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Savings is not in the agenda

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Santhi, who works in a garment factory in Tirupur.
Santhi, who works in a garment factory in Tirupur.

M. Gunasekaran

From vegetables to dhal to rice to kerosene everything is costly for Santhi

For 40-year-old Santhi, life has never been so difficult. The destitute woman came to Tirupur nearly two decades ago when she had no other choice to lead a decent living in Madurai.

She is a checker in various garment factories and earns around Rs.700 a week now.

“Going to cinema is a costly affair these days. Instead, I do checking work for companies (they give Re.1 for a dozen innerwear pieces) when I am alone at home to pass time,” she says.

To earn Rs.700 she has to work from 8.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

She is lucky if she gets work for two shifts and gets some hundreds additionally. Of the earning of Rs. 3,500 a month, Rs.800 goes as rent for her single room house and Rs.150 towards electricity bill.

From vegetables to dhal to rice to kerosene everything is costly for Santhi, who now takes care of her daughter and three-month-old grandson.

“I was able to manage things when I got a weekly wage of less than Rs.500 a few years ago. Now I could not manage despite getting higher wage,” she adds.

How she manages the price rise?

“We have to get ourselves used to the reality. I prepare sambar with only one tomato and two brinjals. We have reduced consumption of milk too,” she explains.

The Rs. 2-a-kg-rice scheme did not help her. “I opted for kerosene when I applied for family card. So I am not eligible for the subsidised rice.”

Santhi buys rice at Rs.10 a kg, which, according to her, is poor in quality.

Savings is not in her agenda and mobile phone certainly a luxurious one.

During emergency, she and her colleagues have to depend only on usurers.

“They give us Rs.800 and we have to repay it in 10 weekly instalments of Rs.100 each.

“You can see moneylenders visiting labour lines on Sundays. Our life goes with them and we cannot come out of the web,” she laments.

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