Monday, Aug 15, 2022
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Montek Singh Alhuwalia

I don’t quite understand all the hullabaloo about the Rs 32 ceiling for the urban poor for this figure was not arbitrarily arrived at.

Montek Singh Alhuwalia Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu

I don’t quite understand all the hullabaloo about the Rs 32 ceiling for the urban poor for this figure was not arbitrarily arrived at. We did our homework before we concluded that those who could spend even a rupee more didn’t qualify to be labelled as poor. Why, at home, my wife Isher and I did our own Rs 33 experiment to see if we could have three square meals a day and have some money left over after. The day we chose for our historical test was a muggy Sunday evening (but with the AC in full flow, it was more like Kashmir in spring at our home on Aurangzeb Road). And, yes before I forget, in our endeavour we were helped by Paul Frugalman (ex-CIA and now head of microscopic studies at NASA).

Incidentally, I had already drawn up a menu for dinner. And I’ll have you know it was a five-course meal? For starters, there was caviar torte, consomme julienne soup, spicy red beans and rice, carrots and broccoli salad and Danish pastry for dessert. And all this washed down with champagne. (Isher, who is careful about what she eats, chose a light meal of black bean, corn and tomato salsa salad).

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