New Delhi: The last chapter of Volume I of the Economic survey 2020 has some delicious surprise. It has endeavoured whether the price of thali has gone up or down.

“Has a Thali become more or less affordable? Has inflation in the price of a Thali increased or decreased? Is the inflation the same for a vegetarian Thali as for a nonvegetarian one? Is the inflation in the price of a Thali different across different states and regions in India? Which components account for the changes in the price of a Thali – the cereals, vegetables, pulses or the cost of fuel required for its preparation? Questions that can engage a dinner-table conversation in Lutyens Delhi or in a road-side Dhaba in the hinterland can now be answered and positions taken on either side of a “healthy” debate,” the document says.

Both across India and the four regions – North, South, East and West – it has been found that the absolute prices of a vegetarian Thali have decreased since 2015-16, though it increased during 2019. This is owing to significant moderation in the prices of vegetables and dal from 2015-16 when compared to the previous trend of increasing prices. In fact, the increase in prices of both components has contributed to the increase in the Thali price during 2019-20 (April – October) as well. If the prices of a vegetarian Thali had followed the trend obtained till 2015-16, an average household comprising of five individuals would have had to spend Rs 10887 more on average per year for eating minimum two healthy Thalis a day.

“In other words, after 2015-16, the average household gained Rs 10887 per year on average from the moderation in Thali prices. Similarly, an average household that eats minimum two healthy non-vegetarian Thalis per day gained around Rs 11787 on average during the same period. As another benchmark, we examine an industrial worker’s ability to pay for two Thalis a day for his/her household of five individuals,”