June 19, 2024

School Fees on the Rise

School feesThe fact that inflation has been an area of concern for some years now is well known, but exactly what goods and services have seen prices rise most sharply? School fees, a CSO study shows, have seen the most dramatic spike over the tenure of the UPA, up 433% between March 2004 and March 2013.

The chart topper is quite ironic given the much-talked about Right to Education law enacted by the UPA. The CSO study tracks rural retail prices and shows that school fees were Rs 48.7 per student on average in March 2004 and had risen to Rs 259.6 by March 2013.

Mango prices recorded the second highest rise, up 320% from about Rs 16 per kg to just over Rs 67 per kg on average over this nine-year period. Oranges (275%), black pepper (232%), beef (229%), and buffalo meat (228%) were the others at the top of the list.

Among more widely consumed items, mutton (210%), salt (182%) and moong dal unwashed (190%) have been others that have really burnt holes in pockets. Cigarettes too have on average become dearer by 188%.

These are, of course, rural retail prices, so the actual prices and increases that the average urban Indian faces are likely to be different, in most cases higher. However, the broad trend is clearly unlikely to be very different between rural and urban areas.

On the positive side, there are some, though not many, goods and services that have seen prices stagnate or even decline over these nine years. Among them are postcards, inland letters and local railway fares.

The minimum rail fare for an adult has reduced from Rs 8.8 to Rs 8.1 in these last nine years, a reduction of 7%. There has been no hike in inland letter cards, which cost Rs 2.50 in March 2004 and were priced at the same level in March 2013. Postcards too have seen their price remaining unchanged at 50 paise each.

The average price of a transistor radio was Rs 421 then and has risen to 481 now – a modest price rise of just under 10% in nine years.


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