Dear Brother Mick Canning had posted on his blog, and ‘this’ is by way of my ‘Remarks’ on a Re-blog. As has become usual in my case, of getting a lot of thoughts and writing quite a lot at such occasions, am making a separate post of it, and am giving a link to his, as under:
Stereotypes and Misunderstandings
Very happy to get those figures as to Incomes, and particularly the Rent, in the West. And Yes, We in India Do think that Westerners abound in Money, and I too was one of them, though now I have seen reason, so to say.
This post is by way of Understanding India. I share my thoughts on:
- Salaries or Income,
- Housing and Rent,
- NGO’s [ Non Governmental (Charitable) Organizations ], and
- A Caution on (the Absence of) Cleanliness, particularly in Eateries.
1. INCOME or SALARIES
We are going to talk about the Middle and Lower income groups. We have to keep in mind that these things themselves are hard to define!
Starting from The Poorest, I would not hesitate to say that a Full 1% of People are Homeless, Abandoned, On the Streets, literally.
Just a few days ago a Poor Woman aged about 72 came to me and shared how she had gone to Church on Christmas night with her daughter, (the Daughter is Catholic, the Mother is a Hindu), and at the end of services they were all given a small piece of ‘Cake,’ which would have cost about 10 rupees…
What are pictured are probably of a much better quality. But the people in general go in for the 10 rupee kind, as evidenced by the large number of bakeries offering these same. But frankly, the 10 rupee pieces taste like Sawdust and Mud. Excuse me.
…And a little ‘Mixture,’ known as ‘Namkeen’ in the North. This last is a Savoury, prepared mainly of Roasted/Fried Pulses with Salt and Chilli powder.
Now You know. But not that the Poor woman got this quality or this much.
Going back to that Poor Woman, she stated These two things were the Tastiest bits of Food she had eaten for a Long time!!! …She and her daughter have been subsisting on the few Kilograms of ‘Free Rice’ issued by the government of Tamil Nadu. This, by the way, is a Political ploy to garner the Votes of the Electorate rather than any Love for the Populace.
The people of this level get by by taking their rice with Chilli and Salt, and at times, with Rasam, the ‘soup’ of Tamarind, salt and chilli again, costing very little. They pluck the leaves, particularly of the Drumstick, which can be found easily all over, and add these to the rice.
The top of the Drumstick tree, with Flowers and Fruit, really a Vegetable.
Drumstick leaves, used as Greens.
The owners of these trees do not mind the leaves being plucked by the people, (except they would not allow it to be sold by that person!), but plucking the drumsticks is not allowed. The owners do share it with their family and neighbours of course, as also to the poor at times.
Social Security in India
This does not exist in India per se. There Are ‘Old Age Pensions,’ ‘Pensions for the Disabled,’ Assurance for work in the form of ‘100 day Scheme,’ whereby the Poor are supposedly assured of at least that many days of work at Rs. 100 a day, (unless the rate is revised), increased to 150 days in drought hit areas, Free Medical care (upto a point) at government hospitals, etc.
But the execution of all these schemes are totally laden with CORRUPTION.
Out of, let us say, a 100 announced as eligible for a scheme, only 50 would get it, for about 6 months. A few do keep getting it in full for ‘Show case’ purposes.
Many schemes, when they reach the lowest, let us say Village level, get the money deposited in short term ‘fixed deposits,’ which Interest is pocketed by the politicos and the officials.
The people with names on the 100 day scheme list find that they are not called up, but the books would show full implementation, of course.
Can I prove any of these things, to the satisfaction of a court of law? As much as a Dog can Prove that it had been kicked.
Altogether too many Shop Assistants work for Measly wages, often Less than Rs. 3,000 pm, which works out to $ 1.60 a Day. The dollar is going at about Rs. 66 each these days. I am talking about ‘Starting’ salaries.
Masons and Carpenters get upward of Rs. 500 a day, (more in cities), their assistants getting Rs. 300+.
So it might surprise us that Shop assistants work for so less. For them hard work is not customary, and they get assured work. The class stated above get work when it is available.
There are a Whole lot of who can only be called ‘Labourers,’ who also go in search of jobs, sometimes travelling far from their homes and states, for instance from Bihar to Punjab, Kerala, etc. They work for about Rs. 15,000 per month for practically the whole year, getting a few days off per annum to visit their families. Their work goes on for 12 hours a day plus. The hours over and above the 8 do not get Any Extra remuneration.
Sadly, being mostly Uneducated, they get duped by their bosses who list up Imagined expenses to their accounts, and by Railway staff during their travels, etc.
It is night, the train is the ‘Raptisagar express,’ which connects the North East of India with Kerala, via Gorakhpur in UP. The Ticket collector had demanded a goodly amount from this Young man in spite of his having had a valid ticket, and had threatened to De-board him unless he paid up. Unfortunately for the Ticket collector, I happened to need to go to ease myself, and found all this happening, near the Toilets, of course.
