AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN
AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN

New Delhi: Dal or pulses, the staple diet for the poor, will become costlier August onwards because of the Modi government’s tit for tat tariff duties on US imports. So, essentially the poor will have to pay for the Modi government’s pig-headed resolve to show President Donald Trump his place for hiking import duty on Indian steel and aluminium.

India has listed 29 US items, including pulses, on which it intends to raise the customs duty with effect from August 4. Result: imported pulses will become 50 to 60% costlier; though imports meet a fraction of the domestic demand, the locally grown pulses will nonetheless be caught in the price spiral. Government officials said the duty hike on pulses was necessary because of a bumper crop of lentils in the US that is grown specifically for the Indian market. They said the higher duty will protect the Indian markets from oversupply and a price pushdown since the Indian farmers too have a reasonably good crop this time.

So, the farmers will be happy — though the return will be nowhere near the remunerative prices the government has been promising — while the consumer will have to pay more. The poor are the biggest consumer of pulses as they can’t afford anything else for their daily intake. As a Congress leader sarcastically said, the poor have to bear in national interest the burden of the trade war.

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