Thalinomics: Meals more affordable for common man

Economic Survey's Thalinomics suggests meal more affordable for common man

Representative image. (DH File Photo)

Affordability of thalis (one plate meal) vis-à-vis a day’s pay of a worker has improved over time, indicating improved welfare of the common person. 

According to the Economic Survey 2019-20 presented in Parliament on Friday by the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman states that affordability of vegetarian thalis improved 29 per cent from 2006-07 to 2019-20 while that for non-vegetarian thalis by 18 per cent.

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The conclusion has been drawn on the basis of "Thalinomics: the Economics of a plate of food in India" – an attempt to quantify what a common person pays for a thali across India. Using the dietary guidelines for Indians, the price of thalis are constructed. Price data from the Consumer Price Index for industrial workers for around 80 centres in 25 states and UTs from April 2006 to October 2019 has been used for the study.

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The survey states that across India and also the four regions -- North, South, East and West -- it is found that the absolute prices of a vegetarian thali have decreased significantly since 2015-16 though the price has increased in 2019.  This is owing to the sharp downward trend in the prices of vegetables and dal in contrast to the previous trend of increasing prices. As a result, an average household of five individuals that eat two vegetarian thalis a day, gained around Rs 10,887 on an average per year, while a non-vegetarian household gained Rs 11,787, on an average per year.

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The survey states that 2015-16 can be considered as a year when there was a shift in the dynamics of thali prices. Many reform measures were introduced since 2014-15 to enhance the productivity of the agriculture sector as well as efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural markets for better and more transparent price discovery.

The Economic Survey said that food is not just an end in itself but also an essential ingredient in the growth of human capital and therefore important for national wealth creation. "Zero hunger" has been agreed upon by nations of the world as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).