Economic Survey 2020: Thalinomics Analyses How Affordable Your Meal Is
This year’s Economic Survey unveiled Thalinomics—or a study of what a common person pays for a thali (food platter) across India—to suggest food became more affordable for an average Indian in the last five years.
The study, similar to the Big Mac index, tracked the cost and affordability of a meal since 2006-07 till October 2019, factoring in prices of ingredients and wages, according to the survey authored by Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian.
“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,” says the Economic Survey. “Indeed, food and beverages constitute around 45.9 percent in the Consumer Price Index Combined. The most effective way, therefore, to communicate the trends in prices to the common man is through the cost incurred in putting together one complete, homemade meal–the Indian Thali.”
The survey considered the cost of a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian thali per day for a household of five individuals.
The study found that absolute prices of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis fell since 2015-16. That’s because of a moderation in the prices of vegetables and dal in the last five years compared with a spike in the previous years, according to the survey. Prices, however, rose in April-October 2019 as the two ingredients again turned costlier.
Thalis were constructed using the average monthly price data used for preparation of Consumer Price Index-Industrial Workers from April 2006 to October 2019.
If the prices had continued to rise in line with the trend till 2015-16, the average household of five would have had to spend Rs 10,887 more every year on two vegetarian thalis; and an additional Rs 11,787 annually on two non-vegetarian ones, the survey found.
“Using this measure, we find that affordability of vegetarian thalis has improved over the time period from 2006-07 to 2019-20 by 29 percent and that for non-vegetarian thalis by 18 percent,” the Economic Survey said.
Subramanian attributed the improvement in thali affordability to the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and the National Food Security Mission.
Share Of Food In Wallet Still High
According to the Economic Survey, an average worker engaged in the organised manufacturing sector is estimated to have spent as much 70 percent of daily wage to buy two vegetarian thalis in 2006-07. This has fallen to around 50 percent in 2019. For the non-vegetarian thali, it has fallen from 93 percent of the daily wage in 2006-07 to 79 percent in 2019. Which means food still takes away a big share of the wallet of an average worker.
The calculations were based on the daily wage derived from Annual Survey of Industries data (available till 2017-18 and extrapolated till 2019-20 based on the trend).