Couple of politicians have recently stated that in Mumbai one can eat a full meal in Rs 12 and in Delhi for as low as Rs 5. While it is laughable, it also shows how disconnected our leaders are from the reality. My thoughts went to my college days. Whenever I used to come home during the holidays I used to have interesting dialogues  with my maternal grandfather who was staying with us. However there was one statement of his which I used to find difficult to believe and today I feel sorry but used to get a bit irritated also.

He would often state that things have become very costly and then narrate how on his starting salary of Rs 5 per month he would also save a few annas.( Rs 1 was equal to sixteen annas). He had started his career in state government service in the early 1920's and retired by the early 1950's. He would then tell me how in four annas one could buy around a maund or app 20 kgs of rice and so on. In the late 1960's it all sounded so unbelievable to me. I used to smoke those days and a cigarette packet cost me around sixty paise. However I rarely contested him but respectfully heard him.

Soon I stared working, got married and started going to buy provisions in the market in the mid 1970's. I remember a 15 kg groundnut oil tin costing around sixty rupees to seventy five rupees. Dairy milk cost Rs 2 a liter. Meat used to cost Rs 10 to 12 a kilo. Petrol cost Rs 5 a liter.  I remember in 1969, I purchased petrol for putting in my scooter at ninety paise per liter and the world economies were shattered when in 1973 or 1974 the price of petrol was dramatically raised by the OPEc and petrol price in India was raised to Rs 4 point something per liter. The first class fare from my city to Mumbai was Rs 75 in 1975. One could go to a good movie theater and buy a balcony ticket for Rs 4 or 5 per person. Coca Cola in 1965 was purchased by me for the first time for thirty paise per 200 ml bottle. Also good sumptuous  masala dosa was available for 30 to 50 paise in 1965. I visited Chennai for the first time in late 1975 and was delighted to eat five idlis for only fifty paise. During my engineering college days for all the five years a plate of samosas liberally sprinkled with curd, chutney and mashed potato chips was available at fifty paise. Hot onion uttapams cost only fifty paise each.

One can go on and on. The prices then look ridiculously low when compared with today's prices. I distinctly remember eating my unlimited vegetarian dinner thalis at Rs 10 in mid 1970's. A couple of rupees more if one wanted to eat a non-veg thali.

So on what basis have these so called leaders stated that in India of 2013 one could eat a meal in five or twelve rupees that too in metro cities like Delhi or Mumbai.  It not only shows how poor is their knowledge of the markets which are frequented by the vast majority of our population but also shows their insensitivity towards the poor. As someone caustically pointed out that they actually meant not rupees but dollars as that is the currency they are far more familiar with !

However as far as I am concerned I have now taken the place of my grandfather and my sons are behaving exactly the way I used to. The moment I go back in time and start saying that the price was so and so and see where it is today, my sons start telling me-- Papa not again. My thoughts go back in time and I realize the world has moved on. However for many of our politicians it seems only they have moved on and the rest are still stuck fifty years in the past.


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