Opinion » Columns » Harsh Mander

Updated: February 17, 2012 12:17 IST

Barefoot - The other side of life

Harsh Mander
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LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE: Matt (left) and Tushar. Photo courtesy: RS100ADAY.COM
LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE: Matt (left) and Tushar. Photo courtesy: RS100ADAY.COM

Can anyone really live on Rs. 26 a day, the income of the officially poor in rural India? Two youngsters try it out.

Late last year, two young men decided to live a month of their lives on the income of an average poor Indian. One of them, Tushar, the son of a police officer in Haryana, studied at the University of Pennsylvania and worked for three years as an investment banker in the US and Singapore. The other, Matt, migrated as a teenager to the States with his parents, and studied in MIT. Both decided at different points to return to India, joined the UID Project in Bengaluru, came to share a flat, and became close friends.

The idea suddenly struck them one day. Both had returned to India in the vague hope that they could be of use to their country. But they knew the people of this land so little. Tushar suggested one evening — “Let us try to understand an ‘average Indian', by living on an ‘average income'.” His friend Matt was immediately captured by the idea. They began a journey which would change them forever.

To begin with, what was the average income of an Indian? They calculated that India's Mean National Income was Rs. 4,500 a month, or Rs. 150 a day. Globally people spend about a third of their incomes on rent. Excluding rent, they decided to spend Rs. 100 each a day. They realised that this did not make them poor, only average. Seventy-five per cent Indians live on less than this average.

The young men moved into the tiny apartment of their domestic help, much to her bemusement. What changed for them was that they spent a large part of their day planning and organising their food. Eating out was out of the question; even dhabas were too expensive. Milk and yoghurt were expensive and therefore used sparingly, meat was out of bounds, as were processed food like bread. No ghee or butter, only a little refined oil. Both are passionate cooks with healthy appetites. They found soy nuggets a wonder food — affordable and high on proteins, and worked on many recipes. Parle G biscuits again were cheap: 25 paise for 27 calories! They innovated a dessert of fried banana on biscuits. It was their treat each day.

Restricted life

Living on Rs.100 made the circle of their life much smaller. They found that they could not afford to travel by bus more than five km in a day. If they needed to go further, they could only walk. They could afford electricity only five or six hours a day, therefore sparingly used lights and fans. They needed also to charge their mobiles and computers. One Lifebuoy soap cut into two. They passed by shops, gazing at things they could not buy. They could not afford the movies, and hoped they would not fall ill.

However, the bigger challenge remained. Could they live on Rs. 32, the official poverty line, which had become controversial after India's Planning Commission informed the Supreme Court that this was the poverty line for cities (for villages it was even lower, at Rs. 26 per person per day)?

Harrowing experience

For this, they decided to go to Matt's ancestral village Karucachal in Kerala, and live on Rs. 26. They ate parboiled rice, a tuber and banana and drank black tea: a balanced diet was impossible on the Rs. 18 a day which their briefly adopted ‘poverty' permitted. They found themselves thinking of food the whole day. They walked long distances, and saved money even on soap to wash their clothes. They could not afford communication, by mobile and internet. It would have been a disaster if they fell ill. For the two 26-year-olds, the experience of ‘official poverty' was harrowing.

Yet, when their experiment ended with Deepavali, they wrote to their friends: “Wish we could tell you that we are happy to have our ‘normal' lives back. Wish we could say that our sumptuous celebratory feast two nights ago was as satisfying as we had been hoping for throughout our experiment. It probably was one of the best meals we've ever had, packed with massive amounts of love from our hosts. However, each bite was a sad reminder of the harsh reality that there are 400 million people in our country for whom such a meal will remain a dream for quite some time. That we can move on to our comfortable life, but they remain in the battlefield of survival — a life of tough choices and tall constraints. A life where freedom means little and hunger is plenty...

Plenty of questions

It disturbs us to spend money on most of the things that we now consider excesses. Do we really need that hair product or that branded cologne? Is dining out at expensive restaurants necessary for a happy weekend? At a larger level, do we deserve all the riches we have around us? Is it just plain luck that we were born into circumstances that allowed us to build a life of comfort? What makes the other half any less deserving of many of these material possessions, (which many of us consider essential) or, more importantly, tools for self-development (education) or self-preservation (healthcare)?

We don't know the answers to these questions. But we do know the feeling of guilt that is with us now. Guilt that is compounded by the love and generosity we got from people who live on the other side, despite their tough lives. We may have treated them as strangers all our lives, but they surely didn't treat us as that way...”

So what did these two friends learn from their brief encounter with poverty? That hunger can make you angry. That a food law which guarantees adequate nutrition to all is essential. That poverty does not allow you to realise even modest dreams. And above all — in Matt's words — that empathy is essential for democracy.


Pensions in the marginsMarch 23, 2013

First, let me appreciate young Tushar and Matt for trying to
experience what it feels like to stay for one month on Just Rs 100 or
less like over 400 million people stay.

I think we have failed as a society, if all these people have to worry
about having only food on their plate. Not have any alternatives other
than staying hungry if they fall sick.

The only way forward is to create a society were people will get equal

from:  Anand Bhairat
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 13:03 IST

Most people who live lives of deprivation also have to work to make the Rs 26 or 32 a day which Tushar & Matt did not have to. Besides, both knoew that at month-end their ordeal would end. The people who live these desperate lives mostly have no hope that it would ever end, even with NREGA and other Govt. sponsored schemes.

from:  Sreekumar
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 11:28 IST

must we stop marketing greed and infuse creed, a sense of responsibility, and we must remember all of us were born stark naked with no levis , armani, tommy on our body, infact we will even leave this world shedding or burning these brands . so why such ruckus about worldly pleasure . must we live for our values compassion . we are going to loose nothing by sharing instead the pleasure of giving is immense.

from:  rameshwar
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 10:34 IST

Ground Reality

from:  mukund
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 10:01 IST

It is quite evident from above chaps that, mere earning Rs. 26 or so cannot meet our hunger leave aside education, health and sanitation. It should be treated as a wake up call to the democratically elected govt. and it should understand that, it is its paramount importance to provide basic amenities and bring a concrete policy that alleviates the poverty.

from:  Sanjay Patil
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 09:51 IST

Wonderful and it is only real Achievement in LIFE by this Young Guys in our Indian Economy...Will atleast some of our Politicians and Milioniers change their attitude after read this ????

from:  Krishnan
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 09:48 IST

The simple imagination that the "harrowing experience" of Matt and Tushar is everyday life of majority of the Indians is sending shivers down the spine. It is time the political leaders at the helm, irrespective of their benches, realise the reality before the hunger further divides our society.

from:  Ramasesha Rao
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 08:53 IST

This practicable experiment if practiced enmasse, the living standard at
Rs.26/- a day can be realized. One needs to observe & adopt the
practices of austere people instead of imitating the people at higher

from:  bhanumurthi
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 05:38 IST

For all good intentions, UID is going to be the worst project on the individuals of the nation - its a weapon in the hands of politicians to make themselves more powerful - by offering freebies to their target market, by adding incentives to promote their agenda, against free market by deciding what people should buy and use and what they deserve and dont deserve, creates croony capitalists by helping their aides become the suppliers of the govt schemes and therefore against freedom of individuals. Overall, the UID will increase costs on tax payers and govts will keep spending more than ever. Rather than transfering power and strength to local govts - this will lead to a more strong centralised govt and a feudal kind of setup. People should demand less regulations and less begging if they want to be free.

from:  sharath
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 05:20 IST

What an attitude man!! I have lived that kind of life for 23 years and I totally understand it means. It's very hard to live in that much of income. I can not describe in words it's just a feeling. Especially when big occasion comes like wedding or somebody die then it becomes very huge problem. You borrow money from someone and how will you pay it? Never! That's why they get poor and more poor after that they never get rid of it.

from:  manoj
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 03:14 IST

Really a touching material to read. so while reading this one thing keep coming to my mind is, people who studied at government expenses and trying to settle in abroad and keep telling that indis doesn;t offer anything to their talent, they should think for a moment that, their government school teacher is paid salary which comes from the tax revenue collected from these poor people thro sales tax, bus charge, electricity bill etc. so we should try to chnage the system and do whatever we can back to the country apart from shouting at politicians, instead of trying to get the citizenship of other country.

from:  senthil kannan
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 00:51 IST

The poverty stricken face of quite visible...a pathetic feeling comes even while going through yours experiences..

from:  Shishir
Posted on: Feb 17, 2012 at 00:27 IST

I was at a wedding last night and was thinking if it was really necessary to feed upper-middle class and rich overweight people with various ailments like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc., and spend lakhs of rupees on the decorations, catering (italian, chinese, north-indian, south-indian
cusines, chats, fruits, ice-creams, paans,etc) when a Wedding Ceremony is really about 2 people taking vows in the company of family and friends to spend the rest of their lives together. This article should be an eye-opener for the millions of Indians who spend recklessly on gifts, perfumes, goggles, clothes - thinks they can really do without - and give at least part of the money to someone who really needs it for medicines, children's education, clothes, etc. We need not give to some charity or a trust. Look around you - there are so
many who are too scared or too proud to ask for help. Reach out to them. God bless the two young men who brought out the article.

from:  Nanda Gopal
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 23:05 IST

Change comes only when we go through all the pain! this article today made me realise how many unnecessary things i ve paid for and still not satisfied!..may be i should go through the same path to realise the very meaning of life..thanks to both of you and i will do this next time i visit india! hope i will survive!

from:  harikanth
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 21:16 IST

The most celebrated economists of our country, Dr Manmohan Singh and Dr
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, should emulate these youngsters for a month. If
they do it, then our country is sure to have a good leadership and a
sound economic policy that favours the poor.

from:  Ganpat
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 20:09 IST

That's a normal Indian mentality. We can donate lakhs of rupees in temple,though God doesn't ask himself any money. But when a poor child asks,we simply ignore him. Think about microfinance companies, they charge over 29% interest from poor people.We Indians wont mind driving expensive cars,but we are the first one to ask for 'Subsidies' on Petrol.We can go to watch movies in Multiplex,but we start crying when Oil ministry ask for increase on Cylinder.We should now see how these kind of policies has brought misfortune to Greece and we should try our level best not to give this debt legacy to next generation. The amount specified by MMS is low.32 rs. no one can survive,but this fact politicians don't know.It's disheartening to see from past 65 years, elections are fought on same issues Food,Cloth and Shelter but no concrete steps taken yet.But now instead of blaming system, we all have to take responsbility to try our level best to eradicate poverty.

from:  Swapnil
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 20:06 IST

salute to both the guys & shame on plng cmsn...........

from:  neeru
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 19:49 IST

The world would be a better place for all when we stop equating success with how many material things we have and instead think of success as how many people we have helped.

from:  Kedar Gidh
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 18:39 IST

The great thanks to Harsha Mander, for detecting this worst face of Indian Govt. Its really painful for human beings.
We are so far from What Dr. Abdul Kalam's Dream About India in 2020...!

from:  Girimalla
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 18:32 IST

The real realizations comes when one experience ourselves, hope that the two guys will try to help the country in eradication of poverty

from:  Motup
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 17:38 IST

The problem of poverty, is both a moral issue and an aconomic issue controlled by politics and law makers. The rich, even if very kind hearted and concerned can not go about feedin the poor randomely. Remember 'giving fish to the hungry does not end hunger, teaching them to fish is the solution.' Yet moral and ethical and spiritual inclination of the politicians, and law makers, is the most important aspect of solving the poverty problem. Taxing the rich, limiting the wealth line, making the pverty line much much muuuuch higher, worying about the people they represent rather than their bank accounrs and next election, making education and not millitary expenditure the highest priority in the national budget, having a system of government assitance for those who cant work, are disabled, orphanned, etc. part of the national budget, and many more usful laws to safeguard the dignity and rights of all, will surely aleviate the plight of the poor. Nasrin,a Baha'i,Madagascar.Love Indians

from:  Nasrin E Boroumand
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 17:34 IST

Gutsy youngsters...youthful vigour with a discerning eye and vision with
ability to discriminate wisely..congrats to both of you...surely now of
the economists in the Planning Commissionor MPs/MLA can replicate this

from:  Praveen Vaid
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 17:25 IST

Hope the government takes time out from scams and read this...

from:  supriya
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 17:09 IST

Matt and Tushar thank you for holding a mirror to those who measure the experience of poverty through their logic. You have also given dignity to the poor by sharing with us their power to share and to be joyful.

from:  Cyril Dias
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 17:06 IST

"Do we really need that hair product or that branded cologne? Is dining out at expensive restaurants necessary for a happy weekend?"

