Ranchi, June 13: It has been seven years since Sushanti Purty, a 60-year-old roadside food stall owner in the tiny village of Ulihatu in Jharkhand, has been selling idlis, the famous south Indian delicacy, for Rs 1 per piece.
Surprised? You should be judging by the spiralling price hike of very essential items. But Purty's main motive is to feed healthy and wholesome homemade food to the locals with minimum profit.
The idea of one-rupee idli is not new to India, after late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa decided to sell idlis at the cheapest possible price in Amma canteens (named after the deceased leader)--the state-run food joints to cater to the needs of the disadvantaged section of society.
While Amma canteens are a massive hit in Tamil Nadu, critics did not stop from calling selling of food items at an affordable price by government agencies as an attempt to "woo poor voters". Taking a leaf out of Amma canteens, Karnataka too got Indira canteens--where various local dishes are sold at a subsidised rate--last year before the Assembly elections in the state were held in May this year.
However, Purty is not one to nurture any political ambition. It is a job she has been doing for years to earn her livelihood and satiate the hunger of locals who can't afford to have costly meals in air-conditioned hotels.
Along with idlis, Purthy also sells local delicacies like malpua (Rs 5 per piece), gulgula (Rs 1 per piece), shakarpala (Rs 1 per piece) and fryums (Rs 5 per packet) to her patrons in her open-air stall where food items are displayed on a charpai (folding bed).
Talking to The Better India, Purty said, "The food selling business contributes to the family income, along with the constant support of my husband, children and grandchildren."
She added, "I make around Rs 50 every day, mostly by selling idlis. On Mondays and Saturdays, during the weekly bazaars, my payment exceeds rises to Rs 60 per day. In my old age, I find this job a perfect one to meet our basic needs. "
Locals, especially her regular customers that include school-going children, daily wage earners and homemakers, love her food. However, it is the idlis that they savour the most as they get to bite into the delicate fluffy patties by spending bare minimum.