This is the seventh in a series of posts Alfred Romann will file on India.
The list of assets of Mularam Kharida, a driver in Delhi, includes but is not limited to:
– A 24-hour-a-day job as a driver (earning 3,500 rupees, or US$90, per month),
– Access to tourists that tip well,
– The ability to take said tourist to shops that tip him badly,
– A small parcel of land three hours from Delhi where the one-room home for his family of five is,
– Another piece of land in the same village where he is slowly building a new and bigger home,
– Four buffalo,
– One cow,
– His wife’s job as a kindergarten teacher in his home village (earning 1,200 rupees per month or US$30).
Mularam’s list of liabilities includes:
– About 9,000 rupees per month (US$220) in household expenses,
– School fees and expenses (uniforms and supplies) for his two dauthers, aged 18 and 16, and one son, aged 14.
– Lack of sleep (three full hours on a good night),
– Two daughters, aged 16 and 18, that will likely be married soon and require a “very expensive” dowry,
– Ongoing construction costs for his new home,
– Occasional and unexpected medical costs.
The list of things Mularam would like includes:
– Enough money to pay for his two daughters’ marriages/dowries (a few hundred thousand rupees),
– To finish his new home (another year or two),
– Constant electricity,
– A refrigerator (see above),
– Less work,
– For his entire body to hurt less,
– A few nights of uninterrupted sleep.
– Go overseas to work (“I work hard. In a few months pay for my daughter’s marriage. Pay for new house.”)
The list of things Mularam dislikes includes but is not limited to:
– People from Pakistan (“no good people”),
– The cheap three-wheeled taxis that populate the streets of India’s capital,
– People from Bangladesh,
– Coffee (tea with milk and sugar is better),
– People from Sri Lanka (“no good people),
– Chinese trinkets,
– People from the mountainous regions of the country (“no good people”),
– Beer (although rum in moderate doses is OK),
– Local tourists (they don’t tip well),
– Beggars (“Always drugs”),
– His brother in law,
– Mutton (other non-veg meals are fine).
This is not, of course, a comprehensive profile but it is not atypical of the millions of Indians that have, at best, seen marginal benefits from the country’s growth. This is the core of the customer base in the country. Of the 1.1 billion people in India, about 650 million live, more or less, like Mularam.