Think about those who make a living by producing, marketing, and selling those branded products. Think of the whole chain of hierarchy that is involved in running an expensive restaurant, from the farmer to fruit/vegetable vendor to the cook/chef to the cleaner, to the manager. In fact, as strange it may sound, indulging in these kind of comfort, in the end, may the best way to help the society.

from:  Padmakumar Rao
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 16:59 IST

At last we seem to observe the beginnings of an onset of a proactive generation who read, think and act without being prompted to do so by a society. This is not the first of its kind that I have come across in the recent past.Surely a signs of the times that we need to look forward to.

from:  K B Das
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 16:53 IST

This is an experimental and practical answer to the Govt. and Montek Singh Ahluwaliah. Atleast they need to be proactive in what they ammend or pass the bill. Hope they will do so.

from:  Shashidhar J
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 16:01 IST

thanks for breathing life into statistics which our planners bandy
around.maybe somebody will forward this article to the mandarins of
the planning comission,requesting them to revisit their BPL
parameters.wonderful job done by these young men.i too will feel
queasy,at least for the next few gourmet meals-the article touched a
raw nerve.thanks

from:  manmohan
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 15:58 IST

What has been missed in most of the comments is the fact that Rs.26 per day is part of the family income and in all families living in the conditions described the effort is to thrive on family income where each member contributes to the kitty and together they subsist in total harmony unlike the well to do brethren in urban areas who are beset with problems of ego and intolerance of each other's attitudes and finding it difficult to live together with the convenient excuse of wanting to enjoy privacy and freedom of action.
There is a strong case for fostering relationship under one roof with members of the joint family being a source of comfort for each other. Money cannot buy sweetness and light. Ultimately it is how money is spent which decides the level of comfort more in the mind than physical.

from:  R.Vijaykumar
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 15:23 IST

Great experiment from the youngsters and great that they had hit upon
such idea and had the guts and wits sustain it for a period of time. Our
netas should adopt this as a novel means of protest then doing book
hartals or other form of protests

from:  manirangan
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 14:33 IST

First of all hats off to these two guys. Will definitely be an
inspiration to a lot of us. Hope decisions taken in the future by the
planning commission or public servants for any policy would not be
arbitrary and instead taken by doing research and analysis. Although the
right to food act is a necessity we need to device a strategy only where
the deserving are benefited. Also simultaneously educate and provide opportunities where they can make it on their own.

from:  Harsha Vardhan C
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 14:29 IST

Hi Matt and tushar: I wont speak for masses but will definitely speak for myself.
"Been there and done that", I come from somewhere there what you guys experienced. My life is always guided by distinguishing between essential and non essential. Though I doubt I'm helping anyone on the other side. Thanks a lot for reminding, and I'll plan to do whatever I can. I believe my country played an important role in getting me well educated, with which I'm enjoying on the better side.
Honestly, I don't really need government, if i want to do something for people on other side, and if I'll do it right, I know I wont be alone for long. Best and good luck.

from:  Sarvoday
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 14:18 IST

I tried splitting the Rs 26 or Rs 32 into the essential components (food, clothes, shelter). I found it very tough to allocate to the food component itself. Its incomprehensible how 26 is enough for even survival, leave alone sustenance.

from:  Rufus
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 13:23 IST

Well the way the whole experience was written felt as if it was us who were part of that, the writing was so damn emotionally expressive I wonder how the experience would have created an impression on the guys who experienced it. Well the most critical thing is what they experienced for a month is experienced by the people for lives and not just by them but also for their families too. There is lot to do for this country, hope people like them and we would really join hands for this work.

from:  Deepak Singh
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 13:09 IST

Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Manmohan Singh should be made to live on "poverty level" subsistence for one month. If they survive the ordeal hopefully they will have a better idea about what priorities our nation should follow - growth in GDP at any cost (including selling the nation to big business )or welfare of all.

from:  Sujit Patwardhan
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 12:59 IST

Matt and Tushar - good work. Now you have realised how our fellow indians are surviving.

from:  ratan kumar
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 12:50 IST was a brave experiment, I would think twice before doing such thing. Some people talk about guilt. Guilt for what? This we can only associate with the destiny, what were we born as. Today if I have enough money to enjoy my life, I will....and there is no guilt in it as long as I also wish to contribute towards society. We have had so many articles of such kind in the past. What is the output of such experiments, just the realizations and we will go back to our work, thinking what we can do. Actually everybody knows everything, but do we have the attitude to change it all over, the system. Until we can plan it and work in that direction, there is absolutely no use of such articles, because the realization is not enough to chage someone's life.

from:  Abhijeet Karkare
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 12:24 IST

The ingenious idea of 'Self Deprivation' conceived by the two friends should be emulated by the chairman, deputy chairman, planning commission. They should try and live by earning Rs. 32 per day to justify their definition of poverty line, which they have fixed for the whole country.

from:  Jiko Linggi
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 11:51 IST

I wish, out of thousands of our politicians and so called HIGH CLASS
people, read about this experiment by Indian youth. Among those i
wish, at least few hundreds feel the guilt and among those few hundred
people, at least one person attempts doing such experiment for at
least couple of days. Things will change..
I am very glad to know that two young fellow of my generation decided
to spend their few days in such poor condition just to understand the
Indian poor man !!! Amazing and commendable !!

from:  Tejal
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 11:32 IST

I read it with tears in my eyes, bleeding in my heart. I was born into the same unfortunate circle of life in Burma (a bit better). My struggle was all in vain because of what surrounded me, it was a great limitation for being poor. We have to be poor to know what poverty means. Matt & Tushar knew, and decided to really taste it for themselves. You are very brave! China was also at that stage many years back. Owe to the autocratic policy which broke through barriers to reduce population, reduce poverty, increase middle class. Now China can afford to entertain democracy for being the world 2nd largest economy.

from:  Stephen Ho
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 11:16 IST

To have thought about trying out poverty living itself shows concern to
know the reality. Every youngster needs to be given a camp of this sort
during vacations to realise themselves. There could be programs with
trip to villages to get the real feel of eking out a living. Great
lessons of values, conservation, improvisation, and sharing can be

from:  Bharathi Vaidyanathan
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 10:52 IST

Dear Mr.Nagesh,: Government hospitals are wonderful in this country and i wonder have you ever been to any for simple may get medicine for HIV free of cost but hospital people won't even look at your side if you are shivering from 100 degree fever and standing in a long queue there. First take the pain of visiting a rural health center (?!)to know the real picture.
Ration cards?!! yeah, there may be places where people get at least their rice and wheat through that shops,but have a reality check my dear friend, you can see lands within ur welfare state where those shops remain closed for months,plz don't suggest further bureaucratic steps of complaining! And you are suggesting of LPG too where ppl can't even get kerosene. Dear man, before making statements have a reality check, if you go by schemes, this may be a heaven for poor!whatever may be this guy's intention, You better open up your eyes to see that what is in paper is not reality, try to know your nation.

from:  Gopika.G.G
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 10:44 IST

Dear Tushar, Matt: It would have been really tough for you to sustain there as you have lived the life in altogether different world. The world you have experimented with is nothing less then a ZOO for the world you have come from. Your experiment is being noticed whereas the state experiment with them is being indifferently ignored. Dr. Binayak Sen explain this situation as Largest Mass Murder through Malnourishment, where starvation death may make news but half fed bellies struggling with chronic fatigue and severe anemia does not qualify to be news. It is good to sympathize to make oneself better human being but it is empathy that can help to make the world respectfully livable.
Let your empathy explore the ways.

from:  Daljit Ami
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 10:28 IST

We seem to ignore that food is need based. There are regions where people subsist eating puffed rice with curd or wheat pancakes or chapathis with a single onion or chilli. As aspirations grow needs also grow. Everyone starts behaving like the proverbial Queen of England who asked the populace to eat cake if they do not have bread.
Human adaptability to given conditions is infinite. It is the demonstration effect of having to live up to the Jones which makes everyone greedy and unable to subsist on what is available. It is here Gandhiji's personal example of simple living and high thinking becomes difficult to emulate. The Planning Commission's calculation therefore should not be considered as absolute applicable to the entire country. A farmer living in tropical India drinking toddy to keep his vigour cannot be compared to a tribal in Arunachal Pradesh imbibing the rice brew in a cold environment full of mountainous terrain. One standard for the country is not on!

from:  R.Vijaykumar
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 10:25 IST

One important point is both of u knew u would be out of this "experiment" in a couple of months but for the rest they know they are stuck with 100/- or 35/- per day forever !! Now that can kill the soul .
We all should do our sacrifices in whatever proportions possible to strive towards a society where money and wealth is equally disposed and are not the priority for that society's classification .

from:  sunil mysore
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 10:03 IST

I am really humbled by reading this article. I salute these two young gentlemen. I hope and pray their experiment will not go waste. We have a country where we certainly have lot of thinkers and planners among us. We need to come out of our closets and start doing something really meaningful to all our people who are so dear to us. We do not need to think and talk and explore only about sufferings around us instead why can't we all take a vow that every day let me do at least one good thing to someone other than me. We blame our neighbours, we blame our education system, we blame our political system, we blame our rulers and if we could not find anyone we blame the creator. Why blame others? Why not we do some good to others – I thought this is what we all learned from our so called education. Also gatherings, speeches and demonstrationsis are not the solution for all the problems. As I said before let us silently take this vow that each one us would do good to someone each day

from:  S V PRASAD
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 09:22 IST

I appreciate the effort they took.Indian youth should wake up. But more
than reading this and simply sitting back, we have to follow them by avoiding unnecessary luxuries.

from:  Tom
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 09:16 IST

I wonder a small flint struck on iron has made a large fire like this - response in people from all walks of life. Good. Many will forget the article and dip their heads in the routine. The gifts from ration cards or the relief from Govt and the treatment given in the Govt hospitals can not make the poor rich but keep them contented. So many noble men were born and serve the community. Everyone can not become a Buddha, Jesus or Gandhi, Mother Terassa etc., At least people will understand the reality and live a contented life without enriching themselves at the cost of others. It will be a help to the humanity.

from:  V.Subramanian
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 08:05 IST

It is sad that of the 1 billion people that live in the country, a startling majority lives in such poverty stricken conditions. Today, if every well to do, above average family decided to help out a single family below the poverty line, I believe it would drastically change the scene.

from:  Bansi
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 05:37 IST

2 douchebags came from US for an 'Adventure' to live the life of poor Indian people. They try it out for a little bit, get their 'high' of the adventure they had and go back to lead their normal life!! and we here sit and read through all this thinking what great work they did?? whats wrong with you people.. they made a mockery of the poor people..

from:  sunny
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 04:02 IST

This is one of the most inspiring things I have read about in a long while. I feel exactly the same way but haven't had the courage to do what these two did. I just hope this does not fade away in public memory and strong action is taken either by the Government or civil society to alleviate the condition of the poorest

from:  Radhika Maloo
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 03:53 IST

here we are, never content with our lives and always thinking of
spending money in many ways, on the other hand 75% of our population is
living on money that you would think that it is change for you and has
no value...
guys you have done a wonderful research and opened many eyes hopefully
and change the attitude of many Indians and drive them to be more
compassionate..say no to consumerism...

from:  bharath reddy
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 03:47 IST

Set up something like the Peace Corps to be done within the country. Make it worth a semester of college to perform in this Corps. And for one of the Corp options include teaching in schools that are specifically for poor children. Do NOT allow anyone to buy their way through the program; they must participate. This will expose those in better circumstances to see what life is like for those struggling, as well as make actual improvements for the poor that will help them throughout life.

from:  DK Jacob
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 03:04 IST

Only if you stay for few years in America or any developed country and think about India you will realize the severity of poverty in India. Something similar I was done already by a journalist in economic times Mumbai.

from:  prasbad
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 02:16 IST

Govt should think all these and regulate the constitution norms which is below par. Corruption can be eradicated by severe punishments like sealing of the entire family accounts and properties for 10 years. After 10 years, the corrupted people can retain their properties/shares/accounts by paying 70% of their value to government. Politicians - can never contest elections and their family members can never contest for next 20 years. These impositions will automatically change the path of the nation towards good democracy and economically too. No quoto systems - whoever deserves should be awarded. My thoughts - not sure how may of them agree!

from:  Nanda
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 01:43 IST

Congratulations Matt and Tushar for this unique practical experiment that you have both conducted.India must be the only country in which there is a tremendous gap between the have's and the have not's.It will take Einstein to understand how planning comission derived at the equation Povertyline =Rs 32 /Day .

from:  Mahesh Parab
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 01:34 IST

Its interesting to see how so many people blame the government for this.
Here is an easy way to help. I think only social entrepreneurship can
help save this country. See how a simple website is making a change
without asking for money and you can help by just clicking at

from:  Ganesh Iyer
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 01:28 IST

Lived as a super tramp for a week. there is nothing serious in this experiment, may be it's an eye opener for two firangs. but we know Rs 26 per day is a joke and we are really pissed off with the system. Hope India sees another revolution soon or this country will go to dogs..

from:  Abhishek Anand
Posted on: Feb 16, 2012 at 01:10 IST

Great job!! Lot of us think about doing things that will help our
community, but there is always a resistance to start. This article helped to break the resistance and start doing, My contribution starts
PS:This article is another reason to stay with Hindu :)

from:  Jegadesh
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 23:00 IST

Appreciate the effort to actually experience the poverty...but it leaves me with one how do we eradicate this...more job opportunities and employment opportunities can only help rather than mere donations.

from:  shalini
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 22:41 IST

I think these two guys have taken the first step. thats empathy and far better than sympathy. Govt has taken enough steps to erradicate poverty it is individuals who need to self motivate themselves to raise their living standards. To expain in detail Govt have given subcidy for rice, free education for students, some reservation for students from rural area, medical insurance and further more some employment schemes where in if people involve they could minimum earn 3000 bugs per month. So its all about the morale and self esteem that brings mankind to this level. Who ever lacks it will have to remain below poverty line. No one can eat for others. survival of the fittest is the universal theory applicable in this world. If you dont fight out you may have to die.
Without this capability even a millonare will become poor, so do not blame that few people are lucky enough to be born in certain circumstances that made their life easy you dont know how much they work hard to remain their.

from:  rajaraman
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 22:22 IST

Thanks for the reflections on the poor of our country,especially the landless in rural and drylands of our great country.Unless those governing class introspect themselves and plan ,implement correct "Food & Nutrition" policy, poor will become poorer only.Will the policymakers wake up?

from:  sukumar gurumurthy
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 21:55 IST

We should think about 'Gandhian Economics' which has Swadeshi (Self-Sufficiency) as the main objective. In olden days the villages produced everything they need (milk,rice and vegetables), wore Khadi (hand-spun cotton), had a active, healthy and hygienic lifestyle.

from:  Padmanaban
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 21:46 IST

I'm really awed by this idea. The most fascinating things is - I'm surprised there are sooo many comments and many of them supporting this idea. Which proves there are many of them who care for the poor and needy, in this greed ridden world. Also very happy that I'm not all alone to think about helping my fellow Indians ! Now, I'm quite sure that this poor india will become an world power.

from:  Vishwanath
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 21:34 IST

Awesome-empathy is an understatement! Going back to economics-rich becomes richer and the hiatus between rich and poor cannot be measured anymore. Is it happening in a place where we have world famous mathematician,noble prize winners-ironically they are economists. I bet nobody can even try what these gentlemen did..Kudos!!

from:  sumithra
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 21:20 IST

Matt and Tushar - How about starting a social enterprise now that you
have a taste of the tradeoffs that 400 million face?

from:  Vivian Gee
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 20:43 IST

Harsh Mander with this
article does touch a raw nerve. Thanks to the 2 young gentlemen.

from:  Dinipc
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 20:40 IST

Nice Job!! Now that they know the life of average/below average Indian what are these guys going to do for India and to eradicate poverty??Just pitying the life of poor ppl..most of us do that..Would be great if they start taking sure most of the weathly would help..Cant wait for Govt to take steps..

from:  Diya
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 19:27 IST

Somewhere in the article, It was mentioned "the other half". Sadly the
data would prove it is much much higher than half. It may look like the
poverty line is lowered a lot to bring most of the people above it,
which can only be good for presenting the data and nothing else.

