Jan 8, 2008

Our Paisas??

In the year 1998 I had an opportunity to live on my own outside India. My experience of shopping in the US gave me a glimpse of Buying Power. I did not bother much to buy a $1000 handy cam, which if I had to buy in India at that time would not have been possible simply going by cost of living at that time. A car costing half a million to couple of million dollars were available too. No I couldn't buy or even dream of one of those, but Americans could buy such expensive cars.

But shopping at a mall or a mexican grocery shop was reasonable for me. At the counter the girl generates a quick (no mental math even for a 10 + 90 + 1.30 + 5) automatic billing machine. Prints out $2.35 + tax. Say around $3.11 something. I would have change 10+5 cents. I pay $3 and 15 cents and walk out. She calls me back, hands over the change 4 cents (four 1 cents!)

There were days when my father could not afford to buy us crackers on Diwali. We were not rich or even medium rich. My favourite lunch at school, if I did not take lunch from home, used to be two buns or/and a mango - with salt and chilli powder smeared (I just loved it.) I remember I could buy 200 tiny biscuits for just Rs 2. My pant pockets used to swell with load of those biscuits :) We grew up with tiny paisas. A rupee could buy soooo much....

Paisas: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25 denominations. Where did they all go? I could fill my stomach for a lunch with just Rs 2! Why did those paisas go extinct?

There were days when a beggar would accept 10 Paisa or even 25. Today 5 rupee is minimum. Even the useless beggar has no value for anything less than that. The least coin you can see now is 50 paisa.

But America has its 1 cent even today!!!! They have 1, 5, 10, 50 cents (Cent, Dime, Nickel to a Dollar.) Why? I wonder how? Sorry I really don't understand the currency economy.

The most robust economical country still has value for a cent, and a developing nation like India has no value for even a 2 rupee!! We do have lot of poor people in India who could have had most need of the lower denominations for their small expenses everyday. You have Rs 2 items in sachets today in India, just because the poor can buy them.

We will be a rich country again when we get back those 1, 2, 10, 20 paisas. Don't you think so?

For the first time in my life I tasted the 'extra' money I earned working extra hours as IT consultant in California. I did not even know that such arrangement existed between business. The consultancy company that used my skills and services to support their clients, charged the client on a hourly basis on me. During IT boom, the hourly price was very high for an experienced software engineer. But we wouldn't get the entire amount if we weren't on our own. Consulting company takes a good share and passes on the rest to us. That was good enough for us. We earned well. We could go on vacations to Hawaii, East coast, Florida Cruise what not! That was possible because I could charge for every 15 minutes of my extra work. We used this extra money for our extra entertainments :) In India I round it off to one hour! We don't care for those buffer times.

So what did it mean to me with regards to paisas I have been talking about? Every hour counted! Every minute counted! Time is Money. Time has Value. Time you put in the project has value. Time in project is perfectly planned out with no wasting of time. Every minute is estimated, resources are costed, time frame as planned was maintained. Why were they so damn serious about it? Simply because Time is Money.

A burger with Tomato, Onion, Mayonnaise, 1 chilly will cost me about $2.49. For the same burger with No Tomato, No Mayonnaise I would pay $2.10!! Of course the tomato and mayonnaise has a cost associated with it which has to be counted. Thats the market economy.

If Time is Money for Indian government, if government employees of all departments work efficiently within the time and maximize production, our tax money paid as salaries to them and welfare of their children will all be worth. If government cuts on running 100 cars when 2 or 5 cars is good enough to fetch a minister from airport to his office and back to airport ...or sometimes even to drop his son at school and buy grocery on the way to his house...they will be concerned about the Time and Money.

A young boy works in a motor repair/mechanic shop. He would be paid a small salary. He lives at that rate for years. No increase of his salary, no worry about improving his lifestyle. If he was paid by hours, if he was paid for the value owner derives out of the boy's expertise, if the boy's health is compensated sincerely in terms of proper medication....the business does well. Time converts to money, Better performance gets more work on hand within less Time. And everything else will be taken care of. How is your car repair cost estimated? How is labour cost estimated in private businesses? What parameters from the economy is taken into consideration?

At a local vegetable market you sure experience improper weighing (a bit less or more) of whatever you buy. Quality of the vegetable is hardly questioned by most. You have no choice. Vendor has his last say. Who controls the vegetable prices? What determines the price at once place in a city to another? Within Bangalore you can get 10 different prices for 1 kg of Tomato in different areas. The aggregate loss and gain in this market is benefited mostly by vendors and wholesale suppliers, not the consumer. Consumer is always at a loss either paying more for less quantity and quality or value for material which no one has control on. This is another story about how the value for an item is degraded regularly everyday.

Hope we get back our 1 paisa. It will, when the economy affects value of a material and Time counts Money.


Uma said...

so, is India going forward or backward? Just Curious. :)

Rama said...

A very thoughtful post. It has given me so much to think about. Yes, time is money. But how many of us realize that? Now, with the boom in the economy (to what it was 30 years ago), the buying power has increased tremendously. We see crowds in any shop, be it a mall, super market or a jewellery store or a shop selling shoes. But for how long?

Another thought that struck me is, if the rupee really strengthens against the other currencies, will it bode good for India? In my opinion, it might just not be too rosy as we have quite a bit of work outsourced to us because of the value of the rupee. Well, my two cents :D

Digitally Inspired said...

Never notices this missing point in my pockets.....It's a golden chapter. suchin....

Suchin said...

thanks shijo. its worth keeping those paisas with its antiquity value. we can use them FIRST someday!