A most pernicious effect of the political battle being fought in the country since the new government took office four months and a half ago has been the damage the economy has suffered. It has been so severe and all embracing that no section of society " the poor, the middle class and the rich " could claim to have remained immune. The all-round inflation, the depleting foreign exchange reserves, the precipitous fall in the value of the rupee, the tumbling bourses and the rising unemployment have added the feeling of economic instability to the obvious reality of political uncertainty that has resulted from the needless dragging of the issues of the President's impeachment and judges' reinstatement. Business activity appears to be on hold and investments are stalled. The situation demanded a pro-active approach, but the pity is things are allowed to take their course without any sign of official intervention. With the prices of goods of daily use, particularly of food items, registering a record jump almost every day, the common man's life has become simply unendurable. The lower the income level, the greater the compulsion to reset priorities in expenditure, and the consequent denial of essential needs. The government seems to be too engrossed in the internal political crisis to find time to do any homework in an attempt to mitigate the suffering; rather, it is acting only mechanically. The unconscionable increase in the prices of fuel, which in today's life plays a crucial role, following the lead of the international market is a case in point. The impact on the general public of the combined fuel-food shock, though a worldwide phenomenon, could have been markedly reduced had smuggling and hoarding of staple food items been checked and their supply assured and, in the context of petroleum products, a review of government taxes and the share of oil marketing companies and retailers been done to help the consumer. While the increasing economic uncertainty on the one hand, and a part-time finance minister on the other, depict the casual attitude of the leadership towards this grim situation, the persistent refusal of the President to bow out of office in deference to public wishes does not help matters either. However, whatever the circumstances, the ruling coalition cannot take the economic melt down in the offing lightly. Its economic experts need to put their heads together and immediately devise a plan to mitigate the people's misery. Measures like cash donations or food stamp schemes do not constitute permanent solutions.