An inspirational work! Congratulations Tushar and Matt, you guys created
a new example in minimalism.

from:  kelin
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 19:18 IST

Great work. Thank you for making me feel I 'm so so blessed and we need
to seek a more balanced growth. Each one needs to start working for the

from:  sahil arora
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 19:00 IST

Jai Hind.. You have done a great job but that is the fact of life.. Although we are in top 5 economies in the world but still 75% of us a under the poverty mark..

from:  Suvajit
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:40 IST

This news story is a strong reminder on the one hand of the stark
reality that the poor people face on day to day basis without any
hope or way out from their condition. On the other hand, it also
helps us to look at our own lives and the life style.

Now having understood the problem, it is not the time to find out
the culprits who are responsible for this travesty of
discrimination, or who ought to be people or institutions to take
remedial measures to correct this wrong committed against
innumerable citizens of this country. It is the time to think what
little bit we could do to contribute for eradication of this
poverty at our own level or initiative.

If this piece of news item will make us feel sorry for millions or
billions of people who are left into such sorry state of affairs,
and thereafter, we would go ahead with normal course of our lives,
then the very purpose of the news will be lost. This in fact
should be a wake up call for all of us who live in better life

from:  Ramesh Agnisharma
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:35 IST

"Do we really need that hair product or that branded cologne? Is dining out at expensive restaurants necessary for a happy weekend? At a larger level, do we deserve all the riches we have around us? Is it just plain luck that we were born into circumstances that allowed us to build a life of comfort?" an eye opener.

from:  kumar
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:18 IST

First I would like to say the thanks to Tushar and Matt
for bringing the harsh reality of millions around, in front of many ignorants.
We all can help to irradicate this plight condition of the needy people..if from today onwards we would help them in any the best way to share atleast 2% of your income in anyway (viz. medical, education, food, etc.) whichever u like.

from:  Raul
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:14 IST

Hats off to you two. what a commendable job!! This has made me think that why do i
have to cry for every small thing I desire for. I think we should be just happy with
whatever we possess. Its certainly a great learning for all of us. Thanks for sharing

from:  Sushma Yadav
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:05 IST

Hats off to you two. what a commendable job!! This has made me think that why do i
have to cry for every small thing I desire for. I think we should be just happy with
whatever we possess. Its certainly a great learning for all of us. Thanks for sharing

from:  Sushma Yadav
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:06 IST

Thanks to Matt & Tushar for undergoing this experiment.

Thanks to Hindu for publishing this.

from:  sachin
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:03 IST

Tushar and Matt have shown a way for each of us to help those in need and make a
difference. Instead of blaming the government and planners, let us get involved and make a
commitment to teach, educate, train as many as we can in our home towns and villages.

from:  R.Umashankar
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 18:02 IST

While feeling vaguely guilty when one spends on a night out with family
or friends, I now know from where that guilt comes from. However much we
try to ignore, poverty is all around us. We have to do our bit to
alleviate this problem. These two young chaps have shown how much can be
done by an individual. I will try level best to help.

from:  Shrenik
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 17:58 IST

Good Job friends.
Hope this experiment made some difference in politiacians thought process.

from:  the group for needy
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 17:47 IST

Hats off to two gentleman who in real sense have studied and got
themselves educated. If many from us follow and experiment ourselves and
enlighten others it would be great service to our Country and its
Citizens. Once again a Grand Salute to you both.

from:  Atul Doshi
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 17:34 IST

Congratulations Tushar & Matt on a month of sacrifices and a very
meaningful experiment. Hopefully we will see some seriousness in the
Government of India's response to poverty.

from:  Shyam
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 17:25 IST

Congratulations to Tushar and Mut for braving to practice the life of people living in below poverty line. It is indeed a good eye opener to many of us living on 200-300 Rs per day and seldom cares about the needy poor living around us. Everybody should make a personal plan how he can contribute to alleviate the poverty at least from his vicinity.

Well done Hindu News paper for high lighting this issue

from:  Abdul Kabeer
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 16:34 IST

It's a good one. Great guys. The idea itself appreciable.
Every rich person has to exeperience it. Definetly it helps to develop good humanity and importatnce of each rupee.

from:  Udaya Bhaskar
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 16:09 IST

Hats off to these two gentlemen who dared to experiment and share their experience. Most of us are aware that majority of our population is living in accute poverty without enjoying even basic necessities. But then, this article should serve as an eye opener and iam sure many will take a pause and reflect on the way they they have been living so far and stop splurging on non essential items and start showing more concern, by extending financial and physical help atleast towards our maids, drivers etc. who are languishing in poverty. Government at the States and Centre should provide education and health care free to all and close all liquor outlets run by them. Most of the poor male population in our country spend their entire day's earning in liquor and do not give any financial support to the family. This is one of the most important issue that pushes the families into poverty further and further. Government should address this and stop selling liquor.

from:  SUNDAR
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 15:43 IST

Tushar & Matt should have opened the eyes of the policy planners, whilst it is important that we understand the life of the poorest, the cause of them not being able to increase their income also needs deeper understanding. If only the policy makers sincerely empathise with people at every level, to uplift incomes then they will be able devise empowering programs & policies that will be truly 'Of the people & For the People' we have been focussing too much on manipulation to achieve just 'By the people'. Hats off to both of them to trigger a discussion by their action, hope it gets more publicised and the echelons of power hear them.

from:  Akhil C
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 15:34 IST

Kudo's to these youngsters. Its not easy for everybody to stretch the comfort boundaries of daily life. Its very difficult even to imagine to live with 32 Rs a day. Governament should stop boasting the GDP growth figures of the country and Should Start working to improve the ground realities. Due to un affordability and un - connectivity with the real world,poverty can be vicious circle which may barracade the further growth of poor.

from:  chandu
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 14:38 IST

This is a great piece of writing. Every Indian should read this.
Pleasure to reading this, thanks to "The Hindu". Please don't make
politics out of poverty:(

from:  Kamal Medhi
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 13:27 IST

this is true and harsh reality of life. we spend so much on our luxury without thinking of those 400 million people of our country. Although there are so many Govt programs on poverty elevation but dont know where all those money is going. since our freedom in 1947, 64 years have been passed and we are not in a position to remove poverty from our country. what a shame on us.

from:  Anil Kumar
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 13:19 IST

The figure of INR 32 per day must have been arrived by counting the
teeth of the chief of the Planning Commission. There seems no better
logic to come to such an accurate figure.
Poverty has unfortunately been looked as a statistical measure. Had some
common sense prevailed, some absolute parameters would also have been
used, like minimum food, shelter,clothing,healthcare & safety
requirements. I am not even getting into education and security.

from:  Ateesh Dwivedi
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 13:04 IST

Its a brave move by Tushar and Mutt. Its not difficult, because they know they can go back to some lifestyle after a few weeks.

But surely they have sincerely attempted to understand poverty first hand. They have changed so much because of that experience.

What the poor actually lack, in addition to lack of funds to spend on basic living, is the knowledge of what is nutritious, what is the best food in the limited budget, what is the best hygiene in limited budgets etc. So their decisions are so much less optimal.

I do not think that just because of this experiment, the government programs will become better. What I do hope for is that Matt and Tushar will take this experience to set up systems which work for improving the lives of poor and inspire a lot more people (poor or rich) to do the same.

from:  savitha
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 12:22 IST

So, Tushar and Matt could only experience what is being experienced by the lion's share of population in our country. It won't help in any way actually. The point is that, such an allowance violates human-rights. Doesn't it? Even if each of us goes out to live a kind of deprived life, that could help them in no way. We need to think over the issue itself, and develop some formula which could help them for being self-sufficient. We need to work for them on a 'personal' level.
That's the only way to dissolve the huge border of poverty from the country. Am I wrong?

from:  Timsy Mehta
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 12:15 IST

Such an inspirational article, it will stay close to my heart. Now my wisdom is keen to work on constructive steps to address the issue. Thanks and all the best for Matt and Tushar.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 11:57 IST

Such eye-opening article. Good job guys. Your exp is very useful for people like us who spend money on useless things.

from:  chandni
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 11:39 IST

Dear Harsh,

Thank you for a wonderful article. This one is an eye opener in many levels. Beautiful one.. so much to learn and implement.. Thanks again!

from:  Vinay.M.N
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 11:37 IST

A good article, nice to see so many comments denouncing the use of branded goods and articles, but let me ask you one question, have any of you bothered to step out and help these so called poor people? Im just playing the devils advocate but a majority of these people own huge tracts of land, they are given government jobs at the drop of a hat, not many actually take up these jobs that are handed to them on a platter! Instead they nurse dreams of making it big, without wanting to get up from their beds! Atleast in Karnataka, they are given the preference when land allotments are done too! Anyhow, there are quite a few who are deprived and i am not denying that, but i want to know, how many people who have posted comments here have gone out of their way to provide for these genuinely poor people? I am guessing, just a handful, so people, get off your comfortable couch and step out to make the difference, be the change you want to see!
That is when our poor would have a glimmer of hope!

from:  Michael
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 10:51 IST

The dark side of reality, an eye opener!

from:  Rahul Srinivasan
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 10:49 IST

Congratulations Tushar and Mutt . Let this be followed by as many as possible, and essentially by all planners, all and Hon. Representatives of we all common men .. This would bring extreme change in the thought and planning process.

from:  Dr.Atmaram Palnitkar
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 09:58 IST

This is a real participtive reality based observation and findings. Hope our planner learn some thing from this.

from:  SC Sharma
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 09:09 IST

Hats off the two gentleman who took the pains to live the life of a very average Indian.I wanted to share what the religion i practice (ISLAM) teaches....One of our 5 pillars is Zalat - it translates as 'alms' and the basic rule is paying 2.5% of you wealth in charity...If it were practiced by all particularly the would definitely lead it the poor getting a share of the wealth !!

from:  Younus Mohammed
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 09:00 IST

Most of the people who commented are blaming the system, politics, and even Poor. However the main takeaway from this is "Empathy should become essential part of YOUR life". Share a meal, help a needy child with tuition fee, give used cloths to someone needy etc you don't need to be rich. Share may be 0.01% of what you earn in an year...if not money, help with your time or will be a better place if everyone chips in to help the less fortunate...

from:  Raj
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 08:22 IST

Mr. Harsh Mander, would you be so kind as to share the contact
information (email perhaps) of these two gentlemen? Thank you.

from:  Khushi Malhotra
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 07:15 IST

This fact had been there for decades. People were sensitive to it about 20 years back and there were many dedicated and self-less persons working on it for improvement in the situation. So called "globalization" has made us very insensitive to other human being and has created wrong ideas about "progress". Unless whatever wealth is created from the progress, if at all it is created, must be distributed equally amongst the society. Till then, no progress is real progress.

from:  Shekhar Risbood
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 06:40 IST

Everybody must appreciate the courage of two young men.Likewise the politicians who make such decisions be focefully made to live with that money so that they know the things and understand the foolishness of their statements.

from:  amrutavalli
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 03:02 IST

I sincerely wish & demand Tushar & Matt directly write their day to day experience - a first hand account. The piece is heart rendering and very absorbing. Only that it is a reportage not a real story told by the ones who had this exceptional imagination courage to make such an experiment.
Thank you Harsh Mander for writing the real story. Can u not persuade Matt & tushar to write elaborately about those days. It has the potential to be a best seller, I'm confident.

from:  D.K. Bhattacharya
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 01:30 IST

In the villages of WB, I teach poorest of the poor children and always find them hungry and their reciprocation level is low because of malnutrient diets.Their pronunciatioin is also slurred due to semi-starvation. they still come to school to eat midday meal and get free books.They are determined to change their circumstances.But when I teach well off children in the city I find them dull and often casual. Their obesity again makes them slow. They are not interested to change their circumstances.
This two young men's deed is awe inspiring I think I will be able to work more among rural poor. Tushar and Matt,thanks to both of you.

from:  Dr.Arijeet Dasgupta
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 00:24 IST

There is lot of difference between real poverty and self imposed poverty. The mental and physical agony of the person who is suffering poverty and the one who impose himself poverty for the sake of his academic pursuit are totally different.There is no comparison between a Sanyasi who giveup his food and intentionally starve for his death and a poor man who starve with out any means to eat. Let Thushar and Matt live like a poor with Rs 26 per day in rural India (the line Montek drawn for defining poverty)for at least 10 years and then come
out with their experience.

from:  Pillai
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 00:10 IST

What you people are doing except blaming the government?

from:  Debasish
Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 00:06 IST

I think all the politicians of our country should compulsorily be made to spend the first one year of their term with just the Rs 26 stipend and understand the realities of life of millions of people whom they claim to serve.. we will then have real leaders who really understand the peoples needs and aspirations.

from:  sriprakash
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 23:26 IST

