Vikram Singh is accustomed to life under the tyranny of elements he cannot control, from rains that do not fall to insects that tear at his crops. One unchanging trouble is plaguing his family — rising prices.
“Everything has gone up,” Mr. Singh said, as his family members plucked a meager cotton harvest on their one-acre patch of earth in the Indian state of Gujarat. He rattled off the items that cost more: the lentils that are a staple of his family’s diet; the cotton-oil cakes they feed to their dairy cows. Fertiliser. Diesel fuel for their tractor. Clothing, and school fees for the four children. Across this nation of more than 1.3 billion people, as in many of the world’s developing countries, versions of such tribulations are diminishing fortunes.
The strain of higher prices reflects a global change in sentiment as the United States Federal Reserve — known, not for nothing, as the central bank for the world — steadily lifts interest rates. Investors have been pulling money out of riskier, developing countries and entrusting it to safer, more established economies like the United States. That has sent the value of currencies plunging from Argentina to Turkey to India, making basic goods more expensive for households and businesses, while amplifying debts.
“Farmers are losing money,” Mr. Singh said. “We just survive. We are earning less and spending more.” Photographed in Gujarat for the New York Times
The Radhe Industries cotton factory in Kadi, in the state of Gujarat. Indian cotton growers’ costs have been rising, but the prices they are getting for crops have plunged
Rambu Jaday picks cotton in fields belonging to Vikram Singh, in a village in Kadi, Gujarat state. Harsh weather has devastated the Singhs’ crop over the last few years
Residents of Vedaj village. The rise in oil prices — in dollars — and the fall of the rupee have lifted the cost of petroleum-based products for Indian manufacturers
Collecting water outside a tea stall Laxman Gohel owns in Ahmedabad. Increases in the price of coal, which he uses to boil water, have cut deeply into his profits
Somu Raju separates raw cotton from husks at the Radhe Industries cotton-ginning factory
Manjula Popat clears cotton from processing machines at the Radhe Industries cotton-ginning factory
Mr. Gohel, 38, at his tea shop, which he opened with money he saved from ragpicking. He cannot pass on higher costs to customers. “These poor people cannot pay me more,” he said
A delivery of plumbing supplies in Ahmedabad, a city of six million that is home to factories that produce a wide variety plastics. The rise in oil prices and the glut of plastics factories have cut profit margins
Checking cotton husks at the Radhe Industries cotton-ginning factory