ByÂ 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.
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.