Skip to main content

Happiness, street vendors, and negotiations......

Few days back I was watching a documentary series, "India's Frontier Trains". The three-part series was on trains connecting India with its neighbours - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Yes, there is a train connection between India and Nepal, and that train is the only functioning train for the whole of Nepal.

In the episode on the train between India and Bangladesh, the program documented a life of a chocolate seller inside the train. He boards the train in the Bangladesh side of the route. A sole bread winner for a family of four, he earns by selling chocolates in the train.

He faces a perennial problem: because of hot weather conditions, his chocolates melt. In those hot days, his earnings are meager. A basic cooling device like this costs seventeen pounds and he couldn't afford that.

What moved me was the insensitive nature of some passengers in haggling with this struggling chocolate seller. They would force down the price by 10 pence or more (which is more than 10% of the product price) by telling one reason or the other. This seller, faced with poor sales, often gives away discount.  

Finally, the seller manages to save money and buys a cooler for seventeen pounds. He brings home the device, and the entire family was so happy to see their priced possession on one of the important festival days, Eid. They had no new dress, nor they had costly feast. But the sight of a new cooler was enough to bring joy in their life.

The program ends by showing how this chocolate seller is able to make more money due to the new cooler.

Often, when we meet roadside vendors, the relationship is unequal. The vendors are poor and have pressing family situations, and we (the salaried with stable income) are under no such pressure. So its easy to bring down the price. A saving of Rs 10 or Rs 20 makes us feel good. But what if we don't haggle. I think we will discover new relationships with sellers, and over a period of time, they wouldn't over price just because we don't haggle.

I think we need to go an extra mile to make these unequal transactions equal. Can we?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

'koil madu' and myself........

'Koil madu' is a Tamil term used to describe the cows that are tied to the temple. It is there forever. In literal usage, the term can be used on people who spend loads of time at religious place. I might fit that description well. Haven't missed many Sunday church services. If I have to put a number, I would have attended 39 out of 40 years of Sunday services.

Last Sunday, the preacher at my Delhi church was referring to Ecclesiastes 11: 1 and 2. In the last few years, I have started to like the Message translation of The Bible. This version uses modern day language, yet it captures the true meaning of the root language. So I referred to the Message version when the preacher was mentioning these verses.

These verses I haven't heard before and it was sort of like an eye opener on what the Bible says on charity. I have been a 'koil madu' but haven't found this verse for this long. It was profound. Check out the verses:

"Be generous: Invest in acts of ch…

How not to spend taxpayers money

If you're wondering how best your tax money is spent, then you should look at how Telangana's Rythu Bandhu Scheme works. The state government decided that it will give Rs4,000 per acre as investment incentive to all farm owners. The biggest benefit would be farm mechanization by small landowners who otherwise may not have opted for machanisation. So far so good. 

Here is the interesting thing: the incentive per acre is given to all farmers irrespective of how much land is owned, or whether he is actually tilling the land. 

So a farmer with 200 acres of land, will pocket Rs 8 lakh of public money (money that you and me pay as tax), and in all probability, he is filthy rich and is not even tilling the land. 

Anyone with any semblance of knowledge of rural economy will say there are a vast number of tenant farmers (people who don't own the land, but they till and share a portion of the product with the landlord). Telengana government in its infinite wisdom decided not to include…