Retail inflation, calculated on the basis on Consumer Price Index (CPI), was revised to 5.84 per cent in March, according to data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) on May 12.
Data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) showed that retail inflation remained in the RBI's upper target limit of 6 per cent for the first time since November 2019. This was the lowest level of retail inflation reported since November last year.
The ministry said it was not releasing general CPI for April in view of the nationwide lockdown to contain spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Generally, the price data for calculation of CPI are collected from selected 1,114 urban markets and selected 1,181 villages through personal visits by field staff of NSO, MoSPI on a weekly roster. However, due to the coronavirus-led lockdown, the price collection of CPI through personal visits of price collectors was suspended with effect from March 19, 2020.
"In the month of April, 2020, price data was largely collected by telephonic enquiry from the designated outlets. This was supplemented by information collected during the personal purchase of field staff for the items being transacted from neighbourhood outlets keeping in view the travel advisories," the ministry said.
The whole exercise was carried out by well experienced and professional staff of FOD, NSO stationed at about 200 locations across the country. The agency accordingly collected prices from 674 urban markets and 524 villages, for commodities which were available and being transacted during the lockdown period, it added.
"In view of the limited transactions of products in the market in the month of April, 2020, it has been decided to release the Price Movement of Sub-groups/Groups of CPI, following the principles of adequacy," the ministry said.
Meanwhile, India's industrial output as measured by IIP (Index of Industrial Production), steeply contracted by 16.7 per cent in the month of March 2020 as compared to the year-ago period. This was mainly due to slump in production from mining, manufacturing and electricity sector amid nationwide lockdown.
By Chitranjan Kumar