The surprise in the Economic Survey 2019-20: revealed a new method of measuring household income. The “Thali Economics” or the “Thalinomics”, is a measure on how much a meal cost in India. For both vegetarian and Non-vegetarian data from twenty-five States & Union Territories was modeled and taking into account the price of cereals, vegetables, and pulses & cost of vegetables.
The survey reveals that the prices of vegetarian ‘Thali’ came down since 2015 -16 but the prices increased from mid of 2019-20. From 2006-07 to 2019-20 the affordability of ‘Vegetarian Thali’ improved by 29 percent while for ‘Non-vegetarian Thali’ improved by 18 percent.
The survey, noted that normally a ‘Vegetarian Thali’ comprises a serving of cereals, ‘sabzi and dal’ and the ‘Non-vegetarian Thali’ comprises of cereals, sabzi and a non-vegetarian component. As per NIN – Cereals, has to be 300 gms, vegetables, 150 gms and pulses 60 and non-veg 60 gms.
In all the four regions – north, south, east and west – it was found that the absolute prices of a vegetarian ‘Thali’ have decreased significantly since 2015-16 though the price has increased in 2019.” As a result, the survey reported, “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.”
This new term ‘THALINOMICS’ is not just food, but the Quality of Life for the individual also matters and it is captured by the changes in the consumer price index. For this reason we can see why, between 2016 and 2019, food prices declined and therefore food was more affordable by the average person. Since mid-2019, food prices have been rising and therefore food is suddenly less affordable especially by the poor.
There’s no harm in introducing clever terms, but the real thing that matters is what is the purchasing power of the average person and whether that is rising or not.