Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


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What does 1 dollar buy?

With one Indian Rupee one can buy:
1.One candy, sometimes two mint fresheners
2. One match box
3. One page photocopy
4. Normally one SMS
5. One Indian Mail Postcard (within country)
6.Painkillers, emergency drugs for cardiac attacks (sorbitrate), cure for allergies, indigestion and urinary tract infections.
7. You can get a button sewed in Kolkata for Rs. 1.
8. Eraser, candle, rubber bands, razor blade, nails from hardware store (six for Rs. 1) Zipper puller
6. 5 ml coconut oil sachet.

What does 1 dollar/pound/Franc/Euro or whatever your currency buy?

  • Jul 2 2013: Buy an apple,plant it's seeds,next there will be many trees,repeat the process then you'll see,a way to feed the worlds hungry.
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      Jul 2 2013: I'm sorry but that does not answer the OP's question nor is it directly relevant, i suppose.

      Am i missing something?
      • Jul 3 2013: Not so poetically put,my one dollar buys me a renewable food source which can be donated to local food banks to feed the hungry.If i were to look at it in a capitalist sense,i could sell some of my apples and my answer would be that one dollar buys me more dollars.
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          Jul 3 2013: Well said Clyde!!!!
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          Jul 3 2013: I had that figured, just wanted you to make it clearer.

          And as Mary said it,well put.
        • Jul 8 2013: You see, buying a seed for plants is a lot more expensive than you think. You have to pay for the water to water said plants. Also, if you live in a city where there is not access to fertile ground (like a fair amount of people in poverty these days), the pots, top soil, etc. to grow tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, peas, or eggplants would be more than a euro. Produce bearing plants require full sun. The plants would have to be outside and most poor people do not have enough balcony space to grow enough to produce a significant amount of their food. It is true that once the pots are purchased, one can reuse them year after year. The potting soil would have to be purchased year after year. This is an investment that pays off in a while.

          The idea of planting an apple tree is an interesting idea. It certainly sounds ideal. One plant and then it produces a lot of fruit each year for decades. But have you ever grown apple trees or any fruit bearing trees? Not only do you have to pay for the land that they grow on, you have to keep them free of disease, which occasionally will involve spraying them (with organic or non organic stuff).

          In addition to that, you have to protect the fruit from animals. For cherry trees you have to make sure the birds do not get them. In the country where poor people would be able to afford the land to grow a fruit tree, you have to build 8 foot fences to prevent the deer from eating the pears or apples like my grandfather has to. You also have to prune the trees to enable the fruit to grow to a decent size.

          It is very hard for family grown food, or family farms to produce vegetables that are cheaper than ones produced on giant farms. That is why locally grown food is more expensive that food bought at a non-locally sourced grocery store. The reason for this is the same reason that Walmart is cheaper than a mom and pop store.

          In the country, when you already have the land, it is economically worth it.
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      Jul 3 2013: Actually you want to buy a knife, find an apple tree with good tasting apples and use it to get cuttings.

      starting from seeds will likely only give you bad tasting apples.
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        Jul 4 2013: That is very interesting.
        And, it would depend where you lived.

        Here, you can do this with mangoes, avocados, and other tropical foods.

        Apples? Not so much.

        Now Don, is this rule true for all types of apples?
        And why?

        And where would you cut? At what time of year would you cut?
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          Jul 6 2013: I don’t recall the details, but according to a documentary I seen on Jonny Appleseed the seeds normally revert and become wild apple trees, something to do with their genetic memory overriding the tree that created them trades. FYI: Jonny Appleseed used cuttings and had lot of nurseries, and did spread seed randomly.
          There lots of Youtube videos on “how to do tree cuttings” I would think they would vary depending on tree type.
      • Jul 4 2013: With fruit trees in particular, most commercially propagated fruit trees are grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks that are also disease and cold tolerant.Seedling offspring of these nursery-grown trees will not have the advantages of that dwarf rootstock,although they may produce good fruit.
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          Jul 5 2013: Thanks so much Clyde for this tidbit of information.
      • Jul 6 2013: You're welcome Mary.Don has a valid point,my way would take longer and the seeds would randomly grow a number of different types of apples with a large percentage of not so delectable ones,however,they would all be edible.
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    Jul 7 2013: If you haven't read the story of One Red Paper Clip, you might enjoy that story in the context of this conversation:
    • Jul 7 2013: Holy Cow ! That is quite a story/experiment. Thank you for posting it.
  • Jul 6 2013: Interesting conversation indeed. This simple question relates, in a meaningful way, to a bigger issue of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of nations. A similar concept propounded by the Economist is the 'Big Mac Index', which compares the currencies of nations by finding price of a big Mac in those nations. As it turns out, the currencies of many nations are undervalued; the most prominent among them is Yuan, the Chinese currency. So, for example if a Mac costs $4.37 in US and $2.57 in China at market exchange rate, Yuan is undervalued by 41% (source: The Economist).
    Here in India, US$1 can make a lot of difference to you. Planning commission of India has estimated that if a person living in cities earns ₹ 32 a day, (less than a dollar), he is not considered poor and hence is not eligible beneficiary of government programs targeting to eliminate poverty.
  • Jul 7 2013: The whole topic of conversation is healthy food! I think it was obvious you were implying hot dogs and canned ravioli belonged in that category and in that case I think it seems you are a little misguided on this whole subject.

