People are bewildered at why social evils such as hoarding and profiteering thrive during Ramazan. This reminds me of the time when Martial Law was imposed in 1958. Very severe punishments were imposed for corruption and bribery etc. A government contractor went to an official to receive his payment. He thought he would not have to pay the usual compulsory bribe because of Martial Law. To his chagrin, the official demanded an even higher than usual amount this time. When he protested at it, he was told that the higher-than-usual charge was due to the 'added risk factor' of punishment under Martial Law. The system was working like an insurance business, where you pay a higher premium for greater risks. This may explain why Ramazan brings a higher level of prices. The hoarders, smugglers and profiteers think they are doing a greater sin and fear increased divine punishment for their deeds. -KHALID A., London UK, via e-mail, September 23.