A great experiment! Wish all those privileged atleast learn to empathise and contribute in some way or other.

from:  Empathiser
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:41 IST

In ancient Indian educational system, students had to undergo one year of living on their own without any money from their parents (including prince). This allowed them to understand the life of the common man. Wish every student does voluntarily like Tushar & Matt. Congrads guys. We need this type of experience in the education soon.

from:  sakthi
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:31 IST

It is heart wrenching to hear the truth buried beneath those fancy promises we get during the election campaigns. Congratulations! to the two young brave men, for being realistic and experimenting the hard life that many are going through in our country. The 'incredible India' as we proclaim is just another lie that we utter to hide the ugly truth of what India really was and is. Thank you for your sensible act of going through the rough life to dig the reality. Hope someday, somehow, soon the policy makers will realize the need of the hour of our country and act upon them with consideration for the down trodden.

from:  Carolyn Pao
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:29 IST

Every column of Harsh Mander is informative and inspiring. He writes for the voiceless. Every week i wait for reading his column in The Hindu.

from:  Siddeeque
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:17 IST

Why cannot these politicians share(atleast 10%) their ill got wealth with the poorest of the poor people? We didnot bring anything into this world or going take anything with us. Why this greediness? Very sad to read again these kind of stories, Human being is the most greedy animal that has roamed this earth

from:  Kishan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:08 IST

Thanks for the article. It really stimulates thought process of people like us who are in midddle age and dreaming of big things in life. India as country I feel lost its culture and tradition of being human. In fact I lived in New Delhi for years and could see the life of people (generally the civil construction workers with thier family, small babies) sleeping on the road. The same road Prime Minister and other ministers Travel daily. What is thier thought? Nothing but close the window and enjoy the AC. I hope there is a lot to improve! May god bless our country!

from:  Pritam
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:01 IST

Bharatiyar aptly remarked "Let this universe be destroyed if a single person goes without food". Hunger leads to anger which naturally opens up the pandora's box filled with evil qualities. This just reinforces what most of know already but let us not forget to do our mite to help out the less fortunate ones....forget all other arguments.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:01 IST

Superb, Good work guys, atleast the people in the government read this type of articles before they plan something.

from:  Kalyan Sundar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 22:00 IST

To the Highly Educated HUMAN RESOURCES of INDIA Planning Commission...

from:  NNJ
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 21:43 IST

A heart touching information, wish all Indians (incl. the rich)understood the really needy ones!. Salute to both of them. A prestigious experiment to remember for life.

from:  Wasiullah
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 20:56 IST

India's per capita income is 4 US dollars a day. That is 200 Indian rupees. It is not a question of redistribution of wealth alone. Either Indians work a lot harder and raise their GDP substantially or they control their population. There is no other way for them to come out of the vicious circle of abject poverty. Ofcourse better education and vocational training can also make them capable of providing cheap labor to the rest of the world for some time.

from:  Nasir Ali Khan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 20:45 IST

I think it’s amazing that the two decided to do what they did and saw it all the way through. Very few would. It would be one hell of an experience to have gone through what they did for no words would be able to describe that. We have all read the story and commented, and many have solutions to eradicating the poor of this country by donating 1 rupee for example, but for how many days would you keep donating and how frequently after that. When beggars come up to you on the street, how many are turned away? We can shed a tear, say a prayr or comment, but how many would commit? We are comfortable with the comforts we have and as such it is inconceivable to understand the way the other half live. We see them on the street and secretly wish they remain there for we would never invite them in, would we. To accept one’s fate and the fate into which we are all born is hard for most and thus we are unable to comprehend justice.

from:  Borune
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 20:43 IST

Good experiment, but it really achieved nothing more than exposing the two to Indian poverty. What they "discovered" is something that's already very very visible.

What's interesting are kind of conclusions the author of the article, Harsh is trying to convey.

Of course, the first thing he jumps on is guilt for the rest of us. What about the millions of poor Indians who have pulled themselves out of poverty by their own effort? Damm right - they deserve to use Cologne!

"That a food law which guarantees adequate nutrition to all is essential" A Law never provided anyone anything - much less adequate nutrition. Have you heard of a thing called the Ration Card?

Love you Tushar & Matt for giving it a shot.
The author suffers from "Man’s basic vice, ... is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know." (Ayn Rand)

Harsh Mandar is not a pretentious fool - that's bad.

from:  Harsh Mulik
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 20:21 IST

If it is 100% true then I asks them what they would do now.They came india to do some research our to raise the hope of poor indian people.
It is a research then they did a wonderful job.
If they want to change then they need to do a lot hard work far beyond what they have done.

from:  rokesh kumar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 20:04 IST

I agree with all the previous comments, but please allow me a bit of critique:
I found the article very superficial, they only talk about facts and figures, and very poorly about experiences and feelings. Why do they take their laptops when moving to the small appartment? There are a couple of things I do not understand fully.

Plus, the people which are actually living in these situation will never be able to read the article, because, as it has been said, they cannot even pay for electricity for powering a laptop.

from:  Angel
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 19:42 IST

It is really an amazingly brave attempt by these great youngsters. While we do need an organisd attempt from the governmet side to end this (We say last year that despite having urplus grains get wrotten in the godowns, our Minieter Pawar refused to yiled to the demand of supreme court to distribute it to the poor), it is even more important
that each and every one who can afford should cut out on their luxury expenses and use them to help the neighbouring poor. If at least 20 percent of Indians do this, we can avoid these to a great extent. As they rightly said,
"We may have treated them as strangers all our lives, but they surely didn't treat us as that way...” should serve as an eye opener.

from:  Narayanan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 19:42 IST

Motivational story.. really educated people can change the world and to
understand something, we have to actually involve in that, the feeling
of depravity makes us humble and let respects resources and people..

from:  ruchi jain
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 19:30 IST

The whole article is fine but the conclusion is unwarranted and unrelated. We dont need a food security bill. We need better administration and job creation. With better administration poor can avail the rationing system in a better manner, thus reducing the impact of lack of food security.

And more importantly we need job creation. Give a man fish, he wont go hungry one day, teach him to fish he wont go hungry his whole life. This has to be the motto.

It is really good that judicial activism and investigative journalism is making it difficult for corruption to grow. Now the governments needs to focus on job creation and quality education.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 18:37 IST

The 2 young men chose to experiment with poverty in a village in Kerala. I dont think they could have experienced poverty here. minimum wage for a labourer in kerala per day is Rs350/- and of a domestic help is Rs200/-. They spend lots of money on food and other gadgets. Might be right if they are talking about rest of India

from:  Lekha
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 18:22 IST

really moving effort! Such empathetic acts must be appreciated in
full spirit. moreover i wish our educational policymakers understand
the necessity of incorporating this in to the syllabus of various
levels of education.

from:  Rajan. M. V.
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 18:11 IST

Indeed a great attempt this reminds me Scottish man Mr.Mark Boyle,the
moneyless man.

from:  Arashanapalli Sridhar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 18:09 IST

for them its just an experiment for the majority its life itself. To understand the poverty is quiet simple. you need to be hungry and stretched to meet your end. From here where the experiments take them is what matters. Lets wait and see....

from:  Bob Rex
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 17:44 IST

In my opinion this should be circulated in an effective manner so that the younger generation learn about this experience and start cultivating some empathy towards the people on the other side and also they would learn to spend their earnings wisely.

from:  b k vasuki
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 17:24 IST

Congratulations Tushar & Matt on a very meaningful experiment. .
from: Dr.M.Narsi Reddy

from:  narsi
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 17:19 IST

This is slap on our system and now the Government shouls open their eyes.A Better India is only in the hands of our youngsters.

from:  Deepika
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 17:13 IST

For one day, my maid did not come. I did not eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. I spent the entire day in my bed, thinking about food. And I spent not even one rupee that day. And I realized how difficult it is for the millions of Indians who did this everyday. The next meal I ate, I appreciated every morsel. I sent a message to my friends, telling them how every bite reminded me of the impoverished millions in India. But I did this in the comfort of my semi-luxurious house. I realize today what a mistake it was. Next time my maid doesn't come, I will sit outside my house and do the same thing. Or maybe in my servant's house. And hope that someone will write an article about me. But maybe not - for I have not studied in an elite US institution.

from:  ST
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 16:31 IST

After reading this, I'm sure, no one is going to experiment this again. It's sad, but true.....Can only say, that the govt. should go to remote villages, and help these people. At least one family member, by giving them permanent jobs anywhere, according to their skills.......This way, they can live a decent life....

from:  Jagjeet Saluja
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 16:28 IST

Very significant experiment by Matt & Tushar. Appreciate the time and efforts you have put in understanding our fellow citizens who live under Poverty Line. I wish to quote Mother Theresa "if you can't feed hundred, feed just one". This is what we need to do today.

from:  Robert Udyavar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 16:26 IST

Your article as always is insightful and calls for deep introspection of self and society. Yet one wonders if law alone , in this case a food law, could offer a solution. In that sense, your ending the article on that note seemed a bit of a distraction. Over the years, we seem to have tilted towards advocating for policies that would help us demand our rights. As a result, there is an abundance of 'Rights'amidst us today. However, when it comes to delivering those rights, we fall short of commitment. Also intriguing is the fact that such claim over rights is subverting the value of "responsibility'. I think that a law by an overimposing state can achieve little if there isn't enough intent and compassion within people and civil society to deliver their responsibility of citizenship.

from:  Monica Banerjee
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 15:11 IST

Well these guys still lived better lives than most of the poor people as they had Rs. 26 every day to spend,, so they could plan their meals and other expenditures. However, the fact is that income of poorhouseholds are less as well as irregular. This irregularity further aggravates the situation.

from:  Swati
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 14:43 IST

The duo's soul-searching as shown in the letter, following their
experiences with self-inflicted poverty, left many a poignant moment
in its wake.

I'm reminded of the true meaning of the month-long annual Islamic
fasts wherein there's a complete censure on any food or drink from
sunrise to sunset. By sunset, the fasting person is overwhelmed by the
need for rejuvenation and by the thought of countless others suffering
far worse conditions THROUGHOUT the day, EVERY day of their lives. Add
to this that every financially well-off believer is to COMPULSORILY
spend 2.5% of his/ her income on the needs of the poor and the needy
(irrespective of religion), and we've this system which, if
implemented zealously among Muslims, should enable a revolution of
great positive consequence in poverty alleviation.

True social revolution begins from the grass-roots level in society
wherein Matt and Tushar met with the guilt compounded by the love
shown them by 'the other' India we seldom know....

from:  Aneesha
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 14:27 IST

Obviously the clothes they are wearing is outside Rs. 26 and also the house where they are standing. They found that getting just roti in Rs. 26 is so tough. Imagine if they had to take care of kapda and makan also in that princely sum. That is the bravery of our beloved 98% and that is far far superior to the bravery of superman or Hanuman.

from:  Arun Murthy
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 14:13 IST

For these two boys at least, have immense respect. My humble request - your experience has triggered immense response. Please please take it further and find a way for people to help. I will contribute both through skill sets and monetarily. Also will try and moot as much of support from others as is possible. Also can we create a way for more and more people to experience this on an "always on" basis. Dear Hindu, can you please take this up and anchor it, while we all pitch in and support. Government is us, let's not rant, let's do.

from:  Challapalli Kalyan ram
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:56 IST

I bow before you two, Matt and Tushar. There are many good people in our country who want to do something to change our systems, political, Administrative, education etc. But, I feel that they have not found the way as to how to bring about these changes. Getting together these people is the first biggest problem. We have seen the exercise carried out by Anna Hazare. After the bitter attack on the character of the members of the civil society, any good person will hesitate to come forward. Hence, it is going to be an uphill task to reduce the number below the poverty line. As individuals we can do our bit in our daily life. We can avoid the things which we do just for the sake of more comfort than necessary and contribute the fund saved thus to the society through proper channel. This is the best of our generation. Next generation may do something bigger and better. Progressively, after few geneartions things will brighten up. We may not live to see but we have sown the seeds.

from:  Sridharan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:53 IST

inspiring article.I think the planning commission board should have tried what these two have done. They must try. Poverty makes people good managers.

from:  Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:51 IST

.."do we deserve all the riches we have around us? ."
we need to keep asking this question to ourselves a million times

from:  ameer
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:48 IST

It indeed is an awesome experiment and a great reminder. But, I would also want to add something. I have lived in rural Andhra rarest palakollu and seen and lived in these circumstances first hand. Most interestingly when we graduated, we had to work for the first year at 6000 rupees in a city like Mumbai per month. The two things that still made our situation incomparable is (1) we did not have to depend on the uncertainty of daily wages and had a fixed income (so we could plan better). (2) we had hope for a better future, because we had the backing of education. What we should possibly focus on is to try and create the same for them to whaT ever possible exTent. Do deal with poverty in a phase is easy (for 8 months in Mumbai, I could only afford a 11 rupee auto richshawalla thali - as it was called in char danda). But I knew I would do better and my situation was temporary. The reality is most probably their situation would remain the same for their entire lives. "Realistic hope".

from:  Challapalli Kalyan ram
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:42 IST

Standing ovation to these two guys. Not the first time a well-off person has experimented living the poor life. But the fact that they chose to do this [how many of us would, even after reading this inspiring story?], and - more importantly - get a story out that resonates with many of us,....and hopefully motivates us to to figure out ways in which we [as individuals] can act, to help reduce poverty, make the life of at least disadvantaged person a little better....Thanks, Matt and Tushar

from:  KS Dugal
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:35 IST

Its an amazing thought, a true sense of empathy. What gives a better experience than living in one's own shoes. It is a very commendable experience, I hope this would have given you guys an invaluable experience. Good luck on your journey.

from:  Satish
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:29 IST

What an article.....the hard realities are difficult to accept....what the two 26yr old have gone through is just the temporary heart cries for the people who go through the same struggle every day for the livelihood....

from:  riti chopra
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:03 IST

What is it with us Indians why don,t the Poor revolt.When growing up,our parents said,learn to do your work yourself,soon there will be no poor so no help. They were not very rich ,but did their I have grand children and they too have help.The govt was never serious.they diverted the funds from elementary edu to univ edu to benefit the middle class .If the poor were edu they would demand their rights Even today the dumb govt does not have an indep minister for education.It's shared charge which means non of the charges are impt enough to have an indp minister.Early on they said,if you vote us in we will serve you well,now shamelessly they say hammare raj mein-- It's not just this govt even the others have failed.When we look at the functioning of our Parliament we see the opp even less serious and irresponsible The country is caught between the devil and the deep sea.Well done young boys hope it leads somewhere.

from:  Renuka Varma
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 13:00 IST

We all applaud the one's who did this and we share with all. But the question is "Even after reading this how many of us are following to be simple not like as these guys but alteast to some extent"

from:  Praneeth MHS
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 12:56 IST

Kudos to these youngmen for what they did. But things will never
change in India. The rich are gonna get so rich and the poor are gonna
get poorer. I am sick of the political scenario in India. A Country
with more than a billion people and yet we are run by a group of
corrupt politicians/officials who grab all that they could and put it
away in swiss banks. As one of the readers mentioned above
While it gives lot of pain to read but u all know how many thousands
of crores are spent on "garlands and flowers alone" by governments
while organising functions/inaugurations, and on advertisements etc
If the Government/Ministers/officials stop their extravaganzas ; we
can certainly do better. Hope some in Higher echelons read this !
Well done Tushar and Matt. Truly Inspiring!!

from:  Venkat Choudhary
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 12:35 IST

Dear Planners,
Please consider these two young men's live story.
If possible,surely you don't do that, try to live for one week like them. Then only you come to know the what is the meaning of poverty line and below poverty line.

