March 20, 2023

Win some, lose most

Article By

Sujit Chandra Kumar

Fortune usually favours the brave but lottery luck has a way of finding the auto driver or head load worker, at least in Kerala. Before, we zero in on some poetic justice type otherworldly logic behind most winners coming from the working classes, let us also understand that it is these people who buy most of the tickets in the first place. The well-heeled seem firm in their belief that money usually comes after you put in some solid effort and lady luck rarely breaks into a smile on her own.

It is probably the one kind of entrepreneurship that is thriving, nay exploding in the state. If you are a late morning walker, for instance, you can’t reach your destination without knocking down one or two lottery ticket sellers. These walking salesmen have a habit of accosting you and extending the hand of luck in a way that it is difficult to shake off.

Corona means that you try to maintain social distance from all others at all times but even as you slide towards one side of the road, the salesman not only slants his direction of movement towards you but also extends his lottery hand by a foot the moment we coincide. They even spot us from a distance and cross the road, making it impossible to miss them. Some just park themselves at junctions where it is already difficult to have a smooth passage and then virtually create a fortune trap. Some fit a loudspeaker onto their two wheelers and create a racket to attract attention…’Tomorrow is the day’, they scream. Yes, one does realise that the poor souls are simply trying to make an honourable living but they can be pesky all the same. Some are persistent, others plead and a few even beg for mercy. To think that they are trying hard to make one a millionaire!

These salesmen know their hot spots. You find them the most in front of temples, restaurants and yes, beverage outlets. It is simply a mere coincidence that these two industries — liquor and lottery – are monopolies of the state government. Tipplers who have just managed to collect their quota and feeling light-hearted are probably in the best mood to part with that fifty or hundred rupees to try their luck. It is another matter that many among us who give in to temptation may not even bother to remember the result date and check if the numbers are in our favour. Those who win small amounts have this habit of spending the winnings on more tickets, thus ensuring that it remains a lose-lose situation. My own mom who is getting on in years once wanted me to buy a ticket on her behalf, with my money of course, and was vague about how to divide the bounty, in case ‘her ticket’ were to prove lucky!

The newspaper feature about the lucky guy who won the five crores – minus of course the steep cut by the tax department – and how he either accidentally bought the ticket or how he has been a habitual buyer helps keeps up the collective hope. But often, newspapers also do that story about most lottery winners blowing up all their prize money, on, among other things, what they sell at the beverage outlets.

The irony is stark that most of those who are trying to sell the dream of fortune are themselves from very unfortunate circumstances. They suffer the heat and dust and the irritated looks of strangers just to make a few bucks. But do they all need to sell the same product? Can’t some of them turn to other more user-friendly stuff or at least sell those along with the tickets? Kudumbashree products or the ones manufactured by the state corporations? Can they be simultaneously agents of services provided by the state-owned banks or lending institutions? Will they ever have a future that is not just on ‘paper’?

Pic Courtesy: google/ images are subject to copyright




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