Daily bread

Your utility bills entitlement will be Rs 3.30 lakh per annum.

No harm in doing it, just imagine your salary going up from Rs 1.78 crore to Rs 1.96 crore per annum.

That’s not all. The HRA will be up by Rs. 15 lakh to Rs 65.47 lakh a year; leave fare concession from Rs 11.15 lakh to Rs 12.26 lakh. Enough? No, wait. Your utility bills entitlement, whatever it means, will be Rs 3.30 lakh per annum.

Well, that’s what Shikha Sharma, and not you, will get as MD & CEO of Axis Bank. Congratulations to her. My own calculation is that even after seven births, that’s what I am entitled to as a Hindu, my total gross salary will not be a fraction of what that top banker will earn in a year.

But there are hundreds who are worse off than me. For example, meet this rangoli woman.

Ill-kempt and famished, shouting rangoli… in a shrill voice, she daily pedals her way from street to street carrying the white powder on a cycle rickshaw. She ekes out a living by hawking that commodity which not all households need. Yet she earns her daily bread that way. And I am puzzled.

Have you noticed those urchins picking up scrap from the road and stuffing it in the large gunny bags hanging from their shoulders? The discarded cola can, plastic bags and such other sundry items help them earn a few rupees which will take care of today’s needs.
Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is yet come.

There are hundreds of such people amid us who live from day to day and from hand to mouth. For them there is no salary, no HRA. No LTC and no utility bills entitlement either. Nor a provident fund. But every morning, rain or shine, they set out on their errand like birds that fly around looking for food. Our waste is their capital which will help them earn a meal, certainly not a square one.

Just look around. The chap who sells rat poison, balloons, cut mango or roasted ground nut or cheap plastic wear all make a living and each one of them is a puzzle to me. How do they feel secure?

Even when we were assured of a decent salary, a good working place and other perks and facilities we looked forward to the quarterly DA revision and annual bonus and still never felt fully secure. We were worried about tomorrow. Nursing a grouse against the management we felt we were being under paid and exploited. A communist in thought!
But the rangoli woman or the scrap collector or the groundnut seller has no one to blame. Nor do they curse themselves for their plight. But then where is the time for such abstract thoughts? Instead, better be on the road. That’s where their daily bread lies.

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