Economic Survey 2019-20: 'Thalinomics in a hungry India'

It is an attempt to quantify what a common person pays for a Thali in India, according to the Economic Survey 2019-20

Last Updated: Friday 31 January 2020

Despite reports of hunger persisting in India, the last chapter of Economic Survey 2019-20, titled Thalinomics, tried to quantify what a common person pays for a thali across India.

It is based on the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers for April 2006-October 2019, according to the survey. To calculate the price per plate (thali), price data from the report collected from north, south, east and west India has been used. A comparison has then been made between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian thali between 2006-07 and 2019-20.

A vegetarian thali comprises of a serving of cereals, vegetables and dal, while the non-vegetarian thali comprises of cereals, vegetables and a non-vegetarian component.

It was found that prices of a vegetarian thali had decreased significantly since 2015-16 though the price has increased in 2019. The increase was due to the price rise in case of dal and vegetables. As a result, an average household of five individuals that eats two vegetarian thalis a day, gained around Rs 10,887 per year and a non-vegetarian household gained Rs 11,787 per year.

The thalinomics chapter claims 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. “But people India still die from hunger,” it says.

India ranked 102 out of 117 countries on the hunger index in 2019, while it was at 95th position in 2018.

“According to the Household Consumer Expenditure in India survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO), rural India's monthly spending on food in 2017-18 was Rs 580, which increased by Rs 19 per day,” Devinder Sharma, writer and researcher on agriculture and food, told Down To Earth.

Even though thali prices have reduced from what they were in 2006, people still do not have access to food, he added.  

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