Economic Survey 2020 Brings Out ‘Thalinomics’ To Quantify What A Common Man Pays For Thali Across India
Economic Survey 2020 Brings Out ‘Thalinomics’ To Quantify What A Common Man Pays For Thali Across IndiaA Maharashtrian vegetarian meal with a variety of items. (Fatfoodie/Wikipedia)

The Economic Survey 2019-20 was tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament today (31 January). The survey projects the Indian economy to grow at a rate of 6 per cent to 6.5 per cent in the upcoming financial year 2020-21.

Continuing the attempt to relate economics to the common person’s everyday life, this year’s economic survey brings out “Thalinomics: The economics of a plate of food in India”.

Notably, last year’s survey included a chapter on “Behavioural Economics”, and made a humble attempt to understand humans as humans, not self-interested automatons.

Thalinomics is an attempt to quantify what a common person pays for a thali across India. It attempts to answer whether a thali has become more or less affordable.

As per the survey, prices data from the consumer price index for industrial workers for around 80 centres in 25 states/UTs from April 2006 to October 2019 have been used for the analysis.

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.

Both across India and the four regions – north, south, east and west – we find that the absolute prices of a vegetarian thali have decreased significantly since 2015-16, though the price has increased during 2019-20.

After 2015-16, the average household probably saved Rs 10,887 on average per year from the moderation in prices in the case of vegetarian thali. Similarly, an average household that consumes two non-vegetarian thalis saved around Rs 11,787 on average per year during the same period.

Using the annual earnings of an average industrial worker, we find that affordability of vegetarian thalis improved 29 per cent from 2006-07 to 2019-20, while that for non-vegetarian thalis improved by 18 per cent.

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