This and the next photo are mine, others are all from the internet.
Two of the Young men, ‘Labourers,’ and the Looks on All their faces show Us just How Cushy a life they lead. God have Mercy on us.
Of note, before I conclude this section, are ‘government employees.’ Their Least pay seems to be Rs. 25,000 per month, for instance for Peons, etc. 30 to 60 Thousand a month is common for these people, Yet they think they are not paid enough.
Getting such good salaries, AND so many Paid holidays, a large number of perks, etc, it is Woeful that they are the Basis of Corruption. We are not blaming the Bus Drivers and the Conductors here. But Any office Clerk, and those above them, besides making the Citizen run from pillar to post, AND not getting his job done, are the Cursed lot. When Bribes are paid, the work does get done. All this from First hand Experience.
Long gone are the days when one could have had a meal for a ‘few’ rupees, if few means anything less than 5.
The Poorest can Eat in something like Rs. 10, (3 or 4 Idlis, – those Steamed, Rice-and-Pulse cakes, taken with Sambar or Chutneys).
What is pictured above would not cost less than Rs. 40, an estimate, since I never go to such ‘expensive’ places! …They would be tasty. So You can Imagine the ‘taste’ You would get for Rs. 10.
3 or 4 Tasty Idlis, prepared at Home, should cost around Rs. 7 to 10.
From First Hand Experience, (having run Eateries Twice in my life!), I know that the Ratio between Selling Price and Cost Price, for Eateries, is 10:4.
I have found eating 2 Parothas costing Rs. 20, which come with a ‘Kurma,’ as Most Cost effective, Enough for my Hunger, Tasty, and all that! Pictured below, these would cost nothing less than Rs. 15 a Parotha, not a bad deal actually. The Onions, – mixed with Chopped Chillies and Coriander leaves in ‘thin’ Curd, (the thin being the Economy measure of the Restaurant owner!), are served to ‘Cut’ the effect of the Maida, the Refined flour of the Parothas.
Coming to ‘Meals,’ which mean RICE and something in the South, where I am nowadays, would cost anything between Rs. 20 to 75, the second being OK for Visitors from abroad. (Think of Your Stomach linings!).
I appreciate the difference as shown by Mick, in that Meals would cost 2.5 to 3 dollars, which comes to about Rs. 165-200.
TEA means a rather heavily sweetened drink, mixed with Milk, Unless You specify otherwise. But nowadays they offer Green Tea, Lemon Tea, ‘Sukku Kappee’ (made of Dried Ginger and other things, a very good drink, actually), etc.
COFFEE, besides being mixed with Milk and Sugar by Default(!), is mostly made of Instant coffee powders. If You want Black Coffee, please ask for ‘Filter Coffee,’ and specify that You do not want Milk and/or Sugar.
It may be best to buy Bottled water, costing Rs. 20 per.
Shown above are some good brands.
But I have found these artificially ‘mineralised,’ tasting quite different (brackish?) than the Water I have at home, obtained by boiling and cooling water from my bore well. More on Water at ‘Caution.’
3. HOUSING EXPENSES:
Ready made 1 Bedroom, 1 Drawing room (c 15 feet by 10) Houses cost from around 4 Lakh rupees (c 6,000 USD), but people do not prefer them as the quality, by way of the life of the building, is not satisfactory.
The Lucky few build their own houses at better quality when they get available government helps for the same amount.
Except in biggish ones, rooms are not taken for Rent in Villages. In towns and cities a decent two room house with Water connection and Electricity would cost about Rs. 5,000 pm.
But Accommodation is Not a Problem in India, Unlike the West where altogether too many are literally on the streets for having taken loans from banks for that.
The question of NGO’s had cropped up in the comments in his post. …Many have indeed come up showing themselves as ‘Helpers’ of the (Poor) People. But for a Long time the thought has become prevalent in India that ‘NGO’s Help Themselves.’
It is understandable that Expenses, like salaries, office, travel, even food and living, incurred in the running of a society/trust aiding people, might/would need to be taken from the donation.
But what is frequently seen is that even 70% of the monies are taken by those running these ‘societies.’ This includes the in-charges of even such famous institutions like Caritas and Misereor. I speak from experience again.
Catholic Nuns for the Most part do Excellent Service. Catholic Charitable institutions work better in North India than in the South. So the Next time You think of sending Your hard earned money for Charity over here, keep these points in mind, Please.
5. THE CAUTION!
WATER: Even if You find a little board saying that ‘RO’ water is used for cooking and drinking purposes in restaurants, Please do not take it at Face value.
Except in very good restaurants, (called hotels in India), cleanliness, especially Clean Drinking Water, is hard to come by. Bottled Mineral Water, easily available, seems to be the best choice for Visitors from Abroad.
REST ROOMS: Please, Do not even Venture into Public Urinals, etc. They are Atrocious. You Can use those in good types of Restaurants.
Sincerely hope these points make Your visit to India a Happy one! Regards. 🙂