Affordability of Thalis vis-à-vis a day’s pay of a worker has improved over time, indicating improved welfare of the common person. The Economic Survey 2019-20 presented in Parliament today by the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt 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.
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 centers in 25 States and UTs from April 2006 to October 2019 has been used for the study.
The Survey states that across India and also the 4 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 5 individuals that eats two vegetarian Thalis a day, gained around Rupees 10887, on average per year, while a non-vegetarian household gained Rupees 11787, on averageper year.
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 agricultural sector as well as efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural markets for better and more transparent price discovery.
The Economic Survey says that food is not just an end in itself but also an essential ingredient in the growth 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).