This chapter in the final part of the Economic Survey for 2019-20, reveals a new way of measuring household income.
- It takes into account that as food is a necessity, a rapid rise in the price of a Thali has the most direct and conspicuous effect on the common man.
- It is the way to relate economics to the common person’s life every day. It is an attempt to quantify what a common person pays for a Thali across India.
Construction of the thali prices
- Using the dietary guidelines for Indians, the price of Thalis is constructed across all India and 4 regional levels (Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western states).
- Households are defined as comprising five individuals and each consuming two vegetarian Thalis.
- It assumes that at least two full meals would be consumed in a day such that the daily dietary requirements for these elements would be met.
Thali prices in India (2006-07 to 2019-20)
- Impact of reforms in improving the productivity of the agriculture sector (PM-AASHA, PMFBY, Soil Health Card, e-NAM, NFSM, and NFSA) on thali prices
- These reforms have contributed to the All-India level average gain of around 3 per thali for the vegetarian Thali, post-2015-16.
- Affordability of vegetarian Thalis improved 29 percent from 2006-07 to 2019-20 while that for non-vegetarian Thalis by 18 percent.
- Thali prices for industrial workers
- Affordability of ‘thali’ in relation to a worker's daily pay has improved over time, indicating improved welfare of the common person.
- It is found that an individual who would have spent around 70 percent of his/her daily wage on two Thalis for a household of five in 2006- 07 is able to afford the same number of Thalis from around 50 percent of his daily wage in 2019-20.
- Regional Variations in Thali prices
- Comparing between 2006-07 and 2019-20 (April-October), vegetarian Thali has become more affordable in all states under consideration.
- In the case of non-vegetarian Thali, affordability has increased during this period in all states except Bihar and Maharashtra, where it has shown a marginal decline.
- The highest gain in any year was in the Southern region for a vegetarian Thali. Most affordable Thali was in Jharkhand.
- Impact of inflation on Thali prices
- It is observed that inflation has been declining over time in all components. While inflation in cereals have been declining at a steady rate throughout the period, the fall in inflation has accelerated in all other components except Sabzi.
- But on the other hand over the last year, the rate of inflation for Dal, Sabzi and nonvegetarian components has increased.
- It is found that at the all-India level as well as regional levels, moderation in prices of vegetarian Thali has been witnessed since 2015-16 though Thali prices have increased this year.
- This is owing to the sharp downward turn in the prices of vegetables and dal in contrast to the previous trend of increasing price.
The Economic Survey says 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 the nations of the world as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
Also read: Summary Of Economic Survey 2019-20 Volume 1