Mehangai: The real picture

By MK Gupta

Mehangai is the hottest issue of the present day. Is it real or just a stick to beat any government?

Everyone is commenting on mehangai day in & day out. “Bharat Bandh” and morchas are being organised all over India, causing loss of thousands of crores and suffering for lakhs of citizens. The present government is being blackmailed and vested interests are demanding their pound of flesh and fishing in troubled waters.

The writer has compiled some figures over a period of last 50 years just to see and evaluate the real picture of so called Mehangai. The data reveals some very interesting figures. I have classified the data in to three distinct categories, just to give an idea about (i) the increase in the rates of some common daily use items, (ii) increase in the earning power of different segments of society and appreciation in the value of assets as a feel good factor. The comparisons have been done for 50 years i.e. from 1962 to 2012. Here we go.

Expenses or expensive? 

Item (Unit)

1962 (Rs.)

2012 (Rs.)

Increase in no. of times

Increase in commodity rates

1 newspaper                 




14.2 kg LPG cylinder




1 kg wheat




1 kg desi ghee




1 ltr petrol




1 kg potato




1 kg onion




Increase in earnings levels

Mason (daily)




Bank clerk (per month)




Grad. Engineer (per month)




Increase in the value of assets

10 gm gold




1 kg silver




Land G.K.1 (1 Sq. Yd)


5.5 lakh


Figures are here to see. The earnings and asset value have outpaced the increase in prices. Price of LPG, on which such a furore is being made, is the least increased item.

Some more facts

Items like a car, scooter, telephone, TV, fridge and an air conditioner were rare and very expensive. Nowadays, almost everyone have these items. For a telephone under OYT (own your telephone) scheme, one had to deposit Rs. 3,000 in 1965, which was equivalent to 200 gm of gold. Now a phone is for asking.

Income Tax started from an annual income of Rs. 2,500 @ 12%. Highest slab was at 90%. Now, it starts at Rs. 1.90 lakh. Maximum rate is 30%. So where is the “Mehangai”? Everyone seems to be having a car, two-wheeler, mobile, fridge, etc. (Except the below poverty line.)             

My family shifted to GK 1 (Greater Kailash-I in South Delhi) in 1962. Till 1982, very few cars were there. Now each household has 2-5 cars. Foreign travel is almost like going to a local tourist spot. There are hundreds of other examples, which talk of affluence.

So let us be realistic and appreciate the progress made by our country. There is no doubt that had our politicians & bureaucrats been honest, our country may have been on top of the world.

The writer is a senior citizen, having no political affiliations. He is a social activist & a part time journalist. He may be reached at

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