About

Rs100aday is an attempt by two friends to bring to light the issues affecting the common man in India through direct experiences.

This blog has its beginnings in an effort to live on India’s average income – Rs. 100/person/day without rent – to observe and understand the constraints that come with life at a monthly income of 3000.

However, after the Planning Commission came out with the proposed poverty line of Rs. 32/person/day, we decided to spend one week living at that income level in addition to three weeks at Rs. 100/day. Besides coming to the realization that the Rs. 32 figure is nonviable, we also gained some key insights into the lives of the poor.

Building on our backgrounds in the public sector – both of us had worked on the Unique ID project – we have also put together some policy thoughts stemming from our month long experiment on issues that affected us the most – importantly food/PDS system, transportation and mobile communications.

So, what’s next? We plan to summarize the findings from our experiment and the resulting policy recommendations, and present it to the Planning Commission. We have already spoken to the Chief Minister of Kerala and got his views on Rs. 32/day. We hope to talk to other elected officials to get their perspective on Rs. 32. Moreover, this experiment has motivated us to continue the average Indian lifestyle at regular intervals – perhaps once a month. We will provide details on the “average India fast” soon!

Finally, we hope to continue to do similar lifestyle experiments, where we put ourselves artificially in situations when new government policies are declared to check their effectiveness on the ground. We will keep you posted.

You are welcome to join us (and keep tabs on us) in our past and future endeavors!

-Tushar & Matt

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62 Responses to “About”

  1. Dear Matt and Tushar

    1. I enjoyed your presentation to our Rotary Club yesterday

    2. what an incredible study

    3. it reminds me of the ‘Upsize Me’ movie – you could call yours “Down Size”

    Wishing you both well

    Kind regards

    Jonathan

  2. hats off guys!!!

  3. hi guys – read about your story in the new york times and we at the straits times in singapore are keen to write about the two of you as well.
    do you think you could drop me an email at ben.nadarajan@gmail.com? or benjamin@sph.com.sg
    cheers
    ben

  4. Do you think you could have managed if you two were women? e.g. replacing bicycling with bus fare? And accommodating other changes required in your living/working patterns?

    Or even a husband-wife pair?

    • We don’t know for sure. But our intuition is that it would be definitely harder for a husband and a wife, and even harder for two women, given the social norms, gender-based division of labor, etc.

  5. Hi Tushar & Mathew,
    I just read your story on ndtv website. Its a really tough task that you have taken up to understand ‘survival of the weakest’, but are you guys expecting any real change or policy output out of this? Wish you all the best and courage to continue further.

    • Dear DeeMan, this was an experiment primarily for our understanding only. But we do hope to publish our findings through media and other channels and make few specific policy recommendations as a result of this blog.

  6. vow……its great……………………..

  7. good effort if you are true.

  8. Good job…actually i have a doubt abt it…can we understnd all prblm of any indian even this rs100aday ?… we should understant different types of difficulties faced by a low income indian…even his mental strain…the above planning is only for a just experiment not a gud work..

    • You are right Arun, this is only an experiment and we cannot hope to replicatie everything about someone actually living on that income. Certainly not the mental strain that comes with knowing that there is no clear end in sight beyond the month. However, we did try to replicate everything we possibly could.

  9. Good……… Great job guys

  10. hay guys………,

    good job.wish you all the best for wonderfull success

  11. u r doing great job. hope u r giving money u saved to someone in need. best of luck.

  12. Tushar and Matt,
    Good job.Actually a huge amount have usually been used for these studies, and once they reached their conclusions, their subjects are again, worthless….Often these studies are only for the purpose of their career hikes….. But hats off to you two…..Your learning have a soul…..actually exploring the real core “India”…….Go ahead….Never give up this fire in you………

  13. I just saw a report on Malayala manorama about your adventure. I sincerly appreciate you 2 for the efforts made. Just out of curiosity am asking- did you tried to replicate the home atmosphere of low income man- like a unsecure house, clothing, entertianment options- radio/local theatres/mobile,( i assume u lived with laptop and books) etc… The point i want to ask is how 2 unmarried youth spend time while staying hungry. And also many of these labourers send money to their home every month. How they are saving money, (many of them have a second hand mobile) – is it by comprising on food and cloths.

