Indian media concern over rising food prices

The continuous rise in food prices worries Indians
Image caption The continuous rise in food prices worries Indians

Papers and experts in India are expressing concerns over the rising cost of food as the country's consumer price inflation has returned to a double-digit figure.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 10.09% in October, up from 9.84% in September, due to soaring prices of vegetables and other food items, government data released on Tuesday showed.

Papers say retail food prices, which are an important component of the CPI, have affected millions of middle-class families.

"Stubborn retail inflation along with pressure on wholesale prices makes it difficult for the Reserve Bank of India (central bank) to cut interest rates and ease the pain of households reeling under the burden of soaring prices and costly monthly payouts on mortgages and vehicle loans," The Times of India says.

The Hindu, in this graph, shows how the prices of essential food items have risen since September.

"Costlier vegetables and fruits, such as onions and tomatoes, drove retail inflation to 10.09% in October, entering double digits after seven months," it says.

Analysts see the rise in retail inflation as a "worrying sign" for the economy which is trying to recover from a sustained "poor show" in the past few quarters.

"The increase in the retail inflation... is quite a disturbing trend. What is even more disturbing is that the expectations of prices coming down because of good monsoon seem to have been belied," The Economic Times quotes industry expert DS Rawat as saying.

India's factory output also registered a below-expectation growth as it rose to 2% in September after expanding at 0.4% in the previous month, reports say.

"Retail inflation remains high due to vegetable prices. Industrial output number is also disappointing though basic goods and the intermediate goods production has picked up," financial paper Mint quotes analyst Devendra Kumar Pant as saying.

Meanwhile, data based on Wholesale Price Index (WPI), a more definitive measure of inflation, is due to be released later this week, but forecasts are giving no reason for optimism.

The data is expected to put wholesale inflation at an eight-month high of 6.9%, a Reuters news agency poll of economist suggests.

Meanwhile, newspapers are also worried over the rupee's continuous depreciation against the dollar.

The rupee opened at a two-month low of 63.9 against the dollar on Wednesday.

The Hindustan Times says "just when a degree of stability appeared to have returned, the rupee has again begun to skate down".

The paper adds that the poor economic indicators bring bad news for the ruling Congress party-led coalition as it prepares for the assembly polls in five states and the 2014 general elections.

Google doodle

Moving on to foreign affairs, Japan has sought more "flexibility" from India after the two countries agreed to accelerate discussions on a civilian nuclear deal, the First Post website reports.

"Every negotiation needs to have some kind of flexibility," a Japanese official told reporters after a meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on Tuesday.

Some countries, including the US and Japan, are reluctant to sign a deal with India because its nuclear liability bill stipulates that firms aiming to set up plants in India will have to pay huge sums in case of an accident.

Meanwhile, a girl from the western city of Pune has won the top award in Google India's doodle-making contest on the theme "Celebrating Indian Women", the Deccan Herald reports.

"My doodle depicts the traits of Indian women who are graceful and elegant, adept at balancing work and home. They are go-getters and also personify motherhood," says Gayatri Ketharaman, whose Doodle will go live on the search engine's website on Thursday.

And finally, veteran cricketer Rahul Dravid has backed the World Anti-Doping Agency's call for a legal agreement that would require sportspeople to declare their exact whereabouts and provide advance information about their engagements, the Zee News website reports.

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