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Decade decoder: did life chage?

Savoury shopowner Shyamapada Koibarta started his business 30 years ago in a local market atop the Ayodhya hills in Purulia. He replaced his mud hut with a one-storey concrete house five years ago. Shyamapada says his earnings have increased three fold in the past 10 years, but not his savings. He holds the hike in prices of essential commodities as the reason for being unable to save much

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

  • Name: Shyamapada Koibarta.
  • Age: 61.
  • Education: Class V
  • Family: Wife Sabita, 48, a homemaker, son Deepak, 14, and daughter Nirmala, 12. His eldest daughter Lalita, 23, got married two years ago
  • Place: Chatni village, nearly 45km from Purulia town

Do you earn more or less, compared with 2004?

More. Almost three times more.

Do you save more or less compared with 2004?

It is almost same, sometimes less. This is because prices of essential commodities have increased remarkably. In addition, we are now also acquiring luxury items. For example, ten years ago we used to buy soap which used to double as a shampoo. Now, we buy a shampoo. Besides, now we use two types of creams for winter and summer instead of mustard oil.

What things does your house now have that it didnít have in 2004?

A second-hand motorbike.

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

Ten years ago, we had to depend on a private bus that used to ply between the Ayodhya hills and Purulia town. Now there is a state government bus as well.

Do you shop round the year or only before Pujas or Diwali? Has this changed over the years?

Only before Pujas. There has been no change in that. I used to give my wife and children two sets of clothes each and I still continue to do this. I cannot afford anything more.

Do your children go to school?

Yes, to the nearby government-aided school.

Has the mid-day meal made any difference?

Yes. When my children used to go to primary school, the mid-day meal was an attraction.

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

Vegetables used to be our daily diet. Now we have fish and chicken sometimes.

Have you got an Aadhar card? Why? How does it help?

Two months ago I got an Aadhar card. I heard it is more effective than the voter card. I havenít got any help from it as yet.

Do you encounter more corruption or less in daily life? Can you cite from personal experience?

Two years ago, I wanted to dig a well in my house because we had to fetch drinking water from a tube-well which is a five-minute walk. But the local panchayat did not give me permission. Some members demanded a bribe which I couldnít pay.

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

In April last year at Gajan Mela, the local fair.

Do you have a cellphone? How old is it? Did you have one before you bought the current one?

Yes, I have a cellphone and I bought it one year ago. No, I didnít have one before.

Describe the biggest change in your life since 2004

There has been no significant change. In 2004, I had no bank balance. The situation is the same today.

What is your biggest regret in the past 10 years?

Ten years ago, tourism used to be a source of income. But from 2004-2005 tourists stopped visiting because of Maoists.

Your biggest achievement in past 10 years?

The day I rode my own motorcycle.

Are you happier or sadder now? Why?

A bit sadder now. Every election, politicians make promises about bringing development here. But once the polls are over they forget about us.