    • Hi Vishak, yes we were replicating everything as much as possible, except for rent and clothing (even though we tried to live in our landlady’s servant quarter for a week and with a farmer in Kerala for another). Our internet, mobile, entertainment were all part of the Rs. 100. We tried to play sports or go running as much as possible to keep us busy. Between that, writing our blog/doing our research and household chores, it didn’t leave us with much time. Movie theaters were out of our budget unfortunately. We also saved Rs. 8 per person per day during that time.
      On Rs. 32, things were much harder. We tried to take walking trips as much as possible and do more research to keep us busy. But affording anything beyond food and basic necessities was too difficult

  14. You two really make the difference

  15. Tushar and Mathew,

    Real good experiment. Reminds me of the days when I was in college and my father would give me Rs.100 every day. I would spend not more than 50/day on an average while I went to college in my 150cc motorcycle and hence the petrol bill, ate Andhra mess food, watched 2 movies/week etc. But I had this mental assurance that my father is there to give me more if I were dry. With this experiment, I am sure you might get an opportunity to capture data wrt crime rates, avg happiness quotient etc and might even open up scope to think of new business ventures catering to the people who actually live this “Rs.100 a day” life.

    When are you guys going to publish your initial results? I would love to closely follow you! Cheers.

    Vamsi

  16. i’m a public health student in the states and have recently come across this website as well are this experiment through other forms of media. firstly, cheers to you for engaging in it in the hopes of enacting policy changes in india (my understanding is through a higher cut-off for the poverty level?). secondly, not to antagonize your experiences, but i do wonder how influential your lifestyle and eating habits prior to this experience were/are in your tolerance for these dietary changes. this query is relevant because the impoverished are often those who have been impoverished for most if not all of their lives (feel free to produce statistics that demonstrate otherwise; i am surmising, not stating a fact). that said, do they not build up a certain level of forbearance that you could/have not as a direct result of your above-indian-average lives and habits? this is merely a curiosity point. in no way am i belittling the conditions of the poorest of the poor or justifying their ability to endure them!

  17. Great initiative. Like Vamsi, I too lived college on less than 100 per day budget. In fact the last 10 days of the month were more like 30-40 per day, coz of d movies in d first 10 days.

    What i would like to know is, have u considered the fact that people who live on 100 a day ( not students like us) usually have to earn this said 100Rs on a daily basis and usually doing laborious activities. Bcoz i remember it wasn’t at all hard for me living on that budget coz it was free. I read somewhere u guys lost weight, whereas I remember gaining weight in college. So i guess you guys have considered it too. If not plzz do.

    • Sure, we believe that many of the people have to earn the money everyday. Did your budget include electricity, fuel, gas, transportation, internet, mobile, etc as well or were the Rs. 100 only for the food?

  18. Dear Tushar & Mathew – Yr effort is realy commendable and very inspiring. I read the full article in Straits Time – singapore. I wish young, qualified & honest people like you to come in politics and become MLA/MP/ Minister so that we can bring about lasting chnages in India. Today every educated person feels that poltics is a dirty place but that is where is the real power in democracy to effect the change. I am sure if a few people take initiative to form a poltical party to change India, many will follow and it is not impossible to get support to be elected.

  19. Hi guys
    After reading about your project in the NY Times keen to have you on Radio New Zealand if you’re up for an interview sometime.
    If so please contact me at richard.scott@radionz.co.nz.
    Cheers!
    Richard Scott
    Producer

  20. Hey guys ur doing great job. hope this could make a big change in society.

  21. Hi guys,
    Just saw your report on Headlines today,
    What you guys have proved is remarkable result. It really seems impossible to strive in mere Rs.32.
    Best of luck Guys for your further efforts.
    Cheers!!!
    Abhijeet

  22. Hi Tushar and Mathew,
    I am keenly following your experiment and am interested in understanding things in some more detail. If there is a possibility that we can catch up, I would definitely like to be there in person and have a this conversation. It would be great if you could email me on pratikhakay@gmail.com.

    Cheers,
    Pratik.

