Of Doodh Doodh And Pani ka Pani

Dear Mr. Chidambaramji,

This is regarding your latest alleged remark about how the middle class doesn’t fret over spending on a ice-cream cone of Rs.20 or mineral water bottle at Rs.15 but object to one or two rupee  hike in price of rice and wheat. Party spoke person later clarified that you just wondered this aloud within the earshot of the Indian media who is ever needy-greedy for sensational quotes from you and that you addressed the middle class as ‘We middle class people’ which only portrays your humble nature. Sir, but not sure you are eligible to be part of the middle class. According to your latest asset declaration neither you nor any other cabinet minister have assets worth less than a crore and though Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia hasn’t defined the bracket for middle class people like he defined people below poverty line we assume that anyone with or above asset worth a crore wouldn’t want to be identified as middle class.

The purpose of this letter is to give you updated information on latest rates of ice-cream cones and scoops that we get in our nearest ice-cream parlor and you cannot get an ice-cream cone at Rs. 20 there. Your ignorance on the latest ice-cream rates can be quite disturbing and confusing for us because it is the various announcements from your government like new list of taxable commodities, new VAT rates, fuel hike, and so many things that affect our ice-cream prices. First it confused me how rupee devaluation or news on coalition instability hiked the price of my ice-cream cone but now I have got some gist of it……..

But I’m still willing to consider your unawareness despite you being so influential party to our economy. For ex. I don’t know the price of a cigarette pack since I don’t smoke. Similarly, you can’t be bothered about ice-cream prices if you don’t consume it at all. It’s alright, you are normal; I have seen people of more eccentric dislikes, who don’t like chocolates or mangoes. Or it could be your doctor who told you to stay away from fatty substances like ice-creams after checking your cholesterol or sugar level. My one assumption is that the ice-cream cone in the Parliament canteen still costs Rs.20. O yes, I should have guessed this before, I have heard of that. That you guys, I mean MLAs, MPs and Ministers get lot of exemptions and food allowances because you serve our country and its people and they vote you and because so many people love to vote you, you are entitled to all these privileges.

Though let me ascertain you that prices outside the Parliament canteen have been swelling quite infuriatingly. 5 to 6 years back 1 litre milk in a dairy shop would cost Rs.22 and then the prices have been like on fastest, steep roller coaster but only on an ascending ride. Today, it costs Rs. 48 per litre. We also get low cost milk varying in between Rs.32 and Rs 42 per litre. The quality of course varies according to the rates. So far I believe that milk at Rs. 48 is the best quality milk but friends from rural parts or in dairy business challenge us that we city folks don’t know the taste of unadulterated milk. We wisely never accept this challenge. They tell us that the most costly ranged milk is also somewhat adulterated with water.  We citizen don’t mind water mixing since the popular fable read in the younger days of a milkman and the monkey has subconsciously prepared us to accept that the milkman will dilute the milk for some extra bucks. However, lately the scary news we hear is that it is no milk at all. We learn on news channel that it is mixing of some two dangerous sounding chemicals that produce milk like substance. The news channels tell about a milk mafia caught by the food inspection department which only leaves us paranoid about the other gangs at large.

Now honestly, I do know about a Rs. 20 ice cream cone. I didn’t put that before because I’m sure you never had it. I have been thinking that if I was a manufacturer of ice-creams I couldn’t have afforded selling an ice-cream cone at Rs. 20 after purchasing milk at say the least price of Rs. 32 per litre. And so I have been linking these ice-cream cones to the above news on news channels and only then I can understand how it can be economical. Yesterday, I also saw glasses of lassis  being sold on the railway station platform at Rs. 5 each. Again I started doing the math which has been my weakest subject. You might find it funny how much time I spend on calculation at the vegetable stall when the seller quotes that the green capsicum is Rs.50 kilo and all I need is pav kilo. It becomes all the more complicated when the green capsicum is Rs. 55 per kg and simpler to divide when it is Rs. 60 per kg though then I prefer opting for some other veggie. Sorry, I digressed.

