Saturday, May 12, 2012

Value of 400 Rupees

Other day I was purchasing vegetables in the local market. It was too hot. I saw one middle aged lady with sunglasses on her eyes, she was wearing a skirt which was trying to cover half of her legs and one dog was with her. She was bargaining for 2-3 rupees with vegetable vendor.  It was amusing, the lady must be feeding atleast 200 rupees food to that dog. But she is not ready to spend extra 2 rupees to that vendor. 2 rupees  means a lot to that vendor but not to a lady. 

Few days back in the morning I opened the freeze to take some milk for tea. I saw a vegetable is somewhat rotten. I took it and about to throw in the bin. My maid asked me, “Bhaiya mai use ghar le jaun?” I did not have words to anwer and I was literally ashamed. Many times it happen the sweet we bring to home and after 5-6 days if nobody is eating then we give to maid. Are they born to eat a waste thrown by people like us?
At a larger level, do we deserve all the riches what we have around us? Is it just a plain luck that we were born into circumstances that allowed us to build a life of comfort? What makes the other half any less deserving?
If one want to understand the poverty then just be a silent observer. Many times we see the people who are collecting the plastic bags from roadside dumped garbage hoping they will earn atleast 100 rupees. You will find them in all the seasons of the year. At the traffic signal we will find beggars. Go to remote location and have a chat with farmer in Vidarbha of Maharashtra.

 We have tea on the roadside but never ask him how much he earns and where he stays. We are surrounded with lot of examples. Go to government hospital and stand in the long queues to get the treatment. One will understand what the poverty is.

How does it make difference if India will get the seat in the UNO's Security Council, What difference it has made to such a people when India won the first ever gold in the Olympic, when India won the world cup, if India has Nuclear weapons and when Priyanka Chopra won the miss world??

I am Maharastrian, worked in Bangalore, working in Gurgaon. So closely came in contact with all kind and people from all states of India. I am working in the software company and always messed up with code, bug fixing, design doc, testing, issues, and meeting. We always end up in seeing the upper middle class or high class societies, living in the posh areas of the city. We always see the people in the shopping malls, big restaurants, BMW, Honda City, flight, Bar, Pub etc. Boundary of Life is just wake up in the morning, have breakfast, go to office, work- work, come back to home, have food sleep and start thinking about next day. My mind is scared to think beyond the office life, cigar, boozing, aspiration, onsite. I have lost in my own life such that no time for becoming the reason for somebody else's smile.

Few years back I had been to trekking with friends in jungle near Bangalore. Awesome trees, one could hear the rustling of leaves, see flocks of antelopes, small river.... After fun packed day we wanted a place to spend night. There was only one government guest house in that jungle and apart from that there was no other means to stay. We went by our own vehicle to jungle. Gust house guys denied the accommodation for us, due to unavailability of rooms. Infact they did not give us food also. After 6 we can’t come out of that jungle. The biggest help from those guys was they allowed us to park our cab in guest house compound. We had to sleep in cab only (with the permission of guest house administrator and incharge forest officer) throughout the night. Only one home was there near to guest house, the people from that home were chef in that guest house. We were hungry. I requested them to provide food for us and told them we are ready to pay any amount. They prepared food for us in that hut. We had food and that guy charged only 40 rupees per person. He told me that sir we cooked food for you, but daily we our self don’t get such a food. My brain became numb. Probably it was one of the best meals we've ever had, packed with massive amounts of love from our hosts. However, each bite was a sad reminder of the harsh reality that there are more than 400 million people in our country for whom such a meal will remain a dream for quite some time. Dumbstruck, I left that home with a sheepish look. I spent the following week thinking long and hard about what that person tried to convey.

There is one middle aged person in my hometown. He is not lucky to have anybody in his family. Wife eloped, lost his mother, brother is drunkard and not staying with him. Barely he earn 50rupees in a day. Whenever I go to hometown he meets me. One day he met and I gave him 400 rupees. I could see tears in his eyes. He said me with this money he will buy one shirt, dhoti which will last for one year. I was literally shocked. Started thinking, that I can’t buy two pairs of hanky and two pairs of socks in 400 rupees. That person understands the value of 400 rupees. Probably I am not.

Every morning such a people are unsure whether they will be able to afford two meals for the day. It disturbs us to spend money on most of the things that we now consider excesses.
Generally I discuss the issue with so called corporates and middle class buddies. Most of the people suggested that providing education might be a good solution, but with a hungry stomach, how can a child focus on education. Foreign aids are also not helping our country because of the illegitimate governments.
We are brainwashed by Bollywood/Cricket/Media....etc. Hardly have we time to think about the bottom line.

We have to find a root cause. Provide a free food to the kids of labours. They will come to school. Government has started the mid-day meal plan for primary school student. But need to think is it reaching to needy. If it is then what’s the quality. Most of the labours in the building construction thinks that If he will put his kid to construction site for work then he can earn extra 100 rupees per day. So why should he send them to school. They work 6 month in one city and for next 6 months they themselves don’t know where they will be. So how they should manage their education of their kids.

We need to do something. I don’t know from where to start. There can be lot of ways. I am sure many of us are contributing by one or other way. I am also. But simply donating the money doesn’t work. We need to spare some time. Need to come out of our AC office, Bug, Design, Onsite, Dollar, Euros. I have many friends who tell me that I had been to Lap dance, Pole Dance in Vegas and spent 20 Dollar for 5 Mins. But same friend thinks 100 times to spend 1 dollar on hungry kid.

Only Education can change this. Corruption has to go, rich has to become selfless and the big chunk of middle class needs to open their heart and mind for a better tomorrow.

There are times I lose hope and think that this is all I can do. Then comes something like the person Stephan Waugh (The Australian cricket ace opened the Udayan for NGO for girls in Kolkata), which tells me that I can't give up hope, and all of us can do something and should do something and there is no choice about.
As an individual we cannot help a lot of people, but collectively we can achieve many things. Please everyone think about this matter deeply and put our efforts into action. Hope we change our nation's poverty scenario and bring cheer and light into everyone's life.

I am exploring the possibility of what I can do with my education, wealth (!!!) and experience that can narrow the divide even a tiny bit. Idea may be anything. One can adopt a poor student, take a responsibility of the patient who can’t afford the medicines, give time in orphanage etc. I am not saying to cut down your comfort level. But allocate some space of your heart to such people.

Good Luck to all of those who have made it part of their calling in life.