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Celebrity Interview: Aam Aadmi - Part II

Celebrity Interview: Aam Aadmi - Part II

September 20, 2010
Jayanth Tadinada

Whoever said "Success is just attendance plus luck" clearly got it wrong!

Welcome back to The NRI news network’s celebrity talk show, “Don’t walk the walk, just sit and talk!” We are interviewing aam aadmi – a young man from the slums of Andhra Pradesh. In the first part of the interview, we have discussed his childhood. A lot of interesting issues came out from our discussion on the way the poor perceive education and child labor. Let us continue our interview with aam aadmi.

Aam aadmi, you have mentioned in your CV that you are illiterate and unemployed...

<Interrupts>: That was a typo; I am not merely unemployed, but unemployable. I can’t do anything and most of the times I don’t even feel like doing anything!

Then what do you do on a typical day?

I joined the local Chiranjeevi Fans Association and am now an active member. It’s full of people like me. Whenever a new movie starring Chiranjeevi or his extended family releases, we tie banners around the town and celebrate by dancing near the theater. If there are no movie releases, then it gets boring. Sometimes, my friend who works as a mechanic gets a bike from his garage and we roam around on the streets all day. At nights, we usually drink local liquor and pass out only to wake up next afternoon!

Wow, how can you sustain such a life style? What do you do for a living?

I am a house owner.

House owner? What kind of a job is that?

The govt. of Andhra Pradesh gave me a house as part of its housing development project for the poor – Rajiv Gruha Kalpa so that I do not have to live in the slum anymore. I rented out that house for Rs. 1500 and continue to live in the slum. I am a house owner by profession!

Do you have any other sources of income?

Hmm… yes, elections!

Elections!?

Yes. Election season is a festival for all of us. Political parties pay 100 to 150 rupees per day, one biryani packet and liquor for attending election rallies and shouting a candidate's name all day! It doesn’t matter which candidate! It is one of the best jobs in the world. I wish there is an election every month.

How do you run a family with only 1500 rupees a month?

I have a white ration card which means that I get rice at 2 rupees a kilo, LPG at 150 rupees, dal at 30% of market rate etc. My wife also earns some money by working as a maid in four or five households which takes care of the kids. So this 1500 is enough!

What about saving for a rainy day?

That is taken care of the govt. too. I benefit from “Rajiv Arogya Sri” scheme which gives me medical insurance up to Rs. 150,000 in Apollo hospitals! So in case my liver gets bad from drinking all the cheap liquor, I can go to Apollo! Sometimes, when I am short of cash, I use the NREGA scheme for some quick cash where we don't do anything and yet we all get paid! I take my whole family if the weather is good. It is almost like a picnic!

It is very surprising... I mean with all these govt. sops, you can actually afford to be unemployed!

Yes, there are thousands like me with no skills, no prospects, no motivation, frustrated and a potential for violence. The politicians are aware of that. They are in fact shit scared about the situation. That is why they give us all kinds of sops during the elections to prevent us from getting angry. We have now reached equilibrium.

What kind of equilibrium?

I vote once in five years and in exchange, I don’t have to work for the rest of my life. Neither do my children! The subsidies and reservations once announced stay forever and they only keep getting better. Statistics may say that I am below the poverty line. The fact is all my sources of income are black money!

But you live in a slum, sleep on the footpath and wear really shabby clothes! How can you be content with this? Don't you want to live a better life?

As far as shabby clothes and sleeping on the foot path are concerned, that is my business model! You wear nice clothes and look like a person who lives comfortably in a clean neighborhood. Do politicians come to campaign in your locality and offer you freebies during elections? No, they just make you pay more taxes so that they can they can give us homes, healthcare, LPG and rationed food supplies etc.!

Are you suggesting that your life is not as bad as it is portrayed by the popular media?

You can say that. In the strange democracy that we have here in India, it is us – the illiterate, unmotivated and the unemployable that determines who is going to make foreign policy, solve our energy crisis, protect the environment and push for India’s place in the Security Council! We are the ones who determine the next leaders. The rich always have it easy anyways. It is you middle class people who have to pay the same taxes and live the same life irrespective of which party is in power!

But there are districts in India which are really worse off. People have to trek tens of kilometers just to get some drinking water!

True, I am not speaking for all of India. I know only about a few districts in Andhra Pradesh (and Kerala, where my friend Joseph lives). If you define poverty as lack of opportunity, it does not exist in these places. There are enough opportunities for everyone to survive and make a decent living. Most of us choose not to because we don’t have to. People from districts where things are really bad can come to our district and work because there is a lot of work to be done and we don’t do anything. In fact, a lot of them are already here. Whenever you see a road being built in Andhra Pradesh, all hard working daily labor are not the locals but immigrants from from poorer states like Orissa, Bihar etc.

Don’t you realize that a whole generation of idle young people is very bad for our nation? Small and medium scale industries are already very badly hit because of the shortage of skilled labor!