Sir, now coming to talk of mineral water, kudos to your sharp observation about our growing fascination for the packaged water and that we without argument are ready to pay the accelerated rates. Honorable home minister, since you are known as intellectual personality, a minority class in the political India, you must have known it all the time that the water we call mineral is simply  processed and purified water and it doesn’t contain any kind of minerals. Unlike me, who learned this fact some few years back when drinking mineral water wasn’t so common for common people. Then we used to boil the water for 20 minutes. This latest fad for mineral water is because we middleclass have become very lazy. Also that boiling water for 20 minutes means added daily consumption of gas, cost of which too has doubled in last 5-6 years. To top that, we panic easily when we hear of gas cylinder shortages. So we think that the ‘mineral’ water bottle is still affordable as we also take into account the medicinal cost and doctor fees lest we fall ill after drinking the tap water directly.

Dear home minister, I thought that we middle class owed you an explanation on our wayward behavior and that why we are so unlike the ideal middle class of 70’s. We also realize that we have become very demanding people and started using terms like accountability from political class which you all find very cynical. But unfortunately there is no going back now just like you don’t expect from us to expect 70’s price rates. Welcome to the new age which will bemuse you further about the middle class indulgence on many more luxurious commodities if only to breathe out the depression created by the morning newspaper reporting the latest land scam or a certain minister out from the jail on bail and heading to participate in the parliamentary proceedings.

Thanking You


Not so great Indian Middle Class


8 thoughts on “Of Doodh Doodh And Pani ka Pani

  1. Dear Mrudula, I think we are going way over on this statement of the minister. The fact is we do not bother about bigger expenses like spending rs 2000 on a cinema trip once in a whine and justifiably so. You have not considered the salaries of middle class that has gone up from the 70s to the present one. During that time and even earlier a four figure salary was considered to be a princely sum and marriage market for such persona was quite high. Remember the person was the sole bread winner for the family.. Now the minimum salary has gone up to Rs 10000 for middle class and even a raw graduate gets more than 25,000 per month. paying a single rupee for a kilogram of wheat paying not more than additional 20 paise for a meal. And what is 20 paise per meal? No one is going ti lift a 25 paise or a 20 paise coin from the floor. The beggars have stopped accepting 1 re. coin and one cannot fill air for 1 Re for one tyre or even a bicycle wheel.. Think on those lines and you might feel that there is some meaning to the statement of the minister. Coming from a minister it might not be palatable to many since it has come from a minister,but let us all think of those poor farmer who might get an additional 50 paise per Kg of wheat and prevent at least one suicide it wil bring cheers for us. At least that is my view.

    • Mr. Home minister just gave me an excuse to write this post. For long I have been worried about the quality of milk and water we get today no matter how much we are ready to pay. We have lot of money today but we still cant buy higher education, decent accomodation, medical expences, clean water, healthy food and pure milk. All our money is directed to spend on daily needs and we can hardly plan a good future. The salaries have increased but ask people earning from 10k to 25k how much they can save at the end of the month. We indulge in spending at multiplexes and restaurants mostly because to avoid this stress. It is strange that spending on luxurious commodities is very easy for middle class and basic needs are going out of reach. Something very wrong.

  2. Once again a very good read. It is really a very stupid statement, a very irresponsible one. something like ‘you r eating cake when you cant afford the bread’. But you need the cake sometimes you know. Bread, whether you afford it or not, you have to buy it becoz its basic necessity. Indulgence is something which man has done in every era, and he needs it for a healthy mental life.

    • Bang on Vidya, politicians today are really not in sink with ground realities and can see very outer layer of lifestyle of people.Inside people are living with feeling of insecurity. Only if they werent protected with so many allowances (even after they retire) they would know at the time of preparing budgets where it pinches most.

  3. I also thought of the same sentence by Mary Antoinette. I think unless you stop giving freebies to the politicians, they will not realize the impact of inflation. Keep their allowances intact but let them first buy everything in cash and then claim reimbursement. It will make money go out of their hands first and that is the only way they will feel what we all go thro. Do you think Mrs Manmohansingh or Mrs Monteksingh or Mrs Chidambaram have ever gone to the market and bought anything on cash?
    Let the money slip out of hands and you will know.

    • Hi Uncle,
      I just visualised your comment. Mrs Manmohan Singh mad at her husband on latest budget. And Mr. Manmohansingh responding as usual, without a single word. ha ha. Only if the budget affected their lives.

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