I met up with a handful of friends at a social gathering recently. Most of them were IIT-ians and invariably the topic of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and of Arvind Kejriwal came up. It was only a matter of time before one of them brought up the issue of water subsidies introduced by the AAP while in power in Delhi. He was referring to an observation made by a columnist that the 700 L of free water was a pro-rich measure. The theory put forth in the article was that poorer households have more members and hence need more water than the affluent, and so it is the rich who benefit from these subsidies.
As usual, everyone weighed in. Some felt the subsidies were populist measures. Others felt it was a creditable move on the part of the government. I then popped the question, “Do you know how much water you use in your house in a month?” Not surprisingly, no one in the room had an answer. This is the reality. Most people, even among the educated class, do not know how much water they consume and many have no idea how much their water bills are every month either.