Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram and the entire “prestigious” class who are managing the economy of India,
The recent proposal by Planning Commission to consider only those earning less than Rs. 32 a day as poor has come both as surprise and a rude shock to us who belong to the 90% of India’s population which constitutes working class of India.
As you are aware we the working people the majority in this country have not had the privilege of education at prestigious international universities like Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard or even fortunate enough to get into premier Indian institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the IIT’s or IIM’s.
Hence we have very little knowledge of economic reforms, the financial system and inflation variability, market and price relations, raw materials and manufactured goods, trade, banking system and foreign exchange trading. We, the majority, belong to the sections which you classify as backward sections of society and we certainly are lower income groups, with labour as the only source of livelihood and the incomes we earn only ranges anywhere between few hundreds to a couple of thousands of rupees, that hardly meets our daily expenses.
What intrigues us is, how the government expects us to live by proposing to set the poverty line at Rs. 26 a day for rural areas and Rs. 32 a day for urban areas especially given the price rise and the food price inflation which has been spiralling unabated in the last 24 months. Thus, our humble question is whether all you brilliant economists like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chidambaram and the Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee will be able live on Rs. 26-32 a day ?
The baffling proposal of Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning commission to set the income limit at Rs. 4824 for a family of 5 people is truly mind boggling. With the spiralling prices of essential commodities like vegetables, milk, meat etc., that is now proving out of reach to many ordinary working people and added expenditures like children’s education, health care expenses, rents in urban areas that have all gone up, we wonder how can anyone be expected live on such a low income.
Hence we the working people urge the geniuses, financial pundits, and economists like yourselves to en cash the attached cheque for Rs. 32 and show us by example as to how to manage a day’s living with that wonder sum of Rs. 32/-
Jagadish G Chandra
(Translation by Anand Kumar from Kannada)