How is that my problem? I am a poor person who has trouble taking care of my family here! We have been oppressed for centuries by Brahmins and other upper castes and now you are blaming us for bad industrial growth too?  Haven’t we suffered enough for centuries? Blame the congress govt. for taking up only those projects which can be named after Rajiv Gandhi! Why do you want to drag the Gandhi family into this? Don’t you see the pattern? The congress govt. will do only those things that can be named after Rajiv Gandhi! In my village, there are no toilets for women. Someone told me that our country has more mobile phones than toilets and yet the govt. does not even invest one rupee in building toilets or improving public hygiene. Do you know why? Because toilets cannot be named after Rajiv Gandhi! (however accurate the accusation might be)

So your philosophy is that your forefathers have had to face a lot of discrimination on caste lines, so you deserve to “take it easy” for a while?

You can put it in those terms. But hey! We are not asking for all these, the politicians offer us most of the sops to win elections for their own selfish means. When we’re getting stuff for free, why should we reject it? What about the next generation? My son is now growing up and like all boys, he wants to be like daddy! He already understands that it is his right to get free food, housing and other necessities without having to work for it. He is a smart kid. My boy is going to live more comfortably than me!

If that is the case for generations to come, when will India become a developed country?

We’ve been talking for an hour now. Do I look like I care? All the freebies we get are the politician's idea of social justice! Why is it so unsettling for you that we have figured out a way to live in poverty? I have emphatically planned on staying poor! Do I look like I failed in life? I am passing on my genes just as successfully as you are. Isn’t it what all species strive for?

It has been wonderful and almost enlightening to talk with you aam aadmi. Thank you for your great insights. We’d sure like to have you back real soon!

Thank you.

That is it for this week folks. Coming up next: Is Bandra safe for Bollywood?

Irresponsible citizens continue to throw banana peels on the streets. Ekta Kapoor’s body guard recalls the horror of almost slipping and falling down while walking her dog! An NRI exclusive…

P.S: Thanks to Nanni :)


30 Comments

  • Rak
    By
    Rak
    07.05.13 04:15 PM
    daya ! Rich districts, poor districts...poor people in richer ones and poorer ones...It is not that simple a society to generalise .
    You used AP as an example which itself has Telangana grossly different from coasta andhra...

    well I agree that reservations are making people lazy, I see it as a transient phase ( The laziness). The competition is not going to be perpetually same .But it is very essential to safeguard their interests. ( well this blog is nt abt reservn alone,so i will leave it here)...

    Coming to subsidies..If someone from foreign country conclude that 'see you guys hav 300MT food grains. So none of you must be hungry and everyone is healthy too'...In reality it is not true. It is not that simple a conclusion. Now they give 6 kg of rice to adoloscent girls who are <40 kgs weight. You are saying it is a great luxor and they should just sit n relax.We all know that rice is merely used to make vadiyalu etc..not eatable. Even if eatable 6 kgs of rice is no where near sufficent to make healthy a <40kg girl ! All i will agree if anything is that youth (that too MEN ONLY) are lazy once they get money sufficient for their subsistence. Since most of them are not educated they even marry at a tender age..slowly they even start torturing wife and children for money. If I am a poor WOMAN who works in a farm all day to feed children and get back to home at night only to get beater by a drunk husband (Milllions of such women are there btw) then i would take this blog VERY offensive. The color tvs, subsidides etc are nowhere near sufficient in most parts of the country..which means u just cant generalise...
  • lets say aam-aurat
    By
    lets say aam-aurat
    21.08.12 04:07 AM
    I vote once in five years and in exchange, I don’t have to work for the rest of my life. Neither do my children.
    What about the woman-his wife who does all the house work and also the cooking aand the back breaking chores in 5-6 houses as a maid ???
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    09.11.10 10:46 AM
    Thanks!
  • very interesting
    By
    very interesting
    08.11.10 04:20 PM
    Very interesting article and written in a great comedic style. It's a great way of highlighting the problem and keeping it light at the same time.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    07.11.10 11:12 AM
    I am not blaming the lower classes for anything. I feel it is important to acknowledge the fact that there is a certain section of society who plan to live their lives like parasites without contributing much. The successive govt. had a huge role in this and if this trend continues, we'll surely have really big problems as a country.

    You should see R. K. Laxman's cartoons from the fifties and the sixties... they might as well be printed today and would still be funny!
  • avocado
    By
    avocado
    07.11.10 12:35 AM
    This is a weird article, and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It's almost like you blame the underclasses for the plight of the middle classes, when it is in fact the upper classes you should direct your rhetoric against.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    13.10.10 02:05 PM
    Another article which pretty much says what I was saying (with photographic evidence)... http://psenthilraja.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/nrega-national-rural-destruction-programme/

    I am not endorsing the conspiracy theory though ;)
  • flawsophy
    By
    flawsophy
    02.10.10 02:06 AM
    loved the "toilets cannot be named after Rajiv Gandhi" bit ... :P
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    25.09.10 02:11 PM
    @Rohit, Balaji and Peddamavayya: Thank you :)
  • prasad pgr
    By
    prasad pgr
    25.09.10 01:51 PM
    You are getting better dear.FUNtastic.Iam proud of you. Peddamamayya
  • Balaji
    By
    Balaji
    23.09.10 12:24 AM
    stud max
  • Rohit
    By
    Rohit
    22.09.10 07:51 PM
    Well, this guy is a typical aam-aadmi, who has good amount knowledge and most importantly ability to think deep... I wouldn't expect such a guy to know about India's place in SC !.