Salute to the two young indians.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 12:28 IST

I'm inspired by the courage shown by both of you... Its indeed commendable that you literally experienced what most people even do not want to think of - Pl. put a plan to solve this problem as you both are the most qualified having gone thru the trauma yourselves... You sure have my support in implementing it...

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 12:17 IST

Do we really need such "Mock poverty Tests" to know with how much difficulty the poors are surviving? Do you or me not know that what can we get in Rs.26 in today's inflation times? I appreciate the empathatic efforts of these guys but wouldn't it have been better to cover some real story from anywhere in India which millions of poors are living? and above all we all can feel that how it may have been but do we actually make it a habit to help such people continously rather than just appreciating such thoughts for a moment only..?

from:  Manoj Kumar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 12:09 IST

commendable...... commendable.... commendable....... it's just not a article but inspiration for those who waste their good enough convenience in tasting the world rather than helping out those who are needed actually. the way both young boy has strove and and proved the commitment towards below poverty line people and shown the reality to the world is nothing but precious and commendable.... hunger is nothing but neglecting the need of those who really need it, it's because of not taking care of sufficient need of people only but denial of those who can make better life of others who is needy also. One other aspect is that if we make our self to live a simple life like not investing extra money on unnecessary thing and restrict our self within the actual need only, we could help and invest those money to make other's life meaningful and worthwhile.....while reading this article it was so overwhelming experience for me..

from:  Ranjeet verma
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 12:02 IST

Feeling a person from their perspective matters less after living like them. hats-off you both to take this much pain.

from:  Dhanasekaran R
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:55 IST

So, what did the boys learn to DO with their newfound experience? What can be done WITH them and others to accommodate the basic needs of the people of the world? It is good that they have opened the comfortable eyes of those who are not without, but what good is that if nothing changes? Imagine what each person can accomplish if food is not an issue?

from:  jeannie llewellyn
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:37 IST

great job guys. got tears while reading this article.

from:  abhishek
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:36 IST

Commendable job by both of you, Worth reading this article. Hope our Beaurocrats would realise their duties soon before they doom us.

from:  Lokeshwari
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:35 IST

I now more than appreciate what i have.

from:  Suma
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:34 IST

Very inspiring. I wanted to do this myself, but found myself lacking the will to do it for a month, a I intended. Your experience is worth a book. Willing to write it if you like...

from:  SVDivvaakar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:30 IST

These two younsters have taught us all a great lesson. That of empathy, compasion and understanding of the way the poor of India live in our country. Why blame just the politicians and the system for everything? Lets all promise to treat the poor with understanding ourselves instead of looking at them always as perpetrators of crime....and expect 100% out of them at all times. The next time they take a day off extra, lets be a little softer on them. Feed them and their children the same food you would feed your children at home etc. Lets show a better attitude towards them.And then finally see how we can help affect some changes in the system in the longer run.

from:  vasuda ravichandran
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:14 IST

I must say ... Very thought provoking , must come up with some solutions .....

from:  Kaisar dopaishi
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:12 IST

great ! it validates and re-validates what we all know, but what is the plan to move ahead from here? I don't want to blame government or anyone else for this but It is the Indian mindset which instead of making everyone rich, believes in keeping the poor, poor and then sympathizing with them. We should become more Entrepreneurial, generate more jobs, respect and treat everyone with proper work ethics. You can start doing by treating your house hold help with same respect, which you expect from >your boss in office.

from:  Rishi Khare
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:06 IST

Who calculated and decided the poverty line, he or she also should live at least one month like this young guys...then they will also realize the facts....many of the govt so called "welfare schemes" conditions also almost like this..... its very hard to reach the needy people...Thanks to this young guys for enlightening the people .....great job...

from:  Krishna Reddy Chittedi
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 11:06 IST

Your piece in Hindu just reminds me that India has been a place for practising poverty! In early 1960, I remember a piece written by J D Singh in The Times of India from Calcutta dateline. Three or four US and English youths had been on tour to India.In course of their trip, they reached Calcutta and lived their life in acute poverty, walking like vagabounds! Such action of these youths atttracted the attention of J D Singh. He asked the youths why they were leading such life in poverty whereas their countries are much afluent. They simply replied they were sons of millionares-even one call could bring a lot of money for them!But they were here in India to practise poverty. Thus Rs 25 a day for an Indian, theoried by the union government and the planning commission, has been imposed on Indians for practising poverty and we are practising poverty at the cost of twenty percent persons, having accummulated huge wealth and the rest Indians are in poverty.kksingh my blog

from:  krishn kumar singh
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 10:51 IST

The two tried to find the way a majority of Indians live and succeeded
in finding it the hard way by experience. It is certainly a pity that
our government could not provide a minimum modicum of comfort to so
many millions. Why has his happened? Part of the problem is our
population which is still growing at an alarming rate. Many economists
in India wax eloquently about our demographic advantage since there
are so many young people in India that is a large work force.But we
still do not create enough jobs for all. Poor skill development is one
factor. Our education system needs improvement. The other factor in my
view is that our enterprise skills are ill developed. India was from
historical time a trading country. Our planners clearly forgot this
USP of our people and went ahead with socialistic planning which curbs
the skill of the individual. If we could come out of this morass and
put the individual at the center of everything perhaps the next
generation will be better off.

from:  B. George
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 10:04 IST

As Kanchi Sankaracharya(Eledest Guru who is no more) advised keep aside one hand ful(Fistful) of Rice or Atta every day while starting Cooking ,collect and hand over to Temple/Masjid/Church, where free emals can be cooked and served to Poor.
This will avert Greedy Middle men and ensure proper distribution .
Let us do something to oour bretheren as J.F.Kennedy US President said "Do not ask what the country has done for you, Ask yourself what have you done for the country"
Good Luck

from:  T.V.Ramanan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 10:02 IST

Great that you have taken the initiative to step into the other side...Such stories are inspiring...Everyone probably opines that's the work of the social workers who are often not read about for all the sacrifices they are making in improving the quality of the lives of people...while the others are busy working away to make their own lives better...Maybe there will be a time when people will have to be flexible enough to bear multiple roles in the professional, social, economic, etc domains, to make the real change they want to...As long as they are chasing just one thing, someone's always winning, someones always losing in the brotherhood!!

from:  Divya
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 09:28 IST

Great job done by young guys. Thanks. This is the real face of India. Its realy painful to find how people lives in such poverty. These young guys have provided their calculation how they tried to live on Rs 26. Can I request the planning commission to provide their calculation how a person is not poor if he is earning more than Rs 26, say Rs 30? I am sure they haven't done any calculation. Its only a random number between 15 and 30.

from:  Santosh
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 09:21 IST

Tushar and Matt - a salute to u guys. Indeed ur experiment and experience bring out the harsh reality of millions of lives of Indian. It brings out the need for the policy makers to stop making mockery of the poors by making false BPL line that unrealistically divide the poors into 2 groups. Rich people who make policies need to know the ground reality to make a realistic and pragmatic policy to uplift the poors and make India a truely progressive society.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 08:38 IST

Since I have lived at much less and made a life out of it - and a wonderful one at that. My Mother who is 91 took care of us with Rs.5/- a day and lived a life of dignity and honor. Today, we are all millionaires. Anything is possible in India. Aspirations can take you anywhere.

Note down the names of these two MITians. They will come out with a best seller and millions out of it. Make them. But spend 50% of the earnings for the upliftment of the poverty stricken. They do not need money. They only need the right direction and channelisation. Help them get that. They do wonders.

from:  Nanaiah
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 08:27 IST

I am a Sri Lankan student, studying in Bangladesh. When i read through
the article, I was able to visualize the pathetic condition of the
people living here. We need a radical change in many of the developing
countries. Most of the people suggested that providing education might
be a good solution, but with a hungry stomach, how can a child focus on
education. Foreign aids are also not helping these countries because of
the illegitimate governments. I think, Each and every governments
should take initiative. Hats Off to those two guys!!!

from:  Umakamal
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 08:23 IST

all IAS,IPS officers recruit, MLAs and MP, ministers, chief ministers, prime minister should be given experience like this. It should be part of their probation. This practical knowledge should be imparted to all professionals like engineers, doctors, lawyers, charted accountants and in fact all human beings.

from:  bharathi
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 08:12 IST

Great job guys. This is a tremendous effort and at the very least
provokes thought on the ridiculousness of materialistic life. I have
only one point to make. While this month long exercise is gruelling, I
believe the fact that this ordeal is going to eventually end makes it
'easier' (however easy it is to sustain of Rs. 26 a day). When you have
no hope of coming out of this situation, I think it is infinitely harder
to pass each living day

from:  YR
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 07:48 IST

The Govt. knows from day one the finding in the report that one can live with Rs26 a day is a mockery. It is an insult to the poor of our pride nation. It is time for our big industries and corporate world to assist Govt. by taking up small steps to uplift the poor in their respective areas. We should appreciate the youngsters for their work.

from:  M Ravindranathan
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 07:22 IST

Reposting comment from earlier-Nagesh at 15.04-Your points are all correct but following them would not allow these guys to be feted as heros or write international blogs.
Not sure why these concepts were excluded?
- A simple Ration card (forget abt the BPL card) provides for rice,
daal (lentil), wheat, sugar, oil and kerosene at a highly subsidized
- A simple Bus or Train monthly pass is available at a pittance
- A rented small house can be managed in under 1000 Rs in non-metros
or in a small town or village
- Cooking gas cylinders plus the stove is given at nearly free of
cost by many state-governments provided you can prove the total
income to be under 10 grand a month
- The entire article confidently avoids mentioning government
hospitals and the near free medication provided (albeit with
corruption). India is one of the only countries to provide HIV
retro-anti-viral medication for free, same for rabies, snake-bites,
polio & the list is lon

from:  P. Prasad
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 07:11 IST

Also it is amazing that all people who support Mr Mander's ideas here are living in a dream world- "rich people SHOULD become selfless" -- and what about the not rich people -they should become selfish, selfless or what? People should become less corrupt. And while we wait for all these SHOULD BEs to happen the poor will keep suffering and we will keep chanting these moral mantras from the comfort of our living rooms or to comfort our intellectual/moral senses, but it's a shallow way of thinking about the problem. The only way to remove poverty is to create wealth and the only way to create wealth is entrepreneurship. If the junta sees that efforts are being both towards empowerment, free markets and poverty alleviation at the same time, it will be easier to find support for anti-poverty measures. Instead of using human greed to our advantage we are all wasting our time cursing it. But as I said, it gives us inner satisfaction to chant moral mantras so we do it.

from:  Abhinav Sharma
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 07:03 IST

I don't understand how people in this world still consider that to solve a problem we first need to take lessons in morality. Those of us who use Ipads and spending on products that Mr Mander consider unnecessary are only helping to create wealth that can then be redistributed to those who need it. Wealth cannot be created FIRST by creating anti-poverty programs and then hoping that money will grow on the trees to pay for it. That is simple reality. Pragmatists also care for poor as much as leftists but to solve an emotional and moral problem the former use practical methods - like creating jobs, infrastructure, encouraging business and enterprise and providing affordable high quality education standards so that there is enough employment and enough employable people. Simply arguing for only how the rich and middle class are callous, soulless, immoral people has not helped in any part of the world and will not help in India. Human nature is to care for self first and then for others.

from:  Abhinav Sharma
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 06:56 IST

its true that "hunger can make you angry".............that anger might
make you choose your path in life (whether it be good or
bad)..................the present day terrorists ,naxals ,dakhus ,etc.
are born out of hunger, to overcome their hunger they had to retaliate
against the "society" which gave them no choice...........but also there
are people who fought the hunger in a right way like apj abdul kalam
(who was from a poor family).

from:  vamsi
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 06:20 IST

Tushar & Matt - RESPECT! However I'm tickled by how Mr. Mander has used this story/incident to bat for his Food security bill in his article. Is he trying to make the people think that its okay for them to be taxed some more to pay for the provisions of the Food security bill?! The problem is, as already commented by someone, in the EXECUTION! Its just one more way for the politicians to siphon off the hard earned money from the middle class. Its funny that in India, the middle class pays most of the taxes which is supposedly for the poor but is gobbled up by the 'rich' upper class politicians. This way, the rich get richer, the poor remain poor! I wish that NAC could come up with a bill to tax the corrupt and the rich to improve the conditions of the poor. I'm really sad that Mr. Mander used this column to propagate his bill.

