by Sumaa Tekur
Inflation has far-reaching consequences on the economy. In South India, it recently reached the barbershops of the sleepy village of Amingad, in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka state. Unable to make ends meet with the modest service rate of Rs 12 for a haircut (charged by all 10 barbershops in this village), the barbers’ community unanimously decided to hike their rates by 25%.
So when a young girl clutching Rs 12 turned up at one of the salons in this village seeking a trim, she was shooed away and asked to bring Rs 15. Angered by this sudden decision to increase prices, the villagers (predominantly weavers and farmers) protested. But this did not cut any ice with the barbers, who simply closed shop. The scissors-down strike went on for more than five days, with absolutely no activity at the barbershops of Amingad (Times of India, 14 March 2011).
Not ones to give up easily, the farmers — those in urgent need of a haircut, of course — went to the neighbouring village, Sulibhavi, which is 2 km away. But, in a demonstration of solidarity with the strikers, the barbers there refused service to Amingad’s villagers.
This story of inflation turning a hair-razing story into a hair-raising news report is an exception. This week, the rate of wholesale price inflation has touched 8.31%, and every household in India has a story to tell on how they have shrunk their budgets to bare essentials and tightened their belts to make ends meet.