Living on 100 Rupees a Day

Last week Public Radio International reported on two young middle-class Indian men who spent three weeks in Bangalore living on 100 rupees a day followed by one week living at India’s controversial new poverty line of 32 rupees a day (roughly equal to 60 cents). “When you’re living on that amount, life is all about innovation,” says Tushar Vashishtin this story“…because every hour you’re thinking at least 10 minutes on that hour how you’re going to survive the next hour.” It's an interesting story that underscores many of the findings from Portfolios of the Poor: How the Worlds’s Poor Live on $2 a Day, foremost among them is that these two young men used savings to fund their daily existence. They didn’t experience the erratic shifts in daily income that characterizes poverty in India and other parts of the global south. “Somebody doesn’t pop out of the ground and give you $2 every day,” says Daryl Collins, co-author of Portfolios of the Poor, in this PRI story. “What is the most difficult is that sometimes it’s $5 and then it’s nothing and then it’s $1 and then it’s $2 and then it goes back to nothing.” Additionally, she adds “Somebody who is living on 100 rupees a day, they could indeed be living on 40 rupees a day because they are sending so much back home to the villages."

While we do have some misgivings about the experiment in "living like the poor," these two young men made their social experiment public (open both to praise and criticism) in their blog and continue to advocate for the rights of those living below the poverty line in India.