Economic Survey says 'thalis’ more affordable now despite rising inflation

This is despite the fact that inflation, led by food prices, has constantly been high in the last year.
Economic Survey says 'thalis’ more affordable now despite rising inflation
Economic Survey says 'thalis’ more affordable now despite rising inflation
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In India, affordability of vegetarian 'thalis' improved more compared to non-vegetarian 'thalis' in last 13 years, stated the Economic Survey 2019-20, which was presented in Parliament on Friday.

Affordability of vegetarian 'thalis' improved by 29% while that for non-vegetarian 'thalis' by 18% from 2006-07 to 2019-20, said the survey.

Affordability of 'thalis' is calculated with regard to a day's pay of a worker. Affordability of 'thalis' vis-A-vis a day's pay of a worker has improved over time, indicating improved welfare of the common person, said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The analysis 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 centres in 25 states and Union Territories from April 2006 to October 2019 has been used for the study.

The survey states that across India and also the four 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, the Survey claims, 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 five individuals that eats two vegetarian 'thalis' a day, gained around Rs 10,887, on average per year, while a non-vegetarian household gained Rs 11,787, on average per year, the Survey says.

The Survey also 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.

However, India’s inflation has been on an upward ride in the last 10-12 months. Over the last year, the prices of vegetables and pulses have been on an upward graph, pushing up the rate of inflation. 

In fact November 2019 recorded one of the highest prices in the market for vegetables and pulses. The prices of vegetables increased by a whopping 35.99% in November 2019 while the inflation for pulses and products was at 13.94% and 3.46% for milk and products. The overall inflation on food and beverages increased to 8.66% in November 2019 when compared with 6.93% in October 2019. Inflation in meat and fish was at 9.38%.

It is also undeniable that the prices of onions shot up by over 400% in the market in December with India resorting to import onions from Egypt to tackle the demand-supply crisis, which was reportedly pushing up the prices. 

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