New Delhi: The Economic Survey 2019-20 touched upon a basic element of the common man's daily life in India – the thali. Through "thalinomics", which is an attempt to quantify what a common person pays for a thali across India, the survey took into account the annual earnings of an average industrial worker, which revealed that the "affordability of vegetarian thalis has improved by 29% from 2006-07 to 2019-20 while that for non-vegetarian thalis improved by 18%".
Price data from the Consumer Price Index for industrial workers for around 80 centres in 25 states and Union Territories from April 2006 to October 2019 has been used for the analysis. The fiscal year 2015-16 was considered as the 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 agricultural sector as well as efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural markets for better and more transparent price discovery," said the chapter in a glance.
The government claimed that, both across India and the four regions — north, south, east and west — the absolute prices of a vegetarian thali decreased significantly since 2015-16 although the price increased during 2019-20.
And after 2015-16, the average household gained Rs 10,887 on an average per year due to moderation in prices in the case of vegetarian thali. Similarly, an average household that consumes two non-vegetarian thalis gained around Rs 11,787 on an average per year in the same period.
In this chapter, the evolution of prices of food items have been looked at through the lens of thalis during the period from 2006-07 to 2019-20 (April-October 2019). It is found that at the all-India as well as regional levels, moderation in prices of vegetarian thali have been witnessed since 2015-16. Although thali prices have increased this year.
This moderation is due to the sharp downward turn in the prices of vegetables and dal in contrast to the previous trend of increasing prices.
In terms of the inflation in thali prices and all the components, we find a distinct declining trend during the period under review. "The affordability of thalis vis-à-vis a day's pay of a worker has improved over time indicating improved welfare of the common person," said the report.
The chapter has observed that 'Zero Hunger' has been agreed upon by nations of the world as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). This goal (SDG 2) is directly related to other SDGs such as goal 1 (no poverty), goal 4 (quality education), goal 5 (gender equality), goal 12 (responsible consumption and production), goal 13 (climate action), and goal 15 (life on land).