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In another case a widow with five children, two of whom were working
and the rest quite small, consumed in the month :-
Rs.
a.
p.
1/2 Phara bjri
2
8
0
2 Pharas rice
7
12
12
1 Paili dal
0
6
6
and for firewood, ghee, oil, condiments
and miscellaneous expenses
7
8
0
...
18
2
0
In another case the budget of a family, consisting of a man, a working
youth and a young non-working child, was as follows :-
Rs.
a.
p.
Rice
7
8
0
Flour
1
8
0
Ghee
1
0
0
Dal
0
6
0
Oil
0
6
0
Fuel
1
8
0
Kerosene and matches ... ...
0
6
0
Salt
0
2
6
In addition the family spent about Re. 1 per month on tobacco, the man and
working youth smoking from 8 to 12 biddis a day. The barber was paid 4 annas
per head each month, or a total of 12 annas. The total expenditure on
necessaries, excluding rent and clothes, was about Rs. 14-8 a month. In this
case the man explained that as he could not afford to keep his wife in Bombay
she remained at home in her father's house. Occasionally her husband sent
her Rs. 5, but to do this he had to borrow and was getting deeper in debt.
These figures help to explain the appalling overcrowding in Bombay; for it
is clear that when the majority of workers have paid for their food and clothes
and the few luxuries in which they indulge, such as tobacco and an occasional
drink of toddy or liquor, they have little or nothing left; and under these
circumstances they cannot afford to hire a single room to themselves.
18. As the worker in Bombay has to spend a very large proportion of his
earnings upon food and fuel it is clear that the fluctuations in the prices of the
chief necessaries of life must affect him very greatly; and the larger the
number dependent upon the wages of one worker the greater will be the effect
of such changes. A single man without encumbrances earning from Rs. 12 to
Rs. 15 a month will only spend from one-third to half of his wages on food; and he
has a margin of income to prevent him feeling the pinch, as far as the restriction
of diet is concerned, should a rise in prices of as much as 25 or 33 per cent. occur;
and even if prices were to double there would still be no necessity for him to go
short of food. But it is quite otherwise with the labourer on whom a wife and
family are dependent. Even at the best of times the vast majority of poorer
households in Bombay are only just able to obtain necessary shelter, clothing and
food and they are often forced into debt to do this, especially when the purchase
of new clothes, the occurrence of a birth or death or some other need arises for
expenditure of an unusual nature. In this manner many thousands of the working
classes in Bombay, among both casual labourers and those in regular employment,
are forced to live from hand to mouth, taking their ordinary meagre diet of rice
or bajri when they have money or can borrow and going short from time to time
as a matter of course. To these people fluctuations in the market price of food
and fuel are of vital importance; and there is no factor which exerts a greater
influence upon the health conditions of the masses in Bombay than this question
of the cost of food.
But it is probable that the question of high or low prices is not so important
as that of fluctuations. If prices are uniform, whether high or low, a popula.
tion adapts itself to the condition; but fluctuations, especially when they are

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