Post 24, Sargana

Zaheeb Ajmal reports:

The overnight rains have resulted in waterlogging outside Harish and Pradeep’s homes, with people having to wade through knee-deep water in order to enter and exit their own homes.

8:15 a.m.: Harish is at the bazaar, buying household provisions. As we chat, he tells me that he hasn’t received the cooking gas cylinder that Pradeep’s family has received. In fact, only two families in the entire hamlet have received cooking gas cylinders- Pradeep’s family and the family of Harish’s own elder son Ram Kishore.

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

“You see,” Harish explains, “The government provides gas cylinders to households designated as living below poverty line (BPL households). Only Pradeep’s and Ram Kishore’s families have been designated BPL. So they receive the cylinders. We have applied to be designated as BPL. Lets see what happens.”

“[Under India’s Public Distribution System (PDS),] BPL households are entitled to 5.5 kgs of rice, 3.5 kgs of wheat and 2.5 litres of oil. But we have to buy our provisions from the open market, which is way too expensive. Of course, Ram Kishore shares his entitlements with us. But he has his own family to look after. These rations can’t be used for all fifteen of us (referring to his wife and himself; and his three sons and their families).

“Anyway, I have applied for a cooking gas cylinder in Ram Kishore’s name. Lets see what happens”