This might come as a shock to The Hindu, The Troll, The Wire and The Huffington Post. Not to mention a shock to Newslaundry. The best journalists in the world don’t come out of Doon school and St. Stephens College and JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia. To say nothing of Columbia University school of Journalism.
Here is the world’s best journalist:
It’s called money.
Suppose that you want to know how India’s rice farmers are doing right now. Suppose you want to know how the laborers who sowed the rice, the laborers who harvested the crop, the farmers who sold the crop, the traders who bought the crop and the truckers who transported the crop and finally the grocers who put the rice on market shelves are doing.
You have two choices. You could go to a “journalist” who will pick one person from each category and ask the question that is the hallmark of airhead reporting today: “Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?”. But keep in mind that this journalist could have an agenda. He or she could have been an Agustapatrakar. Even a Radia stenographer perhaps. Or maybe a Bhakt?
But there is a second, much better choice. You could simply go check the price.
The price is one single magical number that captures the situation of every single person in the supply chain. The best thing about prices is that they don’t have an agenda. The price does not have a political affiliation. The price doesn’t care if you are a Modi supporter or a Rahul Gandhi supporter. The price doesn’t care if you are an illiterate person or you have an arts degree from JNU.
Since Nov 8, we have all read fantastic stories of how all the agricultural Mandis are empty, of how trucks have gone off the road. We have heard about how farmers cannot harvest their crop nor sell their crop nor plant a new crop. Amazingly however, there is one stubborn fact. Prices aren’t rising!
Apparently, no trader, no hoarder has noticed yet the opportunity of a lifetime. Hardly any crop got harvested, hardly any crop got sowed and hardly any crop got transported. The farms are empty, the trucks are empty, the Mandis are empty, but the markets are full. Amazing!
In fact, is there one item that people can name that has disappeared from the shelves since Nov 8? From tomatoes to journalists to intellectuals, the markets seem well stocked with stuff for sale as usual.
Those claiming “poor implementation” of demonetization should answer the question about why there are no price shocks happening anywhere? Do they understand what it takes to keep 1200 million people supplied with milk, grain and vegetables after sucking 86% of all currency out of the system? And yet, not a single price shock.
In fact, in the initial weeks, the “poor implementation” brigade was greedily looking forward to a collapse of the supply chain. Here is the Wall Street Journal on Nov 16.
Choked since Nov 8 but still prices not rising. Will good Dr. Manmohan Singh kindly explain this? Look at this:
It’s on Nov 20 that The Indian Express confirmed the collapse of the sugar supply chain. It’s Dec 14 and still no coup in the prices of sugar. Clearly an RSS conspiracy.
Again on Nov 24, a confirmation from India Today that 70% of trucks are off the roads. As if further evidence was needed, they even have a photograph of 7 trucks parked side by side. The other 3 trucks must still be on the road. But still no price rise? Why? What is the deal, Modi ji?
Food markets frozen since Nov 18 as reported by Scroll.in, complete with a picture of a gloomy trader sitting with the last vestiges of India’s food stocks.
The prices still aren’t rising. Only intolerance is.
The closest we came to a price shock was a rumor about a shortage of salt. In a matter of a few hours, salt prices across the country went through the roof, with gullible people buying one kg of salt for as much as Rs 200 and journalists buying it for as much as Rs. 400.
That is what can happen simply from the perception of a shortage. And here we have confirmed reports from Wall Street Journal, India Today, The Indian Express and Scroll.in about a freeze in the supply chain. But the price system still shows no sign of cooperating with the intellectuals. Has the credibility of journalists become so low that people would go in a mad rush to buy salt based on Whatsapp rumors but ignore the hard hitting reporting of qualified journalists? I guess this must be the “post truth society” the liberals keep complaining about.