Autorickshaw Economics

I had a brief conversation with our autorickshaw (better known to you perhaps as a tuk tuk, in India often called just “auto” since they are so common) driver in Madras today on his finances. Of course he had every reason to inflate his expenses and lower his income, since he was telling me these numbers primarily to justify a higher fare (for an hour’s rental), but I had a sense that at least some of the numbers were true. I think it’s interesting to hear what people make do on here, and thought you might as well. He is a local (Tamil) man in his mid 30s, with a wife and two children, “one lady one gent.” Monthly figures:

Rent Rs. 1500, after utilities Rs. 2000 ($50)
School fees Rs. 750 (~$18)
Food expenses, including his meals during the day Rs. 3000 ($75)

He estimated total monthly expenses at around Rs 7000-9000 (around $200). He told me that rent for his autorickshaw is 200 ($5) per day, but I couldn’t quite understand what he was saying his income was. His general point, though, was that he just barely meets his expenses. [By way of local comparison, a young man from Hyderabad who said that he worked in the IT industry said that starting salaries were Rs. 20000 ($500) per month.]

After he told me this, he asked me what my salary was. I couldn’t help but be evasive and not answer.

One thought on “Autorickshaw Economics

  1. I have heard tech jobs from the U.S. that get moved to India end up costing the employer one-seventh what they cost before, all included, after the move. That is, seven workers in India can be employed at the same cost as one tech worker in the U.S. And, apparently, at one-seventh the salary, the workers live like kings over there. I have a former coworker (natively from Southern India) who made such a move.

    What I really wonder is how much those Indian call center employees make. Can’t stand them. And why do they have to assume Western names? Like it’s not completely obvious!

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