I was at one of Bangalore’s famous bakeries the other day. Never had heard of any of their fresh baked cookies, never tasted any of them either; the only point of reference was my friend’s opinion. One taste of the cookies and I was totally blown away – incredibly tasty and soft, the melts-in-your-mouth variety.
We lost no time in ordering 100 gms of the plain cashew variety, 100 gms of the chocolate plus cashew variety and a 100 more grams of the almond filled variety.
Standing beside me was an elderly man dressed in a a dhoti and a white, soiled kurta. He was accompanied by a kid, probably his grandson. The kid was wearing clothes that weren’t worn out or soiled, but looked tacky all the same. He was trying hard to get the shopkeeper’s attention, all the while pointing with his outstretched hand at a mouth-watering chocolate pastry enclosed in the bakery window. His grandfather though, was trying hard to cajole him as his choice of pastry cost more than they could bear to spend. You see, in the other hand of the kid was a 5 Re. note and a 1 Re. coin.
6 Rs. My own grandfather, when he was alive, would buy me things worth more than that from bakeries in that old town in Kerala. But that was way back in the early 90s. Almost two decades of inflated prices and scary increases in customer spending power hence, what do you get from a bakery for 6 Indian rupees ?
The plight of that kid and the old man made me shed a silent tear. I don’t think a lot needs to be said about the disparity in living conditions in a country like ours. I see a lot of money being spent by people around me, on things that are not really a need, only an object of desire born out of excessive wants. And there never seems to be an end to it.
I have never felt more strongly about the need to cut down on wasteful expenditure. I have never felt more strongly about the need to start giving back to society. In terms of money and in terms of intellectual and social capital. I hope one day I can really put all this education to good use. And I hope that quite a few of the students graduating this month from India’s elite management institutes will too. One day.