Capitalist mind, socialist heart

Act 1. An unusually heavy work day leaves us with neither enough time nor energy to cook. So I am asked to dial a Pizza place for delivery.

PizzaOverly complicated nerd that I am, I feel good after ordering Rs 300 worth of this cheesy import. I used the phone to place my order, that should put some money in Airtel’s and BSNL’s coffers. Pizza will be delivered in a colorfully printed box, which I am sure will boost revenues of some printing shop in Namma Bengalooru and some factory in Orissa that produces paper. The pizza will be delivered on a scooter, so my money is going to reach some Bajaj employee at Pune as well! Now, don’t forget that delivery boy who owes his employment to patrons like myself. And, let us not even talk about making of the pizza itself, you know ‘maida‘, cheese, vegetables and stuff.

That is how capitalism works I am told. Move the money. And put some in every pocket.

Act 2. Next morning. Our maid is in and is cleaning up the kitchen. She spots the empty pizza box. Not sure if she looks forward to tasting a slice – we usually save one or two for her – not everyone likes pizzas. But as she prepares to crush-fit that spent paper box into the trash can, she spots the bill that is stapled to it.

“Rs 350, hmmm. If I were to manage that money, it would be worth at least 10 meals for my family.” Is this what she tells herself?

Act-1 was my overly thinking mind, and act-2 an overly imaginative heart. But I do want to ask around if most of the blessed Indians like you and me have capitalist minds and socialist hearts.

PS: Some older thoughts similar to Act 2.

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17 Responses

  1. Unfortunately because of IT/BT/BPO jazz in Bangalore , the gap between poor and middle class is increasing in rocket speed.
    Result = Poor folks suffering. We techies never care for price..we just goto forum mall and buy branded shirt paying Rs 2000.
    But that poor maid may be earning Rs 500 per month..I think IT/BT/BPO definitely blessed Bangalore economy but at the same time living condition of common man (I’m talking non-IT average man) is becoming worse day by day.

  2. NRI, I do agree with you that we don’t usually think too much before spending more money in an hour, than what someone might earn in a month.

    That said, I don’t think that the living condidtion of the non-IT person is becoming worse. In fact, I would believe that it is improving (Act 1 explains why). It might not be improving enough to bring average earnings of IT and non-IT people at par, but it sure is improving.

  3. 1. The maid’s brother was the one that delivered the Capitalist Pizza.
    2. The Security Guard Agency that is engaged by this damn Capitalist IT/BT/BPO (where Mr Silkboard works) is the employer of maid’s husband.
    3. Maid’s son goes to a private Capitalist school because there are no teachers in the govt. run one (since they were not being paid they refused to teach) or they refused to teach english (which the maid demanded for her son).

    Damn the capitalists. Those Socialist days – when nobody had a job!!

  4. Very noble thought and nice post. That’s the perfect combination but we learn the lesson only when things get out of control- capitalism may have seemed to have won after the cold war but when it goes out of proportion, it can be equally bad as some civilizations have perished because of extreme disparities in wealth. Even among countries, socialism is not totally despised and market oriented welfare states is preferred instead of blind capitalism or socialism.

  5. Very noble thought and nice post. That’s the perfect combination but we learn the lesson only when things get out of control- capitalism may have seemed to have won after the cold war but when it goes out of proportion, it can be equally bad as some civilizations have perished because of extreme disparities in wealth. Even among countries, socialism is not totally despised and market oriented welfare states is preferred instead of blind capitalism or socialism.

    By the way, I agree with you on what you said about Salman khan on my post but the issue is how does one stop all that?

  6. I’d like to think I have a socialist mind and socialist heart :-) To me, the capitalistic thinking you have outlined seems more like a justification for this looting we are doing in the name of capitalism and liberalization. That doesn’t mean I have got out of the system. No siree. I am very much a beneficiary of capitalism, I work in the IT industry and living comfortably. But I am still holding out against accepting capitalism as good or beneficial to the country. Yes, call me a hypocrite, if you will. The way I look at it, I have compromised for the sake of paapi pet and family and all that, but don’t ask me to accept this system intellectually.

  7. A capitalist system which donates to uplift the poor in a social way should be the correct,controlled form ….
    cheers
    mohan!

  8. Mohan I don’t know what exactly you mean by ‘looting’ in the name of capitalism and liberalization. But I know that the state has been looting us all for past 50 years in the name of socialism. And the likes of you didn’t even realize!

