How Inflation and Local Trains Go Hand In Hand!


Strange isn’t it?


Definitely yes. It may sound invariably funny and unsound (for some ) but I am going to pit together two of the very common concepts that every Mumbaiite (or for that matter every Indian) face or rather crib about.

This intriguing thought came across my other not-so-very-intellectual stream of thoughts when I was travelling back home in the local train. As inevitable as it is, I had the privilege to overhear some of the Gujju uncles chit chatting and cracking world economics over a game of cards. I would not dare to quote the entire conversation. The larger point is that there are certain issues which are so common as well as problematic that living with them is the only way a person can survive and one such worldly issue is ‘inflation’.

As we move on, I will try and compare the very basic concept of local trains and highly talked , discussed and criticised term ‘inflation’.

Over beloved Wikipedia defines inflation as “a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services and consequently, it also reflects erosion in the purchasing power of money – a loss of real value in the internal medium of exchange and unit of account in the economy”. Simply put, it is the increasing price of everyday stuff that we need or aspire to buy in terms of monetary value. Local trains are similar in that the number of people travelling by them keeps on increasing each day and you cannot help but think in your mind that “where do so many people come from everyday?”. In short, the travellers rise, so does the prices of our daily goods.

Secondly, inflation is not a one way trend, meaning it does not continue to move upwards always. There are times when the price levels decrease or which is termed as ‘deflation’ or ‘disinflation’ when it goes into the negative. Same is the case with the train crowd. Sometimes you see the number of people travelling in the train is very less (though a rare sight) and you wonder where did they disappear today? Both these concepts are movement driven as and when the economic environment changes. Inflation rate goes up at times of easy money availability or when the economy does well and the travellers increase during peak hours.

Then there is regulation and intervention along with controlling stances from the father of all the banks, RBI. It comes into the picture when trying to tame the aggressively natured inflation in the form of raising interest rates and through open market operations (the two main monetary policies widely used by the banking head).  We do see some actions being taken by the Railway authorities when the trains are running late or are cancelled or shifted to another platform and at times like these there is a huge chaos created among the public (very identical to situations of high inflation and people protesting).

This one is a bit humorous to state, but nonetheless relevant point of comparison. We have divisions in the way we travel in the form of First class and Second Class. I couldn’t help but mirror it with the two classes of masses we have in society: the rich and the poor (which include the middle, lower, upper middle class). The vagaries of inflation are felt more by the poor as it is common and less (or even not) felt by the affluent. Same goes with the local train commuters who opt for the First class and the “rush and push” faced by them is on the lower side if not extreme like the Second class passengers.

I can note down more points on this hilariously brotherhood saga between the two but the purpose is to reflect the overview. On the whole, inflation is a concept which is unavoidable and it is something which will go on forever (with volatilities faced now and then). To put it simply, resources on earth are limited and as and when the number of people increase, the prices of necessities ought to go up and so there is a constant need to search for alternatives and parallel utilities.

Also, the local trains will go on forever and as the infusion of people from the rural to the urban rises, there will be more rush despite measures taken by the authorities to come up with alternatives like metro lines and monorails.

Both the things showcase one thing that we are sailing in the same boat and no matter what, it is the essential requirement for us to reach out to our destination.

Hope this comparison was helpful to give you an insight into life’s way of playing with us. Meanwhile, I  have to rush and catch my 8.50 local to CST.


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