and big noise is made by our elected leaders. This is nonsense, do they think we are idiots, this is an insult to our basic intelligence, who are the politicians fooling anymore, time to tell them directly to their face. Tell them to follow Gujarat: give us more renewable energy options, and tell them not to go back to their old wasteful ways - since we know that they are paid/reimbursed by litre, regardless of cost. Better to start getting organised and then letting them know that their individual future depends on how they show that they are reducing wastage of fuel on government expense.
5) Start demanding that cycle parking as well as cycle tracks is provided in your towns and cities as part of electoral promises. And that the prime parking slots in government buildings be assigned to people who come on cycles. Eventually, along with public transport, this will have to be the solution for multiple issues so the sooner we try to make life better for cyclists, the better - another electoral issue. People in Bangalore are way ahead of many others in this context already.
6) Cooking gas is a major expense head already, whether purchased legit or through the grey market, as many have to do. A viable option for fairly good savings is to use induction cookers. Without being brand specific, we have found that in our home kitchen (a) the energy cost has come down by a factor of almost 3:1 and (b) the kitchen is not such a hot and sweaty place anymore either. Plus, these electricity operated induction cookers come with timers and automatic functions, unlike cooking gas or oil, and can be pre-programmed to work without you having to be on top of them all the time.
7) Public transport is the one solution everybody talks about - but do we know how the local, state and central government's tax and make life difficult for buses, autos and taxis? The reality is hopeless - making public transport costlier flies in the face of any common sense attempt to reduce fuel expenses, but that is what is done, shamelessly, by our government bodies. Please take the trouble to find out how the system conspires against good public transport in your town by levying all sorts of tolls, taxes, permit fees, seat fees and more, in addition to all sorts of illegal pressures and problems faced - and let the elected representatives know that these shall be electoral issues in the near future.
These are just a few suggestions across a wide spectrum of choices available - but most are driven by the need to let your elected representative know that good public transport will decide his future. The example of how the Delhi Government boasts about the Delhi Metro as its major most important achievement is a good example. We have no other way to save money - and retain mobility at the same time.
Go for these and many other ideas. There is not much else we can do - and wasting time on bandhs is not going to solve anything either.
Twitter and Facebook is abuzz with several Indians expressing anger over the petrol price hike by Rs7.5 per litre. On Twitter #petrol and #Rs7.50 are trending terms
The steep hike in petrol prices has evoked mixed reactions with a section of industry saying the move would further burden the common man even as policy makers and experts felt the increase would benefit the economy in the long run. Many are expressing anger and anguish over the price hike on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Here are some of the comments...
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (CMD, Biocon Ltd)
Just when global oil prices are declining, Govt hikes petrol prices and spares Diesel - what's the logic? Is petrol a rich man's fuel? Be prepared for huge public outcry. Can't figure out what the govt is trying to do. Petrol hike is only going to inflame public sentiment and add to inflation. Looks like aam admi doesn't factor in these decisions!
Narendra Modi (Chief Minister, Gujarat)
This decision to hike #petrol prices taken a day after the ending of Parliament session is a stinging rebuke to the dignity of Parliament.
Omar Abdullah (Chief Minister, J&K)
Petrol Pump Attendant : Saab, Kitne ka daaloon? Customer : 2-4 Rupye ka car ke upar spray kar de bhai. Aag lagani hai. #petrol
Lets see for all their talk if the opposition has the balls to get the price of petrol down or we have to leave that to Anna Hazare now
#Petrol #price to go up by Rs 7.50 per litre effective midnight. Death of the petrol car is nigh.
Saala aam aadmi hai to kya aam ke jaise nichhod loge kya? #petrol
AAM Aadmi gaya bhaad mein.Everything is so costly they should change the term to Daam Aadmi
Hum car bech chuke sanam! #PetrolMovies #Petrol! :p
Volkswagen: DAS AUTO. Government: Bus, Auto. #petrol
Maa ka doodh is old thing. Father will say now," Maine teri Bike ko apna #petrol pilaaya hai"
Reaction: By giving tacit approval to sharpest ever hike in #petrol, is govt testing the patience of middle class?
Out of Rs 7.50 rupee hike, government will get Rs5 per in the form of taxes to spend on foreign travels and babus #petrol
Aditya S. Pandit
Why beer is better that #petrol? 1. It costs less ! 2. It's environment friendly !! 3. After beer, the #petrol hikes hurt less!! ..."
Dear #Petrol, Thanks to you Now we know why the Monk sold his Ferrari ;)
I wish #petrol could be deposited like money in banks, and it can be retrieved later on with interest, 5 saal mein double ho jaata. :-)
@PM0India First #petrol for Montekji,Meeraji and Pratibaji and aamaadmi are made to pay later ! What an economist PM. Congratulations!
In 80's we bought a vijai super scooter and then the #petrol was at Rs. 7.50.... today the hike is that much
#petrol hike...a side effect of the Rupee crisis in India....Shouldn't the government be treating the root rather than the symptoms??