    M O H A N – donating to uplift the poor too may not be practical. Any system based on charity can only do so much, it cant scale. Other thing is this harsh sociological truth – human beings don’t really like to donate.

    I don’t know what system works best. But, NRI, I do know that my maid and her husband put together make about 6-7000 a month. And that is due to the things Apun ka Desh listed above.

    I think the path (liberalization, controlled capitalism or whatever) we have started on is really for the best. Lets just hope the extreme disparities in wealth (to copy Hiren‘s phrase) don’t get out of hand to create social disorders.

    BTW, the divide/disparities will always be there. But these wont matter as much if
    1) incomes and living standards at lowest levels rise above a certain minimum level. As Sajith said, it seems to be happening, but perhaps a bit slowly.
    2) there are somewhat equal opportunities for everyone to rise.

  9. Whether it is capitalism or socialism or any other ism.. you name it.
    One thing is for sure.. if you are earning the money in a truthful way.. you have every right to spend it the way you want it. Be it 300rs for a pizza or 50rs for a road side t-shirt! You earned it, you spent it!

    Contrary to the common opinion, a maid does not actually earn any lesser.. I knew of a maid who used to earn close to 6000rs a month. These people don’t pay rent, electricity bill etc as everything is free for them or they would have “illegally” taken them.

    But yes, I agree that there is disaparity in wealth… but what can an individual do for that? It’s more for the government to do. To set some rules and minimum wages and standards.

  10. Economics and Ideology be damned my dear Sb. You express the dilemna that is the basic angst of every decent minded human being- while wanting conveniences and possible luxuries(never mind they are expensive and not really in the realm of aesthetics) we grieve over those who cannot afford basic amenities.

    What worries is really the other opinions. The Free market which forms the basis of capitalism has been replaced by corporatism and that we all know is a breeding ground for inequity and that is what is being perpetuated by the rather lopsided growth in India these past few years- I dont know about the liberaization you talk about other than the rather expanded choice we have for useless consumer stuff (cf your own write up on mobile phones) and the rather liberal real estate sharks!

  11. hot cold girl guy “The Free market which forms the basis of capitalism has been replaced by corporatism ”

    Oh we pray thee.. to enlighten the lesser mortals on thy corporatism and such … knowledge. What worries is everybody else’s opionions… Ouch. it hurts.

  12. IT / BPO folks are causing inflation in bangalore….
    the real estate prices soraing is a perfect example.

  13. Most of us are suffering from this problem of choosing between capitalism and socialism. May be thats the reason Nehru came up with ‘mixed’ economy!!

    even i think the same silkboard. I eat the pizza and then think. Using this 300 rupees i could have had at least 9 meals at Hotel Siddhartha (mysore). I think your maid could have managed more than 15 meals with that 300.

    When i had been to bengalooru last time, i noticed prices very much higher than mysore. Even the lady who sells vegetables tells more rate. I have seen my mom bargaining even for one rupee. But now a days u cant dare to bargain with them.

  14. This is silly man. The govt. collects huge taxes then fails to use it for the good of the people by bribery, mismanagement, and stupid ideas – and then citizens start blaming themselves. Forgive me i earned Rs 100 today, i paid taxes which went into buying television sets for distirubution to fool voters in tamil nadu, but i dying out of guild. WTF.

  15. Shark – yes, she doesn’t earn any lesser.

    Vin – that is a short term Deve Gowda like though. Half the Bangalore earns its money directly or indirectly from IT/BPO industry. Even your favorite politicians.

    Hotgal, Jaanu, Dasappa – Let me better phrase my ‘concern’. Not exactly the disparity in wealth, it is disparity in “opportunities” that worries me. If the state funded schools were to be good quality, and sustainable employment opportunities existed for low skilled folks who wont have resources to clear college, if state funded health services were to be better quality etc etc – I wouldn’t think of all this. Jaanu dear, it isn’t “guilt”, it is frustration.

  16. I take it Apun ka Desh longs for the free-market capitalism of Uttar Pradesh, which only makes the international news when it is hit by famines. So much nicer than the nasty socialist safety nets and strong unions of Karnataka!

  17. […] how exactly does that travel ‘downstream’. If you remember my pizza thought (Capitalist mind, Socialist heart), similar worries apply there as well. How do I know that every time I pay for an overly expensive […]

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