from:  Vinay
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 04:33 IST

Salute the two kids. The Hindu editorial department should send a shameful reminder about >this to the intelligent people in planning commission (who probably are not educated enough to read this article on their own and interpret it correctly)

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 03:02 IST

Tushar & Matt used their money and yet found it very difficult. Ideally,
the poor would also have to earn their money to live, apart from having
to face all the difficulties living with such low income which Tushar &
Matt faced.

from:  Adhvaith
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 01:13 IST

Hats off guys! It's a great job. 'Corrupted politicians' should understand this and try to help the poor people, if they have real shame in their life. Though I have not contributed much to my country so far, I feel proud to be Indian after seeing the contribution of our friends taken atleast to understand the difficulty of our own people.

from:  Suresh Kumar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 00:40 IST

Why we are unnecessarily creating so much hipe ???? Every indian from a lower
middle class family goes through this experience and let us not romanticize things
beyond a point to garner publicity.

from:  Venkat Sivananda Kumar
Posted on: Feb 14, 2012 at 00:00 IST

India's Population is 1.2 billion and growth rate of 1.4 %, we are going to be the country with largest population in world. moreover 32% of population are below age 14.So there is more chances of good development in rural areas, poverty can be eradicated only by providing good education, improving infrastructure , less corruption , good financial and monetary policies. >Public sectors should compete with private sectors in terms effectiveness & efficiency . Irrigation problems should be solved, farmers should be provided information technology to run their business. Luxury taxes on top brands usage , wealthy people should be charged with more taxes, People who waste food and resources should be fined. Our country is one of best democratic system in world. we are united by culture & values.
Changes are waiting at door step, not for your son and daughter provide education to unknown children. lets stop blaming our polity, we will take changes in hand.

from:  Ravichandran
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 23:55 IST

Wonderful article. Hats off to the duo for setting a very good example.

from:  Parameswaran
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 23:17 IST

Thank you guys for showing unseen INDIA to many. Thank you very much.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 23:08 IST

This made me think, at least these guys were educated and they knew what food gives them sufficient energy and proteins.What about the people in our country who actually suffer from this and they just eat what ever is available for the cheapest prices.This story gives me enough reasons to cut down on my useless expenses.Thank you guys for posting this story.

from:  seema
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 23:08 IST

only a person who has a serious concern for his nation could have taken such a thoughtful steps Matt and Tushar are few amongst the millions, India needs to rethink - Poverty is a disease to a developing nation,the govt. needs to re-take a serious steps and measures to bring about a social transformation in its entire social structure.

from:  thepfusalie theunuo
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 22:44 IST

Thanks for such a nice article & providing an encouraging note to upcoming generations. I think for Matt & Tushar that was an experiment & they had to suffer it for just a few days, but that's the reality for many. I hope someone really honest, having the approaches to change the same would read this article.
Even considering the politics, I think all the politicians should be made compulsory to experience such miserable lifestyle or serve the country(as soldier/police/military person) at least 2-3 years in order to reduce current dynastic succession in politics. That way they will at least think once, while forming any of these laws related to poor people.

from:  Madhu
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 22:42 IST

Lets get over these poverty safari trips. This is nothing but self righteousness aimed at self aggrandizement. We have lived for a long time on the staple of these romantic/emotional tales of poverty. For the last sixty years the high pitched rhetoric of all shades of governments and an assortment of social activists have achieved little. We need to have a paradigm shift on how we look at the vicious cycle of poverty. The approach should not be just to throw money at the problem which Harsh Mander wants us to do. The money will hemorrhage out of the system very soon. State needs to make sure that everybody has access to health care and education and every body has equal opportunity in life. By simply subsiding everything people consume is nothing but bribing them for lack of imagination in policy making and lethargy of action.

from:  Peeyush
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 22:00 IST

The very fact that we are able to read this article and paste comments on it shows
our range of living . Ephemeral empathizers efforts never yeild perinneal results . Introspection is pivotal

from:  Amith
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 21:48 IST

The Best planners of our country mostly rely on statistics; which when best defined : Lies, Damn-lies & Statistics. These statistics provided are to certain authority in a different context and not aimed at any development programmes; Any way, the efforts being made by such young shall bear fruits at some near future. Let us endeavour. Best of luck to all country men.

from:  CMA P.A.N. MURTY
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 21:21 IST

Poverty in India in 2004-5 is 27.5% (Planning Commission 2008). Which is 300 million. A national shame.The poverty lines for 2004-5 are Rs 356 per month for rural areas and Rs 539 for urban areas. According to International Poverty Line of US ($ 1.24 Per Day, 2005), 42% of India is under BPL. All the taxes paid by us are just filling government's pockets, even they are aware of this. The govt. has to come up with new ways like: 1) Rather than giving money for the govt. officials for building old age homes, orphanages etc. they should start reimbursement (a % of total cost) if any private person/organization is doing these things. This encourages a lot of people to help again, and this alleviates corruption at high level. 2) People under BPL are in a poverty trap. A one time investment on them is highly necessary to bring them out of the trap, let it be a 2% tax rise only for 1 financial year and all the money dedicated to only this, or some other thing. A good job Matt & Tushar.

from:  Srikar Ravulapalli
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 21:22 IST

Living on Rs26 a day. This issue was discussed with all seriousness few months back and
we do not know whether the govt had any rethinking on this issue. The two youngsters,
with their educational background in prestigious educational institutions in America deserve
All praise for conducting research on this to help the underdogs of the Indian society. India
Is rising up as an economic power in Asia and there is no doubt that the governments at
the centre and also the states, inspite of different political perceptions have done their best
in governance to lift the poor. But the concept of the planning commission, that with Rs 26
a person can live does not make sense and the govt, on a top priority basis, should take
steps to correct the serious anomaly in the larger interests of the BPL families in India. We
Do not know whether these youngsters undertook this as their first project to help the BPL
Families. They deserve all praise. C.P.Chandra Das, USA.

from:  C.p.Chandra das
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 21:15 IST

This article, is a niece piece. The elites of this counrty , and that too of anywhere esle , rarely thinks of the majoirty. They live in their own world. Please note that words of the auhtor - all the time they were thinking how to arrange food for two ends. Add the necessity to feed the children or you elders, and think do the people living in these condition could ever think of improving thier future. This is poverty trap. It is heartening that our youth are setting this examples. My slaute to the young boys.

from:  RP Juyal
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 20:52 IST

friends this is what basically body requires to thrive on , you don,t
require very much fancy foods and supliments .i think with the education
and knowledge of food will teach us to thrive on minimals. i personaly
salute to both of them for their daring experiance

from:  dr ajay
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 20:49 IST

In addition to demanding food security for all from the Govt.,
we also need to directly extend our help to the poor and needy especially children in the best possible way.

'If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one.' -Mother Teresa

from:  Ankur Ekbote
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 20:36 IST

Mixed feelings....Feel the urge to unconditionally salute these two, even while doing that,
my mind says, u feel so much for these two who has experimented it for few months
knowing very well that they will get out of this rut.....spare a thought for those who ve been
doing it for generations together, running a family, rearing kids with no get away
clause....mind jus numbs....looking at the responses, this effort has already started a ripple
effect to spread goodwill, that is an immense achievement !

from:  Arivan
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 20:12 IST

The middle class in India is running hard to earn their millions.
The upper class has not an iota of understanding of the reality of the population of India that faces such a grim & hard lifestyle. Infact they might not even be aware of it.
Tushar and Matt have done society a marvellous service by bringing out these harsh realities faced by the populaiton of India; unlike the one night stops of some politicians at some poor man's hut.
Harsh Mander has chronicled it well.
Nevertheless, unless there is a will amongst the people to help change lives, a will amongst people to be more disciplined and empathise with each other, these will remain one off experiences and articles.

from:  Arun Subramanian
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 19:59 IST

An eye opener for us who run behind luxury and branded items.....

from:  HEMJITH
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 19:59 IST

I was again impressed with the disparities of our social, economical anda cultural life that expresses itself beyond comonsendse boundaries. Congratulatios to these two ypung men that will fr5om nowon be much mora useful to their society and our world.

Go on with your dream of a better world.

from:  Carmen
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 19:53 IST

I was again impressed with the disparities of our social, economical anda cultural life that expresses itself beyond comonsendse boundaries. Congratulatios to these two ypung men that will fr5om nowon be much mora useful to their society and our world.

Go on with your dream of a better world.

from:  Carmen
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 19:53 IST

While it gives lot of pain to read this but u all know how many thousand crores are spent on "garland and flowers alone" by governments while organising functions/inaugurations, adoring parks, street lights etc etc If the Government/Ministers/officials stops their extravaganzas ; we can certainly feed this country better.

from:  sundar
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 19:10 IST

Great experiment to understand people living in poverty.If everyone try to follow at least one week to live with Rs.26 a day,it will give understanding of people living below poverty line.Lot of wasteful expenditure can be reduced.spending on public services can be increased many time.

from:  Rajesh Gandhi
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 18:52 IST

The true essence of education. When this essence gets lost in the wind, we say education has failed to make one's presence felt in the society. A true eye opener. Dear gentlemen try for job in governance India need people with heart of the downtrodden to reach them the benefits of scarce resources with out getting eroded or got stashed in Swiss banks.All the best.

from:  Bose A Panicker
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 18:51 IST

The most important point has been made in the last line of the article
that the empathy is essential. In my view there is no sense in blaming
the govt or policy makers because each one of us is responsible for
this state. So the best support we can give is to not only feel this
pain but also take some action as an individual to assuage such under privileged sector of our society. These actions can be as simple as
giving some extra help to those needy people who are already around us
and working for us in making our lives more comfortable, like our
servant or cook or driver or a rickshapuller or little more
challenging like getting associated with a social work or NGO or a
spiritual body in reaching out to poor and needy people in villages
and extending our help in any form, either financial or educational or
moral, through our direct efforts and initiatives. Each one of us has
to do our bit to see a better society.

from:  arun gupta
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 18:50 IST

These guys are amazing. Bureaucrats , please learn how traumatic is to live with Rs.32 per day in city. Open your eyes.Give the whole world a realistic picture.

from:  hariharan
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 18:26 IST

Highly unbelievable that youngsters like Tushar and Matt would undergo such pains just for experimenting. Anyway its an eyeopener to most of us who are spendthrifts and really are wastrels.....New resolutions to help the underpriveleged from now on as much as I can.

from:  Urmila Ramesh
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 18:17 IST

This is what is called 'Living by Example'.Wish all those ministers did
this at least for a day, so they can relate to things they talk loud

from:  Haripriya
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 17:05 IST

Really a wonderful article i came into know after long time ... thanks to hindu for sharing this... hats off to Thushar and Matt... you people should lead the country...

from:  Gobi
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 16:40 IST

Good effort tushar n Matt ... I respect ur thought .... It's makes me think twice before I could spend on something needless.

from:  Anusha
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 15:56 IST

Make a good change in somebody's life every day and see how the world will take shape. Just donation to a organization is not enough but try to be the part of the process through which the benefits reach the needy ones.

from:  rahul
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 15:23 IST

please see that there is big difference between experiencing and living the kind of life..may be its big time these two brilliant guys to explain big group of brilliant guys around wild wide..

from:  abhin
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 15:21 IST

I just do not have enough words to express my feelings... OH!! a great
job by you people.... I always wish I could live with the poor, in their
places, experience their feelings and help them... You people started
the journey... there is a long way to goo......... I wish you all
success in your work and have a very good health so that you help the

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 15:17 IST


Not sure why these concepts were excluded?
- A simple Ration card (forget abt the BPL card) provides for rice,
daal (lentil), wheat, sugar, oil and kerosene at a highly subsidized
- A simple Bus or Train monthly pass is available at a pittance
- A rented small house can be managed in under 1000 Rs in non-metros
or in a small town or village
- Cooking gas cylinders plus the stove is given at nearly free of
cost by many state-governments provided you can prove the total
income to be under 10 grand a month
- The entire article confidently avoids mentioning government
hospitals and the near free medication provided (albeit with
corruption). India is one of the only countries to provide HIV
retro-anti-viral medication for free, same for rabies, snake-bites,
polio & the list is long

Hopefully the participants will do a reality check & compare oranges
with oranges
Has their MIT & Investment banking mindset closed their eyes towards
government poverty mitigation actions?

