The Cost of Living: Of Milk and being a Lakh-Patti

Posted on November 2, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development
33 Comments
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Adil Najam

Our educated chattering classes do not consider it sophisticated to talk about milk.

(Photo Credit for this powerful picture: Baba Dody)

They would much rather spend their time pontificating about global geopolitics, the power politics of our would-be-saviors (both those in power and those waiting to come back to power), the intricacies of conspiracy theories about ‘hidden hands’ and not-so-hidden motives, and trying to read the ‘real’ story ‘between lines’ even as they ignore the stark realities of the lines themselves. Of course, for others there is always the option to belch out slogans reeking of pious religosity or self-righteous modernity.

Ultimately, however, you need to think about the price of milk. Because milk is a necessity and slogans are merely a distraction.

I know enough economics to know that while improvements in macro-economic trends matters, they matters much less when the cost of living and making ends meet for the citizenry at large run contrary. We at ATP have been and remain quite concerned about everyday inflationary trends. As we have stressed before, there is something very wrong when the denomination of the highest value banknote (Rs. 5000) is greater than what is considered a decent monthly wage for a middle-class Pakistani! We have also written about just how much it really costs ordinary Pakistanis to get petrol. Now, it turns out that the cost of milk – a daily necessity – is on the rise and moving in the same direction as the cost of petrol.

Many of us tend to think of Pakistan as a place where things are cheaper than in Europe, the US, the Middle East, or elsewhere. I don’t want to go into the math again (see here and here), but this graphic from The Daily Times (3 November, 2006), reminds us yet again that the real cost of living in Pakistan is not just higher than in most other places, for ordinary Pakistanis it is exorbitant.

The text in the graphic reports that most companies have raised the price of their one-litre packs of processed milk, and what used to sell for Rs. 30 is now selling at Rs. 38. Moreover, it reports that the price is likely to increase further.

All of this reminds me of a post Mansoor had recently written in Karachi Metroblog where he posed the question “What exactly can you do with a Million Ruppees?” The answer he came up with was, ‘Not too much!’

A lakh-patti (One Lakh=100,000) is not necessarily rich and depending of how many ‘lakhs’ one has, may even be poor!

The really sad part is that despite all this, most Pakistanis will never know what a Lakh Ruppees look like. And it is we, and not just the ‘authorities’ who are need to accept the blame. For those of you who like to get agitated about things, get agitated about this: The cruelty in society comes not only from the actions of those in power, but from the neglect, the silence, and the inaction of all of us. Indeed, from our willing participation in keeping things as they are.

33 responses to “The Cost of Living: Of Milk and being a Lakh-Patti

  1. Watan Aziz says:

    Our educated chattering classes …. spend their time pontificating about global geopolitics, the power politics of our would-be-saviors (both those in power and those waiting to come back to power), the intricacies of conspiracy theories about ‘hidden hands’ and not-so-hidden motives, and trying to read the ‘real’ story ‘between lines’ even as they ignore the stark realities of the lines themselves. Of course, for others there is always the option to belch out slogans reeking of pious religosity or self-righteous modernity.

    So, now we have a good definition of the “gitter-mitter” crowd!

  2. Adil says:

    i am stunned to know this facts , although the denomination of the highest currency note as compared to the average vage of a pakistani teacher or labour or anyone really gives a horrible ppl
    well they say the economy is on boom !!!!!!!!! i dont know what that means
    does it mean that thinking of money for daily utilities is so big for an average pakistani is a booming idea, and his mind goes boom like thats just an impossible task
    May God help us and wake us to our concious so we can realize what we are supporting , and who we are supporting
    and what we are doing to the poor of pakistan by not doing or even saying anything , not asking for change and going towards positive
    i m speechless now
    Adil Umer, UK

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