“God only knows how we will manage this level of price rise,” said Indrani Majumder, the sole earner in a family of four in the eastern city of Kolkata, adding that the past two years of the pandemic had halved salaries.
These days, her family eats more boiled food to save on the cost of edible oil, she said. It is just one of almost a dozen homes where people said they were taking similar steps.
India’s economy expanded at a pace slower than expected in the quarter from October to December, and economists forecast a further dent to growth in the current one, as high fuel prices increase inflation.
Private consumption contributes the largest share of gross domestic output, at nearly 60 percent.
But since the invasion late in February, which Russia calls a “special operation”, Indian firms have raised prices of milk, instant noodles, chicken, and other key items from about five percent to 20 percent.
About 800 million of a population of nearly 1.4 billion received free government supplies of staple foods during the pandemic, and even small price rises now can mean a knock for their budgets.
Families’ finances could stay anaemic for the third year in a row, warned Pronab Sen, formerly India’s chief statistician.
“The process of rebuilding savings was only beginning post the pandemic,” he added. “Because of this latest shock, they will have to cut back on consumption.”