-- Nagesh

from:  Nagesh
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 15:04 IST

Thanks for reminding me. from today onwards i will save some money from
my salary and spend it to the people who really in need. Good Job. Thats
the power of India. India is not a poor country. Indians are poor, they
can enjoy and spend money on his/her valentine, but cannot help poor,
even they donot want to think about them.Please do something for poor
people. i think we should open the NGO or open some social website for
them. What do you think Tushar & Matt? I am waiting for your reply.

from:  razia
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:57 IST

I felt humbled after reading this article. As somebody commented
earlier, almost everybody knows that it is impossible to live on Rs 26 a
day and the misery doubles if you have to a family to feed, but how many
of us would have the courage and determination to actually live in those
conditions? To be honest, not even me. Matt and Tushar have earned my
respect. Well done guys !! But are the people who have the power to
change all this,listening? :-/

from:  Sarath
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:53 IST

Mr. Mander, it is a good read indeed.
We all agree that a food bill (as proposed by you) is necessary. But
the problem is there in its execution. We have seen the way PDS has
failed. Start as a pilot project, prove that it can be executed well
then only implement on a massive scale.
Kudos to the two young men!!

from:  Kumar Raghvendra
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:51 IST

What a heartning (and heartbreaking) experiment. I would love to connect to these people and find out more about what they did. Is it possible to join them? I am sure for women surviving on that income will bring about different dynamics.
Please start a community or give us contact adress of these people if they have a plan to do more on the lines they did.

from:  Pearl Sandhu
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:46 IST

It was really an eye opener... i spend so much on useless things... after reading this... i have decided... to spend some part of money to the people who are in need... thanks guys...

from:  Tanuja
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:37 IST

Venkat and his family, unlike most of us, prefer to live in the real world by accepting and working with whatever they were born with. Rather than chase lofty dreams, Venkat wishes a content life by not taking for granted what he has; something that the rest of us might consider small. His son has willingly decided to follow in his father's footsteps at the same club. Venkat believes that in today's world good intentions, more often than not, leads to false hopes and expectations; that nothing good will come of people expecting others to change without changing themselves first. What Matt and Tushar have done is definitely commendable, but their story forms only one face of a coin while Venkat's story covers the opposite with equal applause if not greater.

from:  Sid
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:36 IST

We need young n bright minds of India to come out of their shells to really understand the avoidable suffering of the poor. That's when political reforms will happen and democracy will truly function. Well done Tushar n Matt. Truly Inspiring!!

from:  Praveen Balineni
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:35 IST

As a result, questions sprang into my mind that wouldn't let my mind rest until answered. When the weekend finally arrived i decided to pay the club another visit and luckily for me, i managed to catch up with Venkat when his shift finished that afternoon. After a conversation for over half-an-hour i shook his hand and left feeling a bit relieved but even more sheepish than before. Compared to what Venkat saw, everything that i'd come to understand about the world we live in could've been summed up in one single word - 'short-sighted'. Venkat is a proud 42 year-old father, who has served the catering industry for the better part of two decades without any regrets. His ambitions may fall short by our standards but nonetheless he's happy. When i asked him if he ever felt that he could've achieved more for himself and his family, he said with a genuine smile, that his ambitions were only as 'great' as his own skills.

from:  Sid
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:35 IST

As a person working on food and agriculture issues there are times I lose hope and think that this is all I can do. Then comes something likes this, which tells me that I can't give up hope, and all of us can do something and should do something and there is no choice about it!Matt, Tushar, thank you for showing us that young people today care !

from:  Devi
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:35 IST

Hunger and malnourishment alone aren't responsible for anger. 'False Hope' is in fact responsible for far more negative sentiment amongst people who are underprivileged. Let me pour in my thoughts by narrating this incident - I always pay a regular tip to all the bearers at a club i visit twice a month irrespective of my order. On one occasion i happen to pay a bearer(Venkat) a little more than the usual, not because i was feeling generous, but because i didn't have the usual amount in exact change. To my surprise, Venkat promptly returned the difference from his own pocket! When i asked him why, he said that it would neither be fair to the other bearers nor myself. Even after i refused the difference by pointing out that the other bearers would never follow his attitude, Venkat simply said 'Someone has to set an example'. Dumbstruck, i left the club with a sheepish look. I spent the following week thinking long and hard about what Venkat tried to convey.

from:  Sid
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:34 IST

It can be surprising for those two who apparently come from wealthy families and have spent a considerable length of their life abroad. For us belonging to the lower middle class, the feeling is not so alien. We don't need this article or the two NRIs to tell us that Rs 26/day is insufficient!

from:  Mukundhan
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:22 IST

Much appreciated article and described it in very practical way. Our politician should try to spend even one day with 32 rupees before setting such poverty line.

from:  Chetan Dodiya
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:18 IST

Unless a person lives like this for atleast a month, he should not be allowed to be a head of planning commission or a prime minister. Forget in a village, even in the comforts of your own home, it will be difficult to live for even a week if you decide to spend only Rs 26 a day on food. Really shaken to imagine that we need many more things in a day for even average middle class city life in addition to food.

from:  Jatin Parikh
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 14:12 IST

Its easy to live for 26 a day. As 26 is for villages, just make a hut like a crow makes his nest, and eat vadapavs for ₹5 * 3 = ₹ 15. Take bath in the local stream or river[with soap once a week]. Save 1/2 bucks per day and buy 2 sets of clothes after 10 months! Good luck.

Ohhh..yeah dont forget to be proud for the fact that your PM may be roaming around in a Bentley!

from:  Ramachandra
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:57 IST

What I learned from those brave young men, is to look at what I can do..
The waste of human potential because of poverty is enormous. Instead of
feeling sad, and angry with the system, I am exploring the possibility
of what I can do with my education, wealth and experience that can
narrow the divide even a tiny bit. Good luck to all of those who have
made it a part of their calling in life..

from:  Antony John
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:42 IST

"This longing or yearning is the main drive behind material progress whether in China or India or anywhere else. We also have the option to live like Ramana Maharishi or other Sanyasis. A majority will always want more and more of the comforts including for example a hot shower on a cold day."

To a T.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:40 IST

nice but in India there are people living without doing any work and
earning im=n lacks and crores , cant you beleive they are our

from:  skv
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:25 IST

I really thank to The Hindu for publishing this article, an IT person like me to know about entrepreneur Muruganantham, who’s a great innovator and doing good social work to the rural people of India, I salute him…… Good job, please keep moving forward Muruganantham.

from:  S.A.Vijayaraj
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:10 IST

Brilliant way to put the point across. Article nicely presented too. As pointed out, 'empathy' is the word!
My best wishes to the two gentlemen :)

from:  Anbarasu.R
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:04 IST

Great Job Matt & Tushar!! Hope every other indian learn from their expereinces and helps the second half of the population to earn their daily respeactable food.

from:  Pankaj Jain
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 13:04 IST

This article really throws some flashing light to our society. "That hunger can make you angry." This statement is hundred percent true. Tushar and Matt created a general awareness to Indian people.

from:  S.A.Vijayaraj
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:43 IST

Good attempt in understanding an average Indian. This line "That a food law which guarantees adequate nutrition to all is essential" might be taken in a wrong light. Are we saying that we need to give food for those also who do not want to work for it or earn for it. I am only meaning all the abled and physically and mentally fit people of this country. To appease people by giving free food is easy. To make them earn their living and giving opportunities for it is what will truly alleviate poverty not only from India but from this entire selfish world.

from:  ShyamSundar
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:38 IST

To put it mildly,there is plenty more scope for improvement by our government in matters as basic as this! Awesome experiment by you guys! Tushar & Matt,it is definitely an eye opener to us all who live comfortably secure without giving much thought to people who are hanging on to life by a thin thread of a measly sum of Rs.32 a day!

from:  Karen Wolfe
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:34 IST

Fate of India: Rich is becoming richer and Poor is becoming poorer. This exercise has proved the fate of India.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:31 IST

The present education system or the working culture of youngsters from the middle class/Rich family doesn't give them any chance, to think on issues like these.They are brainwashed by Bollywood/Cricket/Media...etc., On my 21 years formal education in rural and urban places, still i haven't come across any single formal subject/course/event that aimed at giving an exposure to students on these matters. As far as i see, the administrating/governing society of this country wants to keep it's people under dark. There are crores and crores of rupees of public money spent on self publicity of administrators, but they weren't interested in publicizing the things like these.

from:  Aravinth
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:27 IST

Glad to know that guys are figuring out our country's staus. Is it enough to blame only the poor people for their poverty? Does it mean that they don't work, have gone lazy, don't even regret for their status in this society? Absolutely not. In fact, they work harder than the people sitting in AC rooms, who do well qualified jobs. So if they are educated,will the level change? I guess its very hard. There should be some people to do agriculture, road cleaners and all other stuffs. But they don't get enough wages. The saying "Poor becomes Poorer and Rich becomes Richer" comes true. So we should treat them equally to bring them up. This lies in all our hands to change our society.

from:  Sangeetha
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:23 IST

I think the so said govt. should themselves try to live on this Rs.32(or Rs. 26 in a village) a day, at least for a day, and find it for themselves..!!!!!

from:  Riyas
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 12:05 IST

I bow down, on sticking on to ur experiment, even though u were burning ur calorie and still running out of energy, not able to meet the required amount of food for a day!!!!!!....The govt. never opens its eyes...and even if it atleast they open a quarter of it's eye, thus trying to allot some amt to the poor and needy, it'll never reach them, coz they wud be already eaten by the remaining greedy govt. officials midway itself, who are much above this said 'Poverty line'!!!....and these poor people, never get anything, even if they were 'about' to get them..And suppose by some way, the poor comes to know abt the allotment, and goes to a govt. office to get their rights, these heartless people will ask for bribe and shoo them away..Democratic India!!!!!!..

from:  Riyas
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:59 IST

Atlast, somebody had the courage to test the 'poverty line'. Appreciate the efforts guys!! As expected, the experience is terrible. Given the background of these guys, they may fit well as members of planning commission in case they are interested. Also, I would ask them to plan such that this effort does not go in vain. In a country like India, wasting efforts and results is easy. Making them visible to the public by struggling through the barriers in producing an efficient bill/rule will introduce "What PEOPLE can do in a DEMOCRATIC state" to the community. Wish you all the best guys!! Hope you will surpass all the hurdles and provide an improved and elegant bill to the commission. Well, it is up to commission to decide how to justify the efforts of PEOPLE.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:58 IST

Did this understanding changed the life of the two men in question any way such that it helps to improve the life of rupees-26-a-day people? Without the change the story in incomplete and this is only a thrill experiment like a roller coaster ride in a posh amusement park.

from:  Sunil Puliyakot
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:55 IST

So if you have a food law, all the poor will automatically get food? Why isn't the PDS working? First tackle the corruption before coming out with another law that will only feed the middlemen and politicians.

from:  Ashok Trivedi
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:50 IST

The realities of life are bitter. Majority of Indians go through all these atrocities every single day. Every morning they are unsure whether they will be able to afford two meals for the day. Hats off to these two gentlemen who took the courage of leaving the comfort of their homes and going through this experiment. I think it should be an eye-opener for the Planning Commission of India and the officials should be made to go through similar experiments before setting such ridiculous limits for the poverty line.

from:  Himakshi Gupta
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:40 IST

Hats off to these two young lads, forces all of us to introspect and hopefully change some of us from within... Quick observation - given these guys were living on subsistence earning, did they try and make use of the subsidized food that they were entitled to? Did it manage to alleviate their plight at all? This is in no way to lessen the miseries which millions are subjected to, but to understand the efficacy of policies on which we spend thousands of crores.

from:  Shishir Gupta
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:39 IST

Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations......congratulations to both of you have done a splendid job.....not by living in an 'artificial poverty' for some days but by getting the taste of this part of life, by feeling by living by sensing this life from so near....i know its easier said than done and to comment a post is even easier but since you have accomplished this gargantuan feat lets hope it translates into something tangible and concrete in terms of some ideas or was courageous on your part to do what you have done and i guarantee that any initiative on your part will sure be productive......All the Best bros.....

from:  Md Hidayatullah Tuli
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:39 IST

It was great to know that there are people who have conviction and strength to do things as challenging as this !! I think this should be an eye opener for those who think Rs 32 is good enough to sustain in country like India !!

from:  sneha kaushal
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:14 IST

Kudos to the two young men. They have blown the myth circulated by 'babus' in air conditioned offices in Delhi and other State Capitals. These young men have proved that hunger and under nourishment creates more anger than anything else. Hopefully the 'babus' and their ministers wake up to the fact and address the issue.

from:  mani sandilya
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:12 IST

The two have gone through the problems of bachelors.Just imagine the problems when they marry,get one or 2 kids,old parents to be supported and the other minimum things in a family life.I agree hunger, makes all angry. But it is not only hunger due to poverty is the cause of anger.My rich grandson yashas at the age of six would be throwing things around and also crying loud.His mother would tell him calmly,"Baby you know why you are angry and crying,because you are hungry,". She would then make him eat and he becomes normal.So anger and hunger need not be from poverty alone. Again we could raise the people above the poverty line by individual efforts.For that the hearts should change.Literature with these ideas would help to attain that culture. Avviyar had said,'Aram seiya virumbu.Iyyam ittu Unn.' valluvar had alloted in full athikaram titled for 'Virundhombal' telling about giving food to others. And Purnauru had said about Seven vallalgal who knew nothing except giving.

from:  seshachalam gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:07 IST

The questions listed under the heading 'Plenty of questions' remains as an eye-opener. We go to restaurants trying to have a happy meal. In the mean time, what we fail to understand is that the same meal, if had at home can give us more happiness. An average family is no longer living a standard life. The standard life has been upgraded to 'lifestyle'. I really don't know if it is the right direction. Thanks to Mr. Mander for this article.

from:  Nanda
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 11:02 IST

Salute your courage.

from:  sunita
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 10:50 IST

An admirable endeavour by Tushar and Matt. A hurting but true projection of innumerable days lived out by those who can afford little. Even a washing soap is a luxury for the poor. If such is the state of affairs 64 years since Independence, what is the progress we have made? Do we have any moral right to describe ourselves as a rising superpower? Let alone superpower, where is the power?

from:  Balagopal P. Menon
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 10:50 IST

Yes. The amount fixed by Govt. is ridiculously low. The seniors in the Planning Commission should be made to live for month on the quantum they have themselves fixed and set their eyes on reality than on calculators. In 1980 I was a Branch Manager of a Bank in Nagavedu Village, near Arakkonam, Tamilnadu. Many a times I had been in tears seeing the plight of the poor people. And was angered with the Government officials who demanded bribe from them for each and every activity. I remember reporting to then Collector and managing to get some relief from corruption. When I gave a loan for sheep rearing which consists of a unit of 20 sheep, the poor man kept the sheep inside the hut and he and his family slept outside the hut, thus protecting the sheep. Because now that was their only possession. Look at our shameless political class. Looting the country in hundreds of thousands of Crores while the poor go hungry and without a roof. It is a shame on every citizen of this country.

from:  Dr KB Vijayakumar Ph.D
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 10:25 IST

I salute these two young boys for trying this. I am sure as they earn more riches in their lives, they will continue to think of the under privileged and serve them in any possible way they can. They may also start influencing people around them. This is what the world needs today.

from:  Saminathan
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 10:19 IST

Kudos to you both!!One really needs a big courage and even bigger heart to even think of this, let alone trying. What an innovative and inspiring way of finding one's own life experience ! I am awed with deep respect for these brave souls! A real eye-opener...God Bless.

from:  Geetha Ravichandran
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 10:08 IST

What a powerful thought... hats off to Matt and Tushar!