  23. Hi Tushar and Matt,

    First up, echoing the overwhelming voice here: a brilliant initiative, guys! It always heartens me to see this spirit of “giving something back to the country” in the youth – particularly students who had the fortune of receiving a sound education. As long as the lucky ones like us continue to care, there is hope.

    I read about you guys on the CNNGo Mumbai blog and found it quite fascinating. But, like some of the people in this chain above, it also made me wonder how a real difference can be made from your exceptional efforts. I understand you are trying to point out possible improvements in govt schemes and initiatives such as the PDS. But do you really believe that that is where the problem lies? I recently got the opportunity to study several govt schemes, and I must say I was quite impressed. They all look so brilliant on paper! It seems to me like the problem is not so much in the design, as in the execution and delivery. That is where most (if not all) the inefficiencies lie.

    What is your take on that? And any plans on addressing that side of things?

  24. great idea. but the experiment was about an average Indian man as u have acknowledged. it is hard to limit a woman’s needs to just 32 bucks a day; complicating it further as you have pointed out is the gendered DoL as well as social norms. eye-opener for a middle class woman of India. similar constraints would be in operation wrt other disadvantaged sections such as castes, tribes etc.here i see the limitation of an analysis based only on the economic unit of class. a question out of curiosity: based on your experiment, what’s your opinion about the extent to which an average Indian can indulge/spend any of his/her limited resources for anything like religion? or a hobby? or any such un-economic activities?

    • Hi Greeshma, at Rs. 100 a day, we used to spend anywhere between ~Rs. 2-8 for entertainment every now and then, which maybe considered as un-economic. I think the average Indian can have some flexibility, though limited, for occasional discretionary spending. However, that goes away at Rs. 32, where you really are substituting for essential items such as food, water and healthcare for any passion or hobby.

  25. How about starting a social enterprise to address some of the needs of the common Indian?

    • Vivian,

      We are doing exactly that. During our month long experiment, we realized that more than 50% of urban India is overweight. We believe this is a big problem that is not getting the attention it deserves. We have are starting up Caeruz Ventures to tackle this issue. You can find more information here – http://caeruz.com/projects.html . If you would like to hear more, please write to us: info at caeruz dot com

      • Dear Mr Cherian and Mr Vashisht,

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  26. Hi Tushar and Mathew,

    There’s one powerful factor you may have over-looked in your analysis – the starting point of your experiment. In other words, INFORMATION. You both are educated and that probably gave you airspace for course-correction in the experiment. Example, when you are talking about calories, you could figure out the parle-g, fried banana(?) meal course.
    I wonder how much an ‘average indian’ has enough education about calories, types of food available to suit his budget and still keep himself/herself fit or healthy.
    As mentioned in earlier comments, what about 2 women trying to sustain on this income or a family with dependants. Ceteris paribus, education could be a deal-clincher or deal-breaker in this situation.

    • Hi Yajiv, yes education can help in a big way. I guess our point was that even with all our education, survival at Rs. 32 was tough and unsustainable in the long run. So with relatively less education, I am sure it is even more difficult.

  27. Thanks for sharing this thought provoking empathetic experience with the brutal fact about INDIA and its planners

  28. hI Tushar and Matt,
    Mighty impressed. would like to get in touch with you.
    Roopa

  29. Dear Tushar and Matt
    I’m a UK-based writer about empathy and social change, and write a blog called Outrospection which is dedicated to this:
    http://www.romankrznaric.com/outrospection

    Over the years I’ve interviewed many people about their thoughts and experiences of empathy – trying to step into the lives of others and understand their views of the world – including world-famous nueroscientists and evolutionary biologists such as Frans de Waal.

    I’d love to interview one or both of you for my blog, to help spread the word of your inspiring experiment. Would you be interested? Basically I’d sent you five or so questions, and you send me back your answers – easy!
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Roman Krznaric

  30. It’s a great attempt. It’s an MBA – Mind Boggling Application of thought to start some thing big with a foot forward.
    The system is so corrupt that the political class gets going during the hustings with all the paraphernalia at their command with liquor, cash, food, cloths, etc, distributed through organized mafia to the gullible vote bank to the seat of power for a certain period to amass wealth for hereditary politics. There is no fear of punishment as the system goes through a lengthy process of conviction. It’s a free for all to loot.
    People are witnessing a little change during the year 2011. Hope it will go a long way to have a systematic functioning of all organs of constitution to its core strengths for better sustainability standards of living paving way for a vibrant economy of our great country. Higher education is in shambles and no efforts on entrepreneurship and innovation. Just to have some collaborative programs with foreign universities for twinning programs by undertaking foreign trips
    A lot is desired in the field of agriculture and allied activities through food processing and better storage facilities.
    Would like to participate in a big way for a clear road map for a fresh beginning. Shall get in touch with u r email.