    On a per calorie basis it is pretty much impossible that you can eat cheaper and healthier than fast food. You can get a full day's worth of 2000 calories at McDonalds for about 12 bucks. I challenge you to fill those same 2000 calories up with truly healthy food for anywhere near that price.
  • Jul 7 2013: the beginning of a dream becoming reality.
  • Jul 7 2013: Donate it! :)
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    Jul 6 2013: 1 dollar buys whatever someone is willing to sell you for a dollar. This could be pretty much anything, depending on the context. A dollar is a unit of economic exchange.

    Sell umbrellas in the rain. Sell ice cream in the heat. Buy low, sell high. Try to get as much as you can for your dollar. Micro, macro economics.
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    Jul 6 2013: Thank you for a wonderful question! I would tell you the best thing you can buy with one Dollar, but I have never heard anyone give the answer to this question better than our dear friend Ron;
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      Jul 7 2013: A wonderful person and a wonderful idea! I watched Ron's eyes. Those are dreamy and full of love.
      You are welcome friend. :)
    • Jul 7 2013: Juliette, yes, this was a wonderful video. Thank you so much for posting it. It really underscores a very important point : getting good, healthy food is somehow more expensive and inaccessible than fast, unhealthy food.
  • Jul 3 2013: It's unfortunate everyone thinks you can really buy things for $1 in those Family Dollar stores or Dollarama's or Dollar Trees or what have you. You might pay $1 at the till, but the external cost to the taxpayer and society at large is much more.
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      Jul 6 2013: Explain yourself because that doesn't make any sense.
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    Jul 3 2013: It is the person spending the dollar that truly affects its value.

    If a person can buy enough food or supplies to work and earn more money, they are on your path to self-reliance.
    But on the other side a dollar spent on candy or soda, and it a path to obesity.
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    Jul 2 2013: Should folks be told that one rupee is equivalent to 2-cents in the USA? Are you interested in what 2-cents will buy in America, or what $1 will buy in America, or what 50 rupees (=$1) will buy in India?
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      Jul 2 2013: It doesn't matter. I am just interested in the buying power of the lowest denomination. Not PPP.
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    Jul 8 2013: one dollar and seventeen cents of debt.
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    Jul 7 2013: Many things on chinese internet shops costs 1 dollar includes shipping. Just try it.
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    Jul 7 2013: Drinks from a soda machine cost one dollar.
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    Jul 7 2013: As you didn't ask if its worth it: 0,7794 Euro as this is written ...
  • Jul 5 2013: It changes here in Massachusetts. One thing is consistent, it buys nothing healthy. Nothing. A bottle of water is all over $1. Maybe an apple, but not a good, fresh one. Right now, I could get a medium size order french fries, but not a medium raw potato.
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      Jul 6 2013: You say it buys nothing healthy... then you mention a bottle of water, that's healthy. And as for potatoes, I just checked the grocery store: Red potatoes: $0.48 each, White Potatoes $0.56 each, Large Russet baking potatoes $0.78, Yams $0.87. And if you wan't a whole bunch it's $3.99 for 5 pounds.

      It's much cheaper to make your own fries. If you buy a 10 pound bag of potato's you'll end up paying about $0.20cents per serving of fries.

      Fast food is not really that great of a deal, it's just convenient.

      Edit: more examples:
      corn on the cob: $0.60
      beef ravioli can: $0.87
      cheapest hotdog pack: $0.99
      • Jul 6 2013: He said a bottle of water costs *over* a dollar. Plus he is talking about Massachusetts and you didn't mention anything about the grocery store you checked being in that state. It's also possible he is referring to organic produce which if that's the case, I don't blame him for. The crap that gets sprayed on to ordinary produce you get in your grocery store is revolting to think about.