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 10:01 IST

I guess it was a fun experiment for both of them. But this is how most of the people live in a country that boasts of being the world’s 3rd largest economy. Basic necessities are not available to so many children.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 09:45 IST

Trying to imagine and actually living a life we see on the other side of the cloud is another thing altogether. Salute to both Tushar and Matt. I have also read most of the comments above. Of course our system is at fault but I ask a very simple question to myself 'why have I done to make someone (on the other side) live in such conditions?' I learnt this long ago 'its how live, the choices I make in life also affects someone's life somewhere, so think and choose carefully'. I don't waste my energies blaming or pointing fingers at system but look within how I use resources, how live my life so that it does not take somebody else' share, I just like to be aware and alert of my own action. As someone mentioned above that if we contribute Rs 1 each, it would make a difference, I would say if we 'Do Not Waste That Rs. 1 worth of resource' we have left if for those don't get'. Each one of us need to be more caring, aware and sensitive. That's it. Rest will be taken care of.

from:  Alok
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 09:08 IST

my heart felt thanks to tushar and mutt. can we request this activity on a sample basis. at least a week to our MLAs, MPs, cabinet ministers. direct down to earth field work is essential to our policy makers. even in the great maharajas used to do the field survey about their rule and peoples welfare. unfortunately our policy makers chambers are filled with false politicians, majority lacks the probity.

from:  trivikrama
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 09:07 IST


from:  Hemanth Mantri
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 08:48 IST

Those questions are indeed disturbing. But, at the same time, socialism is not natural in a diverse Ecosystem. Where lies the balance? Is that balance acceptable to all? What do we do if that is not acceptably to our near and dear? Leave them like Gautama? Questions, questions... Where should these questions lead us? Where are they leading now?

from:  Manivannan
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 08:38 IST

Hats off to the two young men of India who think alike to think differently! It is a treat to read the article. More than that, the whole article gives a perspective from the eyes and experiences of those who have seen luxury to how an average to a below average lives their life. It is then a BIG switch in living habits that can show us the Real Indian living in the poorest of homes... I may not be able to dedicate my life living the way Tushar and Matt relived their life...but I can make the necessary changes to rethink about my financial expenditures, so that I have more to give those who need most...:)

from:  deepa
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 08:34 IST

What these guys did was really admirable. I can sort of relate to their experience, in that I spent over a year living in a slum in Chennai for my research. I slept, bathed and (most of the time) ate in the manner of my neighbors. But unlike the your men featured in this article, I made no attempt to limit my spending. (So unlike them, I could: buy filtered water, keep a motorcycle for transport, pay someone to cook for me, take an occasional meal at a restaurant.) But there are two ways neither their experience nor mine is able to gauge the full extent of life in poverty. What we missed: 1) the long hours of difficult labor that the poor must perform for that money (and poor treatment that often goes with it), and 2) the subjective experience of constant insecurity. When it is just an experiment, you know you're not an injury or sickness away from something much worse.

from:  Nate
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 08:33 IST

What did you do today to help?

from:  Anil
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 08:32 IST

Does one have to live poor to understand or emphathize with the poor? And, does it take UPenn and MIT graduates to tell this story? The fault for India's poverty lies mostly with India's politicians. These two guys should live for a month with an average Indian politician and report to us what they find.

from:  John Laxmi
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 08:32 IST

Good way to know first-hand about the lives of the poor people. I would like to know what their future course of action is, based on their experience and conclusions. I am sure that we all will be able to implement that in a micro-level in our own lives. As of now, let us take a list of things on which we spend money unnecessarily, save that money, and utilize it for the good of poverty-stricken people in our locality.

from:  Gireesh Nambiar
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 06:07 IST

I salute the two of them for what they did. But things will never change in India. The rich are gonna get so rich that they would rather eat their money than food. And the poor are gonna get poorer. And I m writing this as an Indian who is sick of the political scenario in India. A Country with more than a billion people and yet we are run by a group of corrupt officials who steal our hard-earned money and pocket'em.

from:  Abiishiek
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 04:44 IST

Very eye-opening and scary.

from:  Rohit Ramachandran
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 03:59 IST

Well done...but....what happened other than this news???

from:  Jake
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 03:57 IST

Good to see such acts by young people indeed! And good to see us appreciating and applauding this act, which shows the empathy hidden in us for the millions of people living in such a condition (well 'us' as in the above). But to bring back some skepticism, when are we going to act on this empathy? Isn't it high time we (including me of course) act on this? For example, how many people from the above actually did something, however small/negligible the act is, for these millions, after reading the article? For a fact, I know I have not yet. But thought I will put this thought down. Maybe some of us will be quicker to act on this feeling than myself.

from:  Ava
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 03:48 IST

one feels something beyond words for these two brave humans and one's own ignorance, apathy and sense of shame-those fortunate to have 3 square meals a day and still whining, complaining, when more than half of the world is going hungry...India is one such country...this crisis is world over. but we start making the difference locally-one person a day..skip a meal in a week..saving energy, strive to feed one hungry child, take care of one old person..maybe we will emerge from plague of poverty..

from:  mtg
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 03:31 IST

I am impressed with these guys. They'll become great citizens of india. I tend to think this exercise has helped them more than anybody. However what does this prove or achieve? A sense of awareness is created. which is a good thing Also it proves its hard to afford anything in this increasingly complex social world for 1.4+ billion people. The reason poor have been been poor due to lack of food/nutrition.. Average human requires atleast 2k calories for their brain to function normally.. The list is endless. I will be glad to see if someone actually offers a solution than an experiment.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 02:44 IST

I could not help myself noting comments blaming things on the system. But before one that an important thing that is written in the article itself is - 'empathy is essential for democracy.' This thing one can practice in their daily life itself.

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 01:30 IST

First thing - kudos to these guys. Knowledge that Govt. has fixed Rs 32 a day as poverty line is something different from experiencing it. These guys have experienced that. Second - Is there some way of forwarding this article to Prime Minister and Finance Minister of India ? If yes, please do that.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 01:22 IST

Fantastic! A very laudable effort. One only needs to open their eyes to see the plight of the poor. However most of us conveniently close our eyes and pay far more than Rs 100 for a cup of coffee or tea. Instead of making food affordable we are ensuring that the prices are kept high just to satisfy vanity of the well to do people.

from:  Vijay Modi
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 00:21 IST

Thank you Mr Harsh Mander for giving us this story. It takes the experience of comfortable people fitting into poverty to break the apathy and reflect the irrelevance of 'pro poor policies'. Hope you will continue to provoke our consciousness towards such conditions of living suicide.

from:  Grace Jajo
Posted on: Feb 13, 2012 at 00:03 IST

The position of Tushar and Matt is wrongly mentioned in the photo.

from:  sisir
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 23:20 IST

A Wonderfully written article. I hope that the experience of Matt and Tushar does make us more sympathetic towards the plight of those who face this situation everyday of their lives. On a lighter note, I have an innovative idea. Why not make it mandatory for our MP's and MLA's , busy looting the nation's resources and the tax-payer's money, stuffing themselves with ridiculously subsidized food at their official canteens, forever demanding higher allowances for attending the Legislature and essentially making a mockery of democracy, to mandatorily undergo what Matt and Tushar voluntarily did? Perhaps then would sense dawn on them that concrete reforms and policies, not exaggerated rhetoric, is what Indians need.

from:  U Bhattacharyya
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 22:20 IST

Amazing....I remember the news when they started this...dazed at the fact that they actually saw this they can authoritatively talk about those messed up norms and decisive factors.

from:  Nijil
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 22:07 IST

Thanks for making two NRIs hero Mr Mander. I must say Harsh Mander is Rich man's P Sainath ! Keep it up and enjoy your job at NAC.

from:  Sharad
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 21:09 IST

a very touching description...

from:  aditi
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 20:39 IST

It is a matter of great pride and happiness to know that people like you guys exist even in this century. Today most people once they secure good job and start earning good salary often tend to take no notice of the pathetic life of the bottom section of society. I do wholeheartedly appreciate and admire the indomitable courage shown by yo u guys to come to the domain of an average indian and live there. Your act shall defintly serve as an eye opener to the people and I also do pray that this noble gesture of yours shall pave way for expediting legislations in this regard.

from:  Jos Antony
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 20:36 IST

It is truly commendable job done by these two guys. I hope that their young minds and real time experience on poverty does not stop here and comes up with a innovative and practical solution. Education is key to eradicate poverty. Poeple also should try to work hard to eradicate their poverty like some other countries. We all can make a difference by cutting our expensive and unwanted purchase on branded things henceforth. As an individual we cannot help a lot of people, but collectively we can acheive many things. Please everyone should think about this matter deeply and put our efforts into action. Hope we change our nation's poverty scenario and bring cheer and light into everyone's life.

from:  Lakshmi
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 20:31 IST

Thank you for the wonderful article and the sharing of your experience. If only there was a program for all youngsters to undergo perhaps three days experience living as you did they may realise that branded clothes perfumes and malls are not at all essential in the larger perspective and they would have more empathy for the poor. More important is for our lawmakers to undergo such an experience which may set them on the path of formulating laws to alleviate their plight.

from:  Lakshmi
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 20:01 IST

I think education will surely help alleviate the poverty to some extent, provided they keep it accessible. Real education. I congratulate both of them for their conviction in whatever they did.

from:  Amit Langote
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 19:27 IST

GREAT WORK GUYS!!!!!!! When guys around you are sitting and making money & spending it on stupid branded clothes, perfumes, gifts and going to parties & discotheque, you did something different & sensible. And, thanks to Mr.Mader for this article.

from:  Ramalakshmi
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 18:42 IST

This is the power of you guys- the youth ! you can make so many more feel reality and touch them enough to think about it. Thanks for writing about them.

from:  Renu
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 18:21 IST

What an innovative and inspiring way of finding one's own life experience ! I am struck with deep respect for these brave souls!

from:  sunil ganu
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 18:15 IST

Great job guys! As someone who went through a similar experience as part of a fieldwork, I can easily relate to your experience. Indeed, 'hunger makes one angry'.

from:  Vinay Sankar
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 17:03 IST

Hope some of our ruling ministers and politicians read this and realise that the limit they have set for poverty line is so ridiculous.

from:  Surabh
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 16:43 IST

I am moved by your experience. It takes a lot of courage, every step of your journey. You have my respect. I'll always have this story in the back of my mind and will try to help people in need as much as I can.

from:  Mahima Kukreja
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 15:24 IST

These two should be included in the policy making exercise for the next poverty alleviation program. Government has a lot to facts to unearth. These two can communicate the language of poor and explain the best meaning of Rs. 26 per day.

from:  Mohan Rao
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 14:39 IST

There are 1.3 billion people living in India. Let us say half of them who are better off than the downcast 400,000 very poor, were to donate 1 rupee each every day to a CSR Fund and this Fund were to spend it transparently in public view to provide basics (food, house, health/sanitation, clothes, education kits, etc.) to relieve severe poverty in a series of selected centres of poverty in the country every day. This will be a damn practical way of alleviating the misery faced by the wretched of India every day. Inch-by-inch progress of the sort will transform individual lives for the better. Let me know when actions like this, rather than sheer experimentations, start in India. The day projects like this start being implemented will prove that Indians are at last becoming compassionate towards their really deprived!

from:  A Gujadhur
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 14:36 IST

it's always been frightening to think about living onto the officially announced wages by the indian national policy of mere Rs.26 per day in a suburb...i mean how is it just possible man to live on such a low wage????the policy makers and the deadline setters should think of it seriously...The two guys have really done a great job after doing such a great least the govt. should be ashamed by watching these types of activities and they should do at least some arrangements for the uplift of those below poverty line..

from:  kundan kumar
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 14:08 IST

Congratulations Tushar & Matt on a month of sacrifices and a very meaningful experiment. Hopefully we will see some seriousness in the Government of India's response to poverty.

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 13:39 IST

Salute you both for the guts to give it a try. It's harsh but this is true for millions of poor Indians. When I think of it, too much greed from the rich people is what's kept them in that condition. Only Education can change this. Corruption has to go, rich has to become selfless and the big chunk of middle class needs to open their heart and mind for a better tomorrow.

from:  Mansoor
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 12:17 IST

Got Tears reading the lines : "We may have treated them as strangers all
our lives, but they surely didn't treat us as that way...”

After really long time read something good from Mr.Mander

from:  Vivekananda
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 11:59 IST

Even without undertaking the staged life style of the poor, it is possible to discern facts of poverty. There is of course deprivation. Then there is prioritizing and triage in favor of a desired life style. Most of us choose to be materialistic and worldly and prefer to have the best of things, ice cream and iPad, the best and biggest of homes, the best of cars and electronic entertainment and so forth. This longing or yearning is the main drive behind material progress whether in China or India or anywhere else. We also have the option to live like Ramana Maharishi or other Sanyasis. A majority will always want more and more of the comforts including for example a hot shower on a cold day. We all want a higher standard of living which means lots of money. Congratulations to the two youngsters for trying out living on 26 rupees per day and finding that it is a deprived living. We knew this without trying their ways, but perhaps they can give us the matrix of possibilities.

from:  S. Char
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 09:38 IST

its a slap on the face of our planners & beurocrates. i can imagine the plights of millions who eveen cannot afford This.great job done.thanks

from:  shrikant
Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 06:33 IST
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