<p>Kashmiris are a victim lot. For decades people have been suffering myriad exploitations and excesses. From a host of conflict, Kashmiri consumers also suffer the inert administration that does not seem willing to end exploitation by profiteers. The pro
Post by on Saturday, May 9, 2020
Kashmiris are a victim lot. For decades people have been suffering myriad exploitations and excesses. From a host of conflict, Kashmiri consumers also suffer the inert administration that does not seem willing to end exploitation by profiteers. The profiteering and unaccountable trading reaches peak generally in winters. The administrators churn out statistics about how many shopkeepers were ‘punished’ and how much money was collected. It was long since the Food and Supplies department was rechristened as Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution. Name was changed, but, sadly, the associated operations regarding price control have not changed; the department’s price control operations are still largely focused on chicken and mutton. Here too the authorities have been facing incompliance by mutton and chicken sellers. Whether the official policy to remain rigid is debatable, the government’s wilful silence over the large-scale profiteering in the business merits serious attention. As per reports, J&K is the only place that has literally no policy about regulating the prices of non-food commodities. Dealers indulge in arbitrary pricing by pasting tags over such commodities. The authorities are alive to the issue yet they don’t seem willing to rectify the malaise. This deliberate inertia of the concerned authorities breeds unaccountability within most of the traders who generally indulge in malpractice. The government should work out a long-term and a short-term plan to ensure consumer rights. As a short and medium term measure, a joint control room comprising officials from departments of food, tax, municipal corporation and police. As for the long-term measure, the authorities could later extend the same system to the district levels. The officials, who seem bothered about fat incentives alone, should shun the habit of forming so called ‘task forces’ to tackle a crisis which otherwise is the cause of inertia not the shortage of manpower. At a time when the people of Kashmir are intrigued by a huge burden of tragedy coupled with a back-breaking inflation, especially in food prices, the authorities should not remain slack about the pressing issue of unaccountable and irresponsible trading.