        Also, I wouldn't insert items such as canned ravioli and hot dogs into a list that is only supposed to contain healthy items. Just read the ingredients on them and you'll see what I mean.
        • Jul 7 2013: Thank you Jan, your reply is exactly correct. And as I mentioned, a good, fresh medium sized potato where I live will cost over a dollar.
      • Jul 7 2013: Peter, I appreciate your reply. Jan responded well. I will too, however. I cannot get a bottle of water where I live for less than $1.25. I mentioned the cost of a medium potato in my reply to Jan.

        Deep fried potatoes made outside of the home are incredibly unhealthy. Deep frying even inside the home, is not healthy. I am sure that I could buy on Kentucky Fried Chicken leg or breast, but that is not "healthy" as I view it. Just like hot dogs, canned ravoli. They are loaded with chemicals, as Jan pointed out. That is why they have such long expiration date. Fresh, healthy food doesn't last months, much less years. That is not healthy eating, IMO. Your view of healthy food is different, it seems.
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          Jul 7 2013: First off, I did not say the food I mentioned was healthy(although potatoes can be part of a healthy diet) I just said the bottled water was healthy.

          True about the hotdogs and whatnot, but, in most circumstances, people buy larger portions of food for more than $1 and it comes out to be less per portion.

          For example, it's only about $4 for a 24 pack of bottled water, that's about $0.17 each. A 6 pound bag of stir-fry vegetables is about $8, about $0.67 for for a good size serving.

          It is possible to spend less $ than at fast food and eat healthy is my point.
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    Jul 3 2013: One rupee, when given, gives happiness.

    The most common use of one rupee in India.

    When ever we give some body gift of money it has to be Rs 11,Rs 21,Rs 51,Rs 101. It is considered auspicious. We have to add one Rupee to make above amounts.
    In a long long time i have not used one rupee except to give give as tip or gift.
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      Jul 3 2013: Tip:
      Add "Rs." or the respective currency before every amount of money.
      What you typed reads to me as Rupees 11 Crores....

      Maybe you are trying to imply that 1 is added in every unit of number as you have shown but if not so, then your point is not moving forward.
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    Jul 3 2013: As Edward Long explains I do not know of anything 2 cents can buy. As far as the US dollar I could buy 2 bags of Lance sunflower seeds for $1 or 59 cents each.
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    Jul 2 2013: Hi Pabitra!
    1 dollar can buy lots of things if you know about the Family Dollar stores, which I think is a national chain:>)
    They have clothing, cosmetics, food, paper products, cleaning products, etc. etc. etc.
    We can buy lots of items at much lower prices.....often....$1.00
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      Jul 2 2013: Your and Mary's website made my head spin!! I am terrible at shopping. But thanks anyway, good information. Plus when I visit you it will not be a costly affair for you to host. :D
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        Jul 2 2013: When people come to the states, their eyes pop out of their head at the sheer number of items they can purchase for $1.

        We have hotels near a mall around here, and every morning unsuspecting foreigners wonder into the can see them waddling back to their hotel with loads of bags....and usually an additional suitcase to take back home.

        It's hard to resist. :D
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        Jul 2 2013: I'm not a shopper either Pabitra, and prefer to reuse, recycle, renovate, restore, make and grow my own "stuff"! I grow insect repellent.....Tansy... a natural herb which insects don't like. Make bath and shower scrubs out of natural herbs grown in the garden... make cleaning agents with lemon juice, vinegar and salt. I re-make clothes that I've had for 100 years, grow lots of my own food.....not much need to shop for anything, and I LOVE IT! You're you and Sumana will not be a costly affair:>)
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          Jul 2 2013: You were born too early or I was born too late ::))
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      Jul 2 2013: Colleen, as I travelled all over my state last year, Family Dollar stores were the only stores in all the small towns we travelled through. I had no idea they were such a large chain until we did a long road trip.

      I imagine that many families living in isolated communities are very thankful for these chains.

      Even here, in my big city, there are many family dollar stores. They are always filled with customers.
      Oftentimes there is a Family Dollar store, and a 99 cent store side by side.....lots of competition for your $1.
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        Jul 2 2013: I thought it was a big chain Mary, but wasn't really sure until I just googled it! I think there may be several chains with the same $1.00 theme.
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        Jul 3 2013: Family dollar and dollar stores are hurting Wal-mart.
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      Jul 7 2013: Not completely true because they add taxes to these purchases which ends up being 1.06 where I live lol. And some stores like Family Dollar have items that cost more than the price you'd find at Walmart. All I know is, I miss the penny candy days :( lol
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    Jul 2 2013: Pretty much any item in a 99 cent store.....from hair accessories........ to placemats for your table.

