It is official. There is a new India out there. A richer, more modern India that is consuming wonderful new things, and abandoning the boring commodities of yore. No, it’s not the blurb for the latest India-China—Chindia??—book by some desi professor at Harvard or Oxford.
It is what the office of the economic adviser to the government of India has revealed in the brand new Wholesale Price Index or WPI. The WPI is the price of a basket of goods that is supposed to be representative of what the nation consumes. It only looks at the prices at which goods are bought and sold by companies, and not consumers, but the price of this basket is still a ready reckoner for whether prices are going up or down.
Those numbers the talking heads on TV rant and rave about when they talk of inflation? That’s the prices on the WPI they are talking about.
Make juice: Lemons are in.
Now the government has revised the WPI, after almost 15 years, to make allowances for how the nation’s consumption has changed. Or so they say (there are some whispers that the new index also helps bring down inflation figures. Thereby making UPA II look better).
The new WPI then is a more up-to-date reflection of how we live our lives. What are we eating? Still rajma chawal? Or more nigiri sushi? Still wearing dhotis? Or orange corduroy hotpants like everyone in the trendy Lounge team?
The list contains hundreds of such items and many more industrial products. A virtual updated snapshot, if you will, of what we consume.
Lounge decided to compare the new and old WPI lists to see what new products made it. And what old-fashioned staples have been dropped, or adjusted into other more important categories.
New entrants into the list include lemons, refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens, video CD players, dish antennas and condensed milk.
Also debuting on the index are cotton trousers. Making way for these pants, it appears, are dhotis. The government has also now found it worthy to start looking at the price of footballs and toothbrushes.
Though don’t get all excited if you are a Manchester United fan with sparkling teeth. These items account for only a tiny portion of the overall WPI. Footballs bounce in at 0.00425% weightage and toothbrushes bristle at 0.01001%.
When it comes to weightages, things have changed there too. Food—dropping from 15.40246% to 14.33709%—has yielded ground to gold jewellery, soft drinks, alcohol and beer.
Papad, oddly enough, is a new entrant (masala papad goes well with beer. So that makes sense actually). Also new are the “dot pen with refill” and, with terrifying specificity, cotton pillow covers.
Readers with high grooming standards will be glad to know that the government is listening to your classily put forth requests. Wax, shaving cream, shampoo and hair dye now find individual listings.
However, things that have lost listing, or have been folded into other categories, include black and white TVs, Trekker vehicles and that old favourite: “complete tractors”.
If you had any doubts about the changes taking over our country, let the new WPI set them to rest. India is changing. Our future is bright, sweet, shiny, cold and lemony. And in this new India there simply isn’t place for tractors or trekkers.
This is pillow-cover country.