  31. Dear Tushar & Matt,

    Let me begin by complimenting you on your brilliant effort! I tried something like this however failed miserably 😦 Now, I am trying to study the relationship between poverty/deprivation and the increasing incidence of social pathology by the poor in society. When I read your article, one fact that stayed back strong was your mention of how angry, frustrated and dejected you felt at the mere effort that needed to be put into surviving the day. I would like to talk to you a little more on the same issue. Would you be interested? Please write to me on sdsmitadakhore@gmail.com.

    Smita Dakhore

  32. Just saw your program on NDTV last night. I’m very inspired! I was wondering about the derivation of all this.. Did you guys do this just for your understanding, or are you planning to extend this further? If so, how? Also, I must say, this passes on a very nice message to the youth! You should not stop here, there are many of us ready to help you along the way!

  33. Hey Tushar…Wonder if you remembe me! It’s Abhay, your roommate for 1st year at DCE…I often wondered what you must be upto…just saw you on NDTV 24X7 with Derek o’Brian & Nikhil Dey…glad to see you doing big things! Best wishes for your endeavour 🙂

  34. Thank you guys for the courage for what you did. Hope this does lead both of you and circles around you to influence policy. I am sure this however would have changed your lives forever. Blessings.

  35. did you advise Mr. Nandan Nilekani while you worked at UIDAI.
    r u stil workin with him, wat’s the next amazing thing that you’re doin.

  36. Great work & research by this young guys.
    Here i have a concept/idea of income for every Indian.
    kindly right to me at sanjay@mainhoonindian.com

  37. Hi Tushar and Matt, I am a photographer and film-maker from New Delhi. You can know more about me and my work on http://vivekkunwar.com

    Brilliant stuff from you guys!

    I would like to create a documentary of sorts which portrays what you have experienced. I would love to discuss and explore the same. Please drop me an email on mail [at] vivekkunwar [dot] com if the idea appeals to you too !

    Warm regards,
    Vivek

  38. Hi Tushar & Matt,

    Firstly, immense respect for your effort. Now secondly, is there a way to connect with you. This is regarding a feature film that I want to work on with you guys. I am currently living in Mumbai and working with a leading media company. Please contact at shoumie.m@gmail.com. Thanks.

  39. Hi,
    I came across you experiment on Facebook. Hats off to you both.
    I am a final year Civil Engg. student, from Delhi. For past some time I am working on a thought. Its about Sustainable Rural Development. After reading the article, I thought of sharing it with you both. How can I contact you? You can also drop me a mail at saugat1991@gmail.com

    Thanks
    Regards
    Saugat Dutta

  40. Hey! Can’t believe I just found out about this amazing experiment! Went through the report too. I probably missed this detail, but what kind of work did you guys do during those four undoubtedly harrowing weeks? You mentioned meetings and such and travel, but I didn’t quite get it.

  41. Hello Tushar and Matt. I am so excited for your project, as i’d dreamed of undertaking a similar project during my law under-graduate studies. Now that i will be graduating this year, i can now realize one of my goals. Good to know my ideas were practical and many Indians and paying-it forward!

  42. Hi Tushar and Matt,

    We absolutely love your cause over here at Kilometre. We’ve written a blog on your project if you want to check it out! http://kilometreparis.com/blog/231.

    All the best,
    Meagan

  43. Hello Matt and Tushar,

    I work at NRI Samay, an online radio based from LA. We would like to interview on one of our shows.
    If interested please do send an email to brahmani.b1@gmail.com as soon as you can.

    Thank You,
    B

  44. I saw you on NDTV debating on the food bill today and absolutely admire ur efforts. Haven’t read ur report, will do that and all ur other posts as well. Hope all ur initiative does make a difference .

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