Living on Rs. 32 a day

Just got off the unreserved category train from Bangalore to Kottayam and burnt almost all of our reserves doing that! And its time to get ready for the tough week ahead – living at the poverty line as suggested by the Planning Commission. So, how have we prepared for it? Well, we spent our journey reading and analyzing the Planning Commission’s affidavit to Supreme Court and the Tendulkar report on Estimation of Poverty to try and understand what the Rs. 32 really includes. Our findings: everything!

The Tendulkar report itemizes various cost buckets individually and provides an estimation of how much a “poor” person needs to spend on them. On the right is a pie chart, describing the distribution for an urban person. All figures have been inflation adjusted to current prices.

The rent and conveyance particularly caught our eye. How can someone spend so little – Rs. 1.71 – on rent+conveyance? Is it assumed that she will mostly stay in a dwelling she owns outright? But that goes against the Commission’s assumption that these expenses are based on “consumption” and not “expenditure”. Therefore, everything you consume must be expensed for. In Kerala, we will be staying in a room that costs Rs. 1000 per month. Once again, we cannot account for the actual rent, but expense the Rs. 1.71 in lieu.

We also cannot spend the money meant for clothing, durable goods, education, medical (hopefully!), etc. All that subtracted leaves us with Rs. 25.71 for our total budget including Rs. 17.35 for food. Lets look at the food distribution that the Planning Commission assumes:

Do we have access to PDS ration shops for this at BPL prices? Again, unfortunately, no! The Tendulkar report seems to have calculated its price indices at market prices, so we will have to as well. What does it mean in terms of nutrition for us? How much can we have? From the prices on the pie chart, it seems like it will be a tough battle for us. We don’t think we will meet our calorie goals and further, and it will have to be a highly protein deficient diet. Let’s see how tomorrow turns out.

Tushar has lost 9 pounds since beginning the experiment and Matt has shed some 4. Wonder what this next week will bring!

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7 Responses to “Living on Rs. 32 a day”

  1. Great going Tush!.. i guess u would create a world history some day…good luck with your journey..

  2. can I point out that Tushar was look a little chunky anyway… good thing you are dieting.

  3. i also like 2 join in ur grup . today i read an article about tush & matt.its unbelievable that u can live a day with just 32 rs .today onwards i will also try this in my home.all the best 4 ur future!

  4. I liked the study and agreee with your views. Actually the planing commission members should live this life instead of sitting in air conditioned rooms and decide the minimum living expense for a person.

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