Inflation, the UPA and 76 runs

Facing heavy pressure from the Left and the BJP, the UPA government has finally taken steps to reduce a high-speed increase in prices of food products. Inflation touched 6.68% last week, but there is clearly a global food crisis. Bumper stocks have fallen and the UN has warned the world that 36 nations face an impending food shortage. Rice and wheat are the worst hit, with prices at an all-time high.

The UPA is facing a critical phase in national politics, which will test its decision-making abilities and crisis management skills. Problems with the BJP regarding the Kandahar issue are surfacing and their Hisaab Maango campaign to get Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati talking about corrupt activities in the state will add more pressure, if nothing else. This certainly won't help the Congress in their election bid for the upcoming Assembly polls, although evidently they are targetting exactly that.

On par with such problems was a dreadful display by India on Day 1 of the second Test match against South Africa at Motera, Ahmedabad. Being bowled out for a measly 76 runs (the team’s second lowest score ever while playing in India) left me and one billion others shell-shocked as the batsmen collapsed dramatically, and in a way that wipes out all recent successes from memory.

You can’t say that the match is over, at least out of hope in this very formidable, experienced batting line-up which is more than capable of posting huge totals. But the fall down definitely gives the visitors the advantage and it’s up to them to make the most of what happened today. Harbhajan Singh called it the worst day of his career. For me, it was the third worst Indian showing after the 2007 World Cup debacle and the 54/all out against Sri Lanka in Sharjah 8 years ago.

Scary stuff. But it ain’t over till it’s over.