I've often wondered, while having a forty or fifty rupee cup of coffee at a Barista or Coffee Day, about what percent of the Indian population can afford this little indulgence. I think I've finally found a credible answer: four percent, at most. That's the percentage of the population with a daily average per capita consumption of Rs 93. The remaining 96 per cent of the one point something billion people in India are living on less than that a day, according to a report by Arjun Sengupta, Chairman of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector.
The middle class, according to Sengupta, is 19.3 percent of the population and has a daily per capita consumption of around Rs 37. The remaining 76 percent plus are living on less than this every day. They are the average Indians.
So next time you go and piss a few thousand rupees down the pub drain on one usually less-than-happy night out, remember that old joke about all the starving children. You're pissing away an amount of money that would buy a decent meal for a hungry kid somewhere.
I'm not trying to inflict guilt upon all party animals. As long as there's a bit of a social conscience somewhere - some attempt to give back to society - it's all good. A fellow who parties but finds it in his heart to give to charity or help the poor is all right in my book.
It's the utterly and haughtily self absorbed, for whom the poor are just eyesores that need to be thrown out of the city, who I find annoying. These fools do not realise what a tiny minority they are. If all those hundreds of millions of poor, hungry people were to start walking into the cities tomorrow - just walking in peacefully - they could take over the cities, and no government in India would have the capacity to stop them.
For the sake of the self absorbed rich, I hope they will not face what the French nobility faced during the revolution there.
Although that would only be fair.
A disclaimer: This does not mean I am a Leftist. The Indian Left is a bunch of hypocrites and anti-nationals who have never in their history been on the right side of anything. They did nothing for Independence, they were sympathetic to China during the 1962 war, they opposed the 1991 economic liberalisation without which we would still be standing in queues for telephone connections and chugging along at the 'Hindu rate of growth'. They are active supporters of the caste system - they do nothing to dismantle it. And as several observers have pointed out, their entire Politburo put together wouldn't win a municipal election without support from their more progressive comrades in Bengal and Kerala. They have, essentially, been part of the problem in every problem this country has ever faced.