Everybody loves a cheap, vegetarian thali–II

While the nation gets titillated this week by Suresh Kalmadi‘s ravenous appetite, last week by the Reddy brothers’, the previous week by Sharad Pawar‘s (and his adorable daughter Supriya Sule‘s), the week before that by Lalit Modi‘s, the fortnight before that by Madhu Koda‘s, Thiru Andimuthu Raja‘s in the one before that etc, spare a thought for how little food inflation seems to exercise the grey cells of our neta-babu log.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee managed to assuage Parliament by dipping into jargon like “adverse inflationary pressure” to explain what’s happening to prices. But if there’s one reason why the fattened calves of our demcoracy do not “get” what burgeoning food prices are doing in a nation where half the nation lives below the poverty line–836 million Indians get by with less than Rs 20 a day—it’s because they have little or no exposure to it.

The latest issue of India Today carries the menu card of the Parliament canteen, and it’s a reflection of the dream world our MPs and MLAs inhabit.

Tea: Re 1

Soup: Rs 5.50

Dal: Rs 1.50

Curd rice: Rs 11

Vegetable pulao: Rs 8

Rajma rice: Rs 7

Tomato rice: Rs 7

Fish curry: Rs 13

Chicken: Rs 24.50

Rice: Rs 2

Dosa: Rs 4

Kheer: Rs 5.50

Fruit cake: Rs 9.50

Vegetarian thali: Rs 12.50

Non-vegetarian thali: Rs 22

Chicken birnai: Rs 34

Chicken curry: Rs 20.50

Butter chicken: Rs 27

This, when the average worth of each MP is Rs 5.1 crore.

This, when the average salary of each minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet is Rs 7.5 crore.

For the record, price of rice between 2004-08 shot up by 45 per cent and the price of wheat went up by 60 per cent in the same period. Below are the 2009 rates published by Indian Express to show how much unparliamentary “food inflation” has caught up with Parliamentarians in the Parliament canteen.

Vegetarian thali: Rs 12.50

Non-vegetarian thali: Rs 22

Sada dosa: Rs 2.50

Masala dosa: Rs 4

Dal (assorted): Rs 1.50

Soup with one slice: Rs 5.50

Four chapatis: Rs 2

Boiled rice: Rs 2

Of course, on top of free food, MPs also get plenty of free phone calls, free air line tickets, free railway tickets and a little pocket money in the form of MPLADs to play around with. Plus, on the last day of Parliament they also vote themselves another hike in their meagre salaries.


* Photograph used for illustration purposes only. The temple of democracy reserves the right to add, alter, switch items without prior notice depending on the day of the week.

Also read: Everybody loves a good, cheap vegetarian thali—I