    Look at all the items a buck buys you in America:
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    Jul 1 2013: A fun fact is that there was NO inflation in the U.S. from 1776 until 1913, that is right you could bury a dollar in 1776 and dig it up in 1913 and it would still buy the same stuff.

    As production get cheaper there is a natural deflation. Aluminum for instance was $1500.00 a pound in 1880, they discover how to make it cheaper and the price went to a cents per pound in the early 1900s.

    Hmm why has there been inflation since 1913?
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      Jul 2 2013: Huh......why?
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        Jul 2 2013: A natural consequence of increasing production capability is more stuff for the same money. E.G. my first computer circa 1982 was $4000.00 and had less power than your phone, today...

        1913 is when the Federal Reserve Bank was created by the same individuals who brought you income tax. 15 years later they brought you the Great Depression, and the current "Great Recession" and many other less notable prolonged bubbles.

        Along with incessant inflation which enriches the cronys and costs everyone else. Which has generally lowered the purchasing power of the consumer.
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          Jul 2 2013: Well, that makes sense.

          The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.....just lovely.

          One of the benefits of living for a while, is that you realize that the price they are asking for items are not always in harmony with the value of the item.

          Price does not equal value.

          Lots and lots of things are over priced.

          You can even be jilted at the 99 cent store if you don't know any better.

          Thanks for the explanation Pat.

          How do you deal with inflation?
          How do you extend the $1?
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        Jul 2 2013: Just what you said, look for value.
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      Jul 2 2013: Here in India the marketing strategy is just the reverse. Sensing that a 1 litre Head & Shoulder shampoo will not sell in the price sensitive market, 5 ml sachets sell the same brand almost 1.5 times the price.
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        Jul 2 2013: I remember when I lived in a caribbean island, that the neighborhood housewives would walk to the corner "colmado" (little shop usually run from a room in a house)....with a spoon in their hand, and for 1 peso, they would buy a spoonful of tomato paste.

        Also for 1 peso, they would get, about 1/4 of salt, or oil, or butter, and even a pound of rice.

        That was 18 years ago.

        Now these same items are much more expensive.

        Alot of it had to do with a lack of money, people did not have a steady income to be able to shop for the week, so they shopped daily.

        So, in India, what is the reason people do not buy the liter of shampoo?
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          Jul 2 2013: 'So, in India, what is the reason people do not buy the liter of shampoo?'
          Shortage of cash for many. Strangely for some who can afford, they don't buy a litre bottle for reasons like, 'so much shampoo, it will go stale!' or 'mommy, let's use this for a week and then try Garnier?'
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          Jul 2 2013: Good and bad news! Congratulations for a new start. You will be missed here. Keep in touch if possible.
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      Jul 2 2013: Well, LaMar, the pleasure has been all mine.

      I have learned quite a bit from reading your contributions.
      I wish you the very best in your new endeavors.....come back and see us sometime.

      Here is one last musical link.......Good-bye Friend!!

      Enjoy!! Be Well,
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    Jul 1 2013: What costs $1? In my freezer I have a 20 oz. package of ground turkey that is labeled 99 cents.

    Earlier today I was in a major drugstore and saw near the counter that liters of carbonated cola of a major brand were 99 cents.

    A couple of first class stamps (like for posting letters) is just short of one dollar.

    There is a newspaper sold on street corners by homeless vendors that is $1.

    There are no services one could buy (like getting a button sewn on) for anything close to $1. I needed to get the battery replaced in my watch yesterday. That took maybe one minute and cost $10, including the battery.

    I don't know whether it is true worldwide that prices of common items vary widely from one week to the next. One week ago I bought peaches for $1 per pound, but yesterday they were between $2 and $3 per pound.
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      Jul 2 2013: 20 oz equals 567 grams. 99 cents equal 46 INR. I think you are having protein cheap in the US. In India, turkey is rare in markets. On a comparative scale 567 raw chicken (dressed) will cost around 102 INR which is say roughly 2 USD.
      There is simply no question of any food item under 1 INR in India.
      What is the iconic 1 dollar item in the US that you think the society will lose in near future?
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        Jul 2 2013: Actually protein is not cheap. Normal for poultry would be closer to $2/pound or maybe a little more and beef more like $3 or $4. Fish is quite a bit more.

        Prices are so variable here, with most people, I think, keeping an eye open for the times things are cheapest. An ordinary, mass produced greeting card from a card shop might be $1. A couple of donuts might be. A 5" by 8" composition book with 100 lined pages perhaps.

        As Lamar wrote elsewhere in the conversation, things are packaged in multiples much more than in units costing $1 or less.