    These are the kind of persons who need to lead the nation, I feel. What about a post of "policy strategist" to this guy?...would he turn it down too? .. just to enjoy his poor life.

    But, it is a very thought-provoking story from your side, G2, keep it up!.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    22.09.10 06:25 PM
    @Afshan: Thanks :)

    but unfortunately, no fan mail yet...
  • Afshan Mujawar
    By
    Afshan Mujawar
    22.09.10 05:37 PM
    Have you started getting fan-mail yet??

    Excellent article. High on humor and reality. Loved it.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    22.09.10 01:40 PM
    @Mohan Meena: It is not a matter of perspective or opinion really. These things are *actually* happening in some places!

    @ Karthik: Thanks, I first started making these observations during the elections in 2009 :)
  • Karthik
    By
    Karthik
    22.09.10 01:32 PM
    Kevvu Keeka ra ne article. Article Chaduvuthunantha sepu navvuthune vunnanu .. I think you said this situation early to me in rjy(about elections).
  • Mohan Meena
    By
    Mohan Meena
    22.09.10 01:20 PM
    Nice article !!
    But it seems only a rich persons's perspective
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    22.09.10 11:38 AM
    @Sharell and @naash: Thank you :)
  • naash
    By
    naash
    21.09.10 09:05 PM
    nice humour !!
  • sharell
    By
    sharell
    21.09.10 04:11 PM
    I agree with Barnaby. Love the way this article was written. 8)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    21.09.10 03:31 PM
    @Satwik: Thanks man!
  • Satwik
    By
    Satwik
    21.09.10 12:24 PM
    Nice article. You are slowly developing a brand of humour that is just your own. Don't know how you are doing that, but awesome! Keep up the good work!
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    21.09.10 11:45 AM
    @Sourav: The situation I have described is not that of an urban setting but the rural setting in the prosperous coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh (which was mentioned in the article). Telangana has a great deal of problems and same is the case with Vidharbha region in Maharashtra faces (they are next to each other)...

    The idle poor I am referring are not just an Andhra phenomenon, one of the commentators in the part I of this article has mentioned that same is the case in most of Kerala too!

    I wanted to highlight the difference in attitude between the poor in well-to-do districts and the poor in impoverished districts. The poor in the impoverished districts are suffering from lack of opportunities whereas the poor from the richer districts have a different problem all together!
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    21.09.10 10:09 AM
    The poor (aam aadmi) referred to in this article is urban. But what about the rural population? They are not the ones who ignore opportunities. Infact, all the government schemes don't even reach them due to the corrupt middlemen, lack of infrastructure and lack of awareness. Andhra Pradesh ranks number one in girl trafficking. Poor and desperate people end up selling their girls, just to stay alive. AP ranks immediately after Maharashtra when it comes to farmers committing suicides. We are faced with the great Indian paradox- impoverishment amidst glut, and a country with a high GDP growth fighting a battle on hunger.

    Bangalore looks fine when I travel through its streets. But travel 30 kms from Bangalore in any direction and I will see poverty. Real Poverty! I believe it is the same with the 3 IT giants- Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. There is scarcity amidst plenty.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    20.09.10 11:52 PM
    @Sourav: Can you explain how the argument is wrong from a different perspective?

    Yeah, it is sad and unfortunate but it is largely true!
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    20.09.10 11:12 PM
    Your article is disheartening, sad yet true from one point of view and false from another. Andhra Pradesh ranks second in number of farmer suicides. Though states like are Bihar and Orissa have suffered due to lack of opportunities, AP does have its own problems.

    I admire the way you have weaved threads of the modern Congress govt. policies. I love your style of writing, and have been following your articles for a long time. It is an honest article, and I must say, it left me thinking...

    I really don't know if I should praise this article or not, cause somewhere it pinches. Yet I will recommend this to my friends, merely because of the thought process it evokes.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    20.09.10 08:58 PM
    @naash: elaborate please...
  • naash
    By
    naash
    20.09.10 08:44 PM
    am disappointed in u
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    By
    Jayanth Tadinada
    20.09.10 07:43 PM
    @Barnaby: I knew it! I knew that the first comment is going to be about the banana peels in Bandra :p
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    By
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    20.09.10 05:23 PM
    Great stuff, Jayanth. It's funny, sad, and true.

    I'm very interested to hear more about these banana peel throwers. What savages.

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