I was very happy this morning. And I must tell you couple of tales before I tell you why?
After Retirement, I took up Morning Walking very seriously and one of my favorite stops became a xxxSagar Restaurant which serves South Indian Filter Kapee ( the Morning Cuppa Coffee) and I just love it.
But before I come to the Inflation control (drab) story, let me recall a true incident in Moradabad some 20 years ago when I met a Brass Manufacturer/ Exporter as a Regional Head of a Logistics firm.
The gentleman was old, he decided to test me. He posed me a Question ( with a clear intent that I should either not talk about Price rise or simply drop my freight rates / provide unlimited credit/ give him loads of claims and finally forget all about the money due :) ). He said, as a Manager - I want you to make a Case study out of my business. I supply 1 Million Pieces of Brass carved Tea Sets to my German buyer. I meet him every year, I fly Lufthansa, I'm member of the Hon Club and have over ... Airmiles etc. etc. "... My problem is my buyer does two things.
1. He does not reduce the order quantity. He also does not increase the order quantity.
2.He does not allow me to increase the price. Hasn't for last 10 years.
He wanted me to appreciate all the price rise in the price of copper, labour, electricity, transportation, interest etc. etc. and solve this puzzle. It wasn't simple. I asked him for 15 min to think - meanwhile we had Tea in the famous Brass Tea Set which he very kindly offered.
Now me, I had begun selling career by Selling in Tonnes - Thousands of Tonnes as Fertilizer is transported by Rail, Truck and knew a Unit - Ton i.e. Weight.
In the role, I was playing we were selling in Grammes ( postal products- letters, covers) and Half Kilos to Tonnes again when it came to transporting goods by Trucks, Aircrafts etc. The Unit of measurements was again gram, Kilo and Tonnes i.e.Weight !
I thought, perhaps the answer lies here and decided to ask him a probe question. I asked him what is the weight of the Brass Tea Set which he has kindly served us the Tea. The Exporter was shocked ! He said - you've hit the Nail on the Head. Though I was close to 'Imagining the right answer in my head' - I said Yes Sir - you are very clever !" The Exporter was happy - he said I have reduced the weight of the Tea Set every year to correspond with the Price rise and inflation and my craftsmen know how to maintain the Cost. And, we never made a Loss !
This traders' story got firmly etched in my head - A Business Exists for Profit and Profit comes when you make profit in Purchase (Cost) and when you make profits thru Sale ( Price).
So let me digress and tell you what made me very happy this morning.
6 months ago, I was shocked ! A new Government had taken shape with a promise of the Inflation control and decline in prices. My Kapee Shop however shocked me by raising the Price from Rs. 10 to Rs. 12 with no justification at all ! May be, the Owner Shetty and the new MP Shetty ( who later became Rail Minister and is now Law and Justice Minister of the country ) did not gel well ! A hefty 20% Rise in my favorite Kapee ! I stopped drinking Coffee for about a fortnight and stopped 'Stopping' at the favourite joint ! But The South India Kapee is so addictive - I came back to it and would ensure that I had Rs. 2 Change each time some how.
I am sure, everyone has heard of the Famous Big Middle Class of India with Big purchasing power and even beyond ( for those who dig deeper and dig wealth from the Bottom of the Pyramid - where most of the 'Creamy Layer' resides). But I am retired and have come to the LIG class i.e. Lower Income Group and find it hard to adjust to such high inflation which takes away 6 days of my Pure Pleasure i.e. 'Coffee' ? The thought was indeed revolting.
I recall my college days in the Raipur's famous Indian Coffee House where we were 'Permanent Residents' - all progressive youths who could sometimes afford half a cup of Filtered South Indian Coffee drunk over heated debates between Right Wing, Left Wing and All in-between Political friends many of whom became famed writers, Politicians in BJP, Commies, Congress and even got elected to Assemblies and Parliaments. Coffee is one such heady decoction which can help you 'Get There' after All ! And here our corner Kapee shop Shetty was Rationing it by raising 20% Prices.
This morning was different. The weather had a bit of a nip and I have a running nose unfortunately for past 4 days but I took the walk ( in my stride) with my Cap and fake Police ceremonial Rosewood baton and all ! ( trust me, when I say this - I am slowly gathering followers - who like to get a 'Gait' in their walks due to the walking sticks and batons - Caps are of course, in vogue - after all I am a small trend-setter !)
So, I was saying that this morning was different. I stopped for Coffee and the cashier RETURNED Rs. 2 ! I said I don't want Tea - Give me a Coffee Coupon for Rs. 12 ! He said we REDUCED the Coffee Price ! I said WOW ( sounded almost like the Corporate - WHY?) so he answered and there was deep pain and anger on the cashier's face when he said this.
I was keen to know WHY? Milk prices had not come down - they have gone up. Electricity charges are up ! The LPG for Hotels is expensive now. Petrol and Diesel prices have gone down only for the Motorists and Scooterists. Not for the users of Public Transport like me. So I what thinking whether I should Thank PM Mr. Modi ji ?
And the Cashier gave me an answer which put me on the Horns of the Dilemma - He said ' There is a coin shortage ! in the market. So we decided to Round Off and bring the price down to Rs. 10 back again ! " I don't know whether to Thank Mr. Modi the PM, Mr. Jaitley the FM or the RBI Governor Mr. Rajan for this. Perhaps the last one to create the shortage of the Coins in the market by holding on to the supply of coins to Bangalore Market. After all, he is from South - so understands the importance of South Indian Kapee ! So thank you Mr. Rajan for controlling Inflation your Unique way !
Now this Hotel keeps two big jars boiling Milk - One is with Sugar and another is Without Sugar or Sugar Less. So when Diabetics like me have to order - we have to call for 'Less Sugar which translates for the Waiter as without sugar'. If by mistake we ordered Without Sugar coffee - we may get anything but coffee. :)
So I had a serious look at the coffee I was served. Keeping in mind my Moradabad experience with the Brass Tea Set. On close observation I came to know by probing the Chef that they are adding 20% More water from Today to the Milk Jars as per the Owners' orders !
So my pleasure was very short-lived. and my Dilemma became a Trilemma - Should I thank Modi, Rajan or My !@#$% Stars ! The truth is when we are at the Bottom of the Pyramid - as a consumer we are always Trounced ! :( as this is how it is 'Made in India'!
Let me know what you think.