From electricity to fuel, food to rent, bills have been the topic of discussion everywhere you look these days. The government's recent attempt to reinvigorate the economy came with a slew of reforms. This, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is an attempt to ensure a balance between fiscal deficit and government subsidies while at the same time reducing prices for the aam aadmi.
In Delhi particularly, per capita income is 2.5 times the national average, but Delhiites spend more on power and water. The Capital ranks as one of the least expensive cities in the world, according to a September report by Swiss Banking major UBS. But for India, Delhi ranks in the top five. Fuel and power in particular have been breaking backs. The central government recently hiked the price of CNG by Rs. 5 and reduced the subsidies on LPG and diesel. "I use 6 kilos of CNG each day, so a Rs. 5 increase means Rs. 30 more - that's Rs. 900 in a month. The government basically took away the diet of one person in my family," says Ramprasad Rawat, an autodriver who lives in Mayapuri.
Diesel prices went up by Rs. 5 and the number of subsidised LPG cylinders was reduced to 6 per year. Following that, 10 days ago, the price of non-subsidised LPG cylinders was also raised by Rs. 127 in Delhi to Rs. 883.5. Sheila Dikshit's government did take steps to limit the impact of these measures on poorer sections but this barely compensates for the increase seen in the likes of the power sector. In July, power tariffs were increased by 26%, the second hike in ten months.
What are Delhiites needs and are they being met with the salaries they draw? We spoke to an economic spectrum to see how they earn, and spend. Some are comfortably placed yet others suffer; some have a bright future while others see a bleak horizon. A closer look reveals a stark contrast in the way Delhi lives.
Compiled by Furquan Siddiqui, Neyaz Farooquee, Pankaj Mullick, Samar Khurshid and Srishti Jha