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“Because His Voice Is The Most Important”: A Common Interview With A ‘Common Indian Man’

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By Pranjal Begwani:

Skyrocketing inflation and commodity prices, a falling rupee yet to have realised its nadir, rising gold prices, declining investor confidence, and the Sensex and Nifty trading indices witnessing steep declines. It’s all ‘happening’ here in India, although a little play on the word will tell you that India isn’t exactly one of those ‘happening’ places anymore.

common man

But what does all this mean for the common man on the streets — the poor and the lower middle classes — the masses of India. One such ‘common man’ was considered as a respondent and is representative of a lot of similar problems which a majority of India’s ‘masses’ are facing today.

Respondent: Raj Kumar

Raj Kumar works as a peon cum assistant, in one of the many electrical showrooms in Asia’s largest electrical market — Bhagirath Palace. A resident of Sonia Vihar in north-east Delhi, he had migrated to Delhi several years ago from Pratpgarh in Uttar Pradesh of ‘Raja Bhaiya fame’. He supports a family of five and is the only working member of the family. His monthly salary is a meagre Rs.6500 which just never seems enough.

How has the change in prices affected you over the past year?
The rate of milk has gone up from Rs. 18 (per half-kilogram) over a year back, to more than Rs.21 currently. Prices of gas have gone up over the same period, from Rs.900 to Rs.1100. And prices are so high right now, that I have completely stopped purchasing onions and refined oil since the last two months. Sarson ka tel se hi kam chala lete hain. We have also reduced our consumption of tomatoes.

Has the increase in petrol/diesel prices brought about changes in your lifestyle?
No not much, since the only vehicle I own is a bicycle, to ride to and from work over a round trip of 30 kilometres each day.

What is your monthly consumption pattern like?
I earn Rs.6500 as monthly salary. But I almost always overdraw Rs. 1500 a month in the process accruing a monthly debt. My monthly expenses are in the whereabouts of Rs. 7700. Rs.1500 is spent on rent (up from Rs.1300 for a house in the same colony), Rs.300 on electricity, Rs.1100 on gas, Rs. 2500 on daily-use commodities (rice, dal, masala, oil, soap, surf), Rs. 1000 on milk, Rs. 500 on vegetables and Rs 800 on education for my two children. I therefore save nothing but rather am in constant debt.

Who would you hold responsible for this crisis and price-rise?
Frankly, I don’t know much, but I hold the government solely responsible for the mess the country is in. I also have not received any benefit as yet from the government’s schemes.

Do you vote and if yes, then who do you plan to vote for in the coming assembly and national elections?
Yes, each member of my family who is an eligible voter, votes. I will surely not vote for the incumbent government. The BJP appears to be the best option.

Photo Credit: Eileen Delhi via Compfight cc

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  1. K.B.Srivastava

    Since 2006, I have written several letters to GOI and Prime Minister s office have written me that my letters are being reviewed. I have twitted how to abolish poverty. Summery of my letter is as under:
    In financial year 2013-14, GOI has sanctioned Rs6.385kharab for Indira Awas Yojna, Rs19.2726kharb ;for Sarva Sikchha Abhiyan, Rs9.0155kharab for Mid Day Meal, Rs4.8642kharab for National Social Assistance, Rs25kharab for National Health Mission, Rs7.6678kharab for Backward Region Grant fund, Rs10.850kharab for Integrated Child Development Service, Rs2.9006kharab for National Rural Livelihood Mission,Rs13.50kharab for Food Security and Rs1.8kharab for subsidy on fuel. Grand total of all amounts is Rs101.30855kharab. Although these amounts are sanctioned for different schemes and in different heads but all amounts are for welfare of poor families of India. Under Food Security Ordinance, GOI has counted 5 members in a family & GOI is expecting that 82Cr people (16.40Cr families) will be benefitted under this Scheme. In my opinion the families whose income is less than Rs15000/- per month are poor and 16.40Cr families (82Cr people whose vote make government) are really poor.If these amounts are transferred in accounts of 16.40Cr poor families of India (82crore people whose vote make government), each family will receive Rs5147/- per month and if State Governments add its 50% share, then each poor family will receive Rs10294/- per month. If interest of black money of Rs250kharab is also paid as pension to 16.40Cr poor families, then each family will be getting Rs10294+1214=Rs11508/- per month. and if poor families get so much money each month, they will be able to get their children admitted in good schools and poor patients will also be able to get them treated in private and good hospitals. And if these amounts are not transferred in accounts of 16.40Cr poor families(82Cr people whose vote make government), then due to corruption, all amounts will be embezzled by the government employees. Sri Rajeev Gandhi, our former Prime Minister had ;observed that out of Re1/-beneficiaries get only 15 paisa. Hence direct benefit transfer(DBT) is must. We should appreciate our UPA government that it has already started cash transfer of gas subsidy (DBT) in 172 district and it is expected that in 2014 all districts of India will be covered. Therefore, I request Central Government & State Governments to send the same in accounts of 16.40Cr poor families directly(DBT). In the ancient times also King “Raja Ram Chandra Ji” used to give at several occasions 5-5 gold coins to poor people from treasury.
    My E mail address is :

    1. Aditi Thakker

      Free money is hardly ever the solution.

  2. K.B.Srivastava

    If number of judges and its staff and female constables are increased as per norms of America (21 times), problem of pending court cases, unemployment and female security will be solved. and income of some unemployed persons may also be increased.

  3. Aditi Thakker

    Good interview. The author has mentioned earlier that he is the only woking member in a family of five, out of which two are children. I cannot help but wonder why the other two members of his family are not working. That could really help ease his financial difficulties. Even if they aren’t educated members, many people in Delhi need domestic help.

    1. Pranjal Begwani

      Well, to be frank the same question went through my mind when i was conversing with Raj Kumar. Apart from his wife, who has to stay at home due to household compulsions such as daily chores and the requirements of two pre-adolescent children, the fifth member of his family is his ailing mother with a permanent illness.

  4. Saumya Sahni

    We travel is swanky cars, shop from posh markets, have homes in urban ares and live a lavish lifestyle. This was certainly an eye opener. We need to be considerate towards those who live life and earn their with a lot of difficulties. The point where the respondent says that they will vote these elections was indeed heartening and can prove to be inspiring for lot many who do not vote in the elections and then go on cribbing as to how their politicians are corrupt. The respondent’s struggle is an inspiration for many.

  5. K.B.Srivastava

    Sri Aditi Thakker Ji,
    You are right that free money is hardly ever the solution. But amount sanctioned is not for development but only for purpose of social welfare and I have mentioned that if amount sanctioned are not transferred in accounts, the amount will be embezzled by the government employees. Sri Rajeev Gandhi himself has observed the same and government is itself in favour of Direct Benefits Transfer(DBT) and it has also started transferring gas subsidy in 172 districts and it is expected that by 2014 all districts of India will be covered. My request is only that amounts sanctioned for social welfare should be sent in accounts of 16Cr families(80Cr people ;whose vote make government). Government can increase number of judges and its staff 21 times as per norm ;of America and female police personnel to ensure security of ladies. I mean that money has been sanctioned by the government and it should be transferred in accounts of beneficiaries, so that amounts are not embezzled and government can employ 16Cr people, if govt. like. There are lot of work pending in honourable Courts. If government employ 16Cr. people, problem of unemployment and pending cases in Courts will also be solved. But all amount sanctioned for help of flood affected families or for poor families should certainly be transferred in their accounts directly, otherwise employees will certainly embezzle the amount. You have seen so many scams & embezzlement nowadays.

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