#petrol the price rise of petrol is @25 percent, while the rise in the price of vegetables is @ 32.34 percent each year in India.. think
Most #petrol bunks closed early yesterday after the #petrolhike saying no stock, to sell at higher price. The Q now!!
Does the UPA stand for United #Petrol Alliance ?! Starting to make sense !
He Government! main aam aadmi hoon....aam nahi.. Mujhe choosna band karo! #Petrol
INDIA 2015 Sign board at #Petrol pump: Buy Petrol worth Rs. 20,000 and get a TATA nano absolutely free.
The question is if some of the money comes back what should one do with it?
The long overdue and much awaited White Paper on black money was presented by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday that has everyone wondering what this is all about. The document does not give details of the money stashed abroad, and by whom. According to this White Paper, available data indicates that Swiss banks have some Rs9,925 crore as at December 2010. This is much lower than the Rs23,373 crore estimated by end of 2006!
The point at stake here is that the government is dilly-dallying the issue. When talks of black money began decades ago, everyone was talking about illegal wealth by business tycoons, but no one was coming out with a possible and workable solution. I must admit, at this point of time too, there is no one final solution on the table, but we can make a start.
For the time being, let us not bother our heads with the volume involved. But, can we spend a little time, how we can bring it back to India?
This will take us to the issue what we can do with it? I propose one of the many possible solutions. What is India’s biggest problem? The problem actually is that we do not even have a list of problems identified as problems that need to be resolved sooner than later. So, we come back to zero, and start identifying the very areas that this black money can be well utilized.
What are the areas that need our urgent attention? First, let us start with power generation; it could be, preferably, solar related; wind power; nuclear, mining (coal) and hydro-electric. This will also cover extensive network of transmission lines.
The second area relates to geological surveys and search for oil and gas, shale gas and establishment of refineries, on and off shore.
Part of the black money can be diverted to investment in the above fields in countries outside India, such as Australia, Indonesia and Africa where some of the sourcing of supplies to India have been made by Indian companies themselves, by acquiring assets abroad. The only difference here could be that the black money remitter (BMR) be obliged to invest 60% of such available funds for investment in India itself.
Recent reports by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) indicated that hundreds of coal blocks were given away without due process of tendering. If this be so, all these should be nullified and system re-established which is above board.
The third area that we all know and have really done nothing about is the enormous waste of agricultural produce simply because of the lack of storage facilities. Foodgrain rot; while people starve; government postpones important decisions on export. BMR should be allowed for investment in building up such huge infrastructure facilities at various production points, like cold storages etc.
Indian Railways is the largest employer in the country and I believe we have hardly had any major laying of railroads in the country since we became a republic. Why not privatise this so called national enterprise and ensure the BMR is used for manufacturing all types of wagons and superfast engines? They may be also permitted to increase the laying of tracks (instead of single, double) to all the major cities and towns from points of production?
Our agriculture nation looks up the sky for the monsoon gods to smile every year in an adequate way. If the rains fail, we have a disaster in hand—from surplus to a begging bowl—when international prices will simply touch the roof! We therefore must direct BMR to dig up irrigational canals and huge water reservoirs at every large catchment area. This will also help fisheries.
Another area relating to the development of agriculture is the establishment of fertilizer units. Are the existing ones adequate to meet our needs two decades from now, and also provide our ability to export some 30% of our excess production to countries in Africa? What are we doing to export more vegetables to Europe and Asia which really subsist on potatoes during winter months?
Establishing gas pipelines from Iran and the new republics from erstwhile USSR are fine; just as much as we depend upon gas from Qatar, Oman or Saudi Arabia. We need to investigate the possibility of joint ownership in these areas too, and that we can achieve with BMR.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. However, this is a start. But, let us look at the black money holder. How do we bring this prodigal home? First and foremost, we do not go witch-hunting if they come forward and surrender by transferring the entire amount to Sovereign India Overseas Account and get a code ID. Upon doing this step, they voluntarily submit 30% of the amount as tax without any question asked. Rest can be invested in the areas identified as above within two years, extending up to a maximum of five more years for completion of the project undertaken. This will enable them to do a sensible job by getting the best supplier, contractor and equipments. After this seven year period (or 10 years if the government so desires), the profits will be subject to tax like any other citizen or company in the country.
But for a start, the finance ministry must declare an amnesty by which the black money holders, whose names are known, be told that within 60 days of the announcement, that they should voluntarily declare the actual money stashed outside the country. If they do not comply with this amnesty declaration, the finance ministry must make the list public and appoint a separate judicial system, on an ad hoc basis, to handle this issue. The finance ministry has been silent on other countries which have shown willingness to co-operate on the issue. The information obtained from them must also be made public in the above manner.
Finally, I wonder why White Paper is called as such? After all, if the intention is make the black money white, why not issue it on Black Paper and call it White Conversion?
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts. From being the advisor to exporters, he took over the mantle of a trader, travelled far and wide, and switched over to setting up garment factories and then worked in the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)