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Decade Decoder

Laxminarayan Patnaik is a retired high school teacher in Jeypore, a small town in Odisha. When he retired in 2003, the salary for his last month in service was Rs 8,000.

His pension, which started at Rs 4,000 a month, now stands at Rs 10,000, higher than his last salary.

Name: Laxminarayan Patnaik, 70
Profession: Retired high school teacher
Education: Certified teacher after intermediate
Family: Wife, son and daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter. A daughter who is married
Place: Odiya Medri Sahi, Jeypore town, 25km from Koraput

Do you earn more or less, compared with 2004?

The salary before my retirement in July 2003 was Rs 8,000 a month. Now my pension is more than that.

When I started my job in 1962, my salary was Rs 80 a month. I am also getting Rs 1,600 a month as rent from a tenant who lives on the top floor of my house

Do you save more or less?

I save around Rs 2,000 a month. I can save more. But I am spending on the education of my grandson and granddaughter. In 2004, I was not able to save as I was staying in a rented house and my children were not employed

What does your house now have that it did not have in 2004?

My house itself is a big asset that I possessed in 2004. I purchased it at Rs 2.65 lakh by using all my pension benefits. I have added furniture and have got a computer at home, a fridge and a TV

How did you travel then and how do you travel now?

I travel by public bus and train. I travel in 3rd AC in train. Earlier, I used to travel in sleeper class

Do you travel abroad?

No

Do you have a car?

No. I have a motorcycle

Where do you buy your grocery from?

From a wholesale dealer. I make bulk purchase for almost a year. I only purchase vegetables daily

Do you have an air-conditioner?

No. I have fans at home. I have 2 acres of land in Dantaput village. I have donated 2 acres in the same village for a high school

Has NREGA (the rural job scheme) made any difference to your life?

Yes. When I visit my brother’s place in Balia village, around 15km from here, I find that the road is good. The road has been constructed using funds from NREGA

Do your children go to school?

My children have completed graduation more than a decade ago. My grandson and granddaughter are now going to school. They are studying in an English medium school. I am spending for their education. The standard of education in the government school is not good

Is there a difference in the food you can afford now and what you could 10 years ago?

Our food habits have not changed. We are taking the same kind of food. I do not go to restaurants or any other food outlet

Have you got Aadhaar card?

Yes. It is just another identity card. I have not used it for any purpose.

Do you encounter corruption more or less?

Corruption is there as before. If you go to a government hospital, the doctor will ask you to visit him at his clinic. There, he will charge you for consultation. If you go to tehsil office, the clerk will indirectly ask for “kharcha” (tips). If you do not give, your work will be delayed

What was the last movie you have seen and when?

I used to watch movies in halls before 1979. I have no interest in films. I take interest in spirituality

When was the last time you ate outside home with your wife?

Last month, I had gone to Visakhapatnam, around 220km from here, for my eye check-up. During the three days I stayed there, I had food with my wife in a hotel

Do you have a cellphone?

Yes. A Nokia set I have been using since 2005. I have not changed it. I had bought it for Rs 5,000

What do you do with the cellphone?

I use it for talking to my son and daughter. My son is a medical representative in Bhubaneswar and daughter is a schoolteacher in Jeypore. I do not watch any film on it

Do you go on holidays or pilgrimages?

Yes. I and my wife go to Gupteswar temple, around 50km from here, once a year. We had been to Allahabad and Rishikesh in 1999

Do you run out of money to buy food around end of the month?

God is kind to me. I have never faced such a situation

Do you have more or less clothes compared to 2004?

I have 30 pairs of clothes now because my students gift them to me. In 2004, I had 10 pairs.

What is the biggest change in your life since 2004?

Both my children have got jobs and they are well settled. I have my own house

What is your biggest regret?

Nothing as such. My wife is not keeping well. But she is getting best treatment possible. I am taking her to Visakhapatnam.

Are you happier or sadder?

I am happier. My biggest achievement is the peaceful life I am living here. When I step out, I get respect from everybody. My students respect me with folded hands when they see me on the road.

Decade Decoder is an occasional election feature that seeks to

bring out through a question-and-answer session whether lives have changed for the better or the worse in the past 10 years