Monday, March 26, 2012

28 Rs per day

Our planning commission still doesn’t get it I think. They insist that a citizen in India should join the group of privileged or the rich if they earn 28 Rs per day! Guess the only way to make them see the truth is to force them to show it to the nation. Let our media also have a field day in airing their woes live to the nation while they try subsisting at 28 a day for at least a month.

It was for this same reason that two youngsters, Tushar Vashisht and Mathew Cherian  tried this experiment.

Late last year, two young men decided to live a month of their lives on the income of an average poor Indian. One of them, Tushar, the son of a police officer in Haryana, studied at the University of Pennsylvania and worked for three years as an investment banker in the US and Singapore. The other, Matt, migrated as a teenager to the States with his parents, and studied in MIT. Both decided at different points to return to India, joined the UID Project in Bengaluru, came to share a flat, and became close friends.

Rs100aday is an attempt by two friends to bring to light the issues affecting the common man in India through direct experiences.

This blog has its beginnings in an effort to live on India’s average income - Rs. 100/person/day without rent – to observe and understand the constraints that come with life at a monthly income of 3000.

However, after the Planning Commission came out with the proposed poverty line of Rs. 32/person/day, we decided to spend one week living at that income level in addition to three weeks at Rs. 100/day. Besides coming to the realization that the Rs. 32 figure is nonviable, we also gained some key insights into the lives of the poor

While they were at it:

Hardly a day went by during the past month, in which we didn’t think of food. And no, it wasn’t because we couldn’t get our minds off of planning the first meal we would have at the end of our experiment. Rather, it was because, food was the largest component of our budget at both Rs. 100/day (50%) and Rs. 32/day (68%).
  States like Kerala had a well set up PDS system much earlier than the rest of the country.

It is well known that Kerala had one of the best run and most effective PDS networks in India. Prior to the introduction of targeting, Kerala was the only state in India with near-universal coverage of the PDS.

If these youngsters had a tough time in a state like Kerala, it would be even tougher in other states. Since APL (Above poverty line) and BPL(Below poverty line) is fixed as per the planning commission’s figure of poverty line, the poor of India is yet again squeezed.

Planning Commission on Monday further reduced poverty line to Rs.28.65 per capita daily consumption in cities and Rs.22.42 in rural areas, scaling down India's poverty ratio to 29.8 per cent in 2009-10, the estimates which are likely to raise the hackles of civil society.
It is not as though India does not have enough to distribute through it’s PDS scheme but this very important “Poverty Line” determines who shall get it, even when half of it rots away.

According to information revealed from a RTI petition filed in Delhi, the FCI has spent crores of rupees over the past decade in just disposing off the rotten foods lying in the go-downs.
Will those at the Planning Commission, specially Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia dare to take up this experiment?



  1. I was expecting the subject from you or another Blogger Mr Chowla.
    First Montek Singh's endorsement of this bizarre amount or cut off figure is acceptable if he can live a month within that. in reality what is his income, a few thousand times of the subsistence figure he proclaimed?
    If one cannot run the mile , bring forward the the post.That will do wonders . Exactly what Montek Singh and the old geriatric PM did.

    Cruelty has no bounds in India? the poor need some respect if not a square meal.
    Remember Manmohan Singh was very upset when the Supreme Court criticised the government for callousness and letting food grains rot in FCI warehouse.

  2. Anil: Is it not a fair request that they show how to live on 28 Rs. per day?
    Specially since their decisions have a large impact on the poor Indians.

    Inventing magical figures seems to be the latest election stunt while the voters shall remain too hungry to even think about it.. and come election, they will bait them with hopes and doles.


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