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Thalinomics spin on prices

Thalinomics spin on prices

The finance ministry’s chief economic adviser has come out with a novel thali concept to calculate the affordability of a plate of meal at a time spiralling prices of onion and other vegetables are burning holes in the pockets of the common man.

The concept is seen as a defence of the Modi government’s inflation management policies at a time retail inflation has touched about a five-and-half year high of 7.35 per cent in December 2019, surpassing the RBI’s comfort level.

Chief economic adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian perhaps seems to have taken a cue from his teacher and former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, who had coined “dosanomics” to explain the relationship between inflation and interest rates.

Calling it Thalinomics, the CEA compared the price of standard veg and non-veg meal plates across the country to prove that affordability as a factor of daily wage has improved overtime, indicating improved welfare of the common person.

The affordability of vegetarian thalis has improved 29 per cent, while that for non-vegetarian thalis by 18 per cent from 2006-07 to 2019-20, the Economic Survey said.

“Across India, we find 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 compared with the previous trend of increasing prices,” the survey said.

Taking a swipe at Thalinomics, Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said, “Thali will soon be khali (empty)…Thalinomics is another obfuscation. The claims of affordable thalis are misleading after the NSS consumption survey pointed out how food consumption has reduced. What we have are shrinking thalis…the Thalinomics set the stage for an attack on the poor of India.”

Thalinomics is well placed to catch the fancy of commentators and could become the country’s own Big Mac index, an informal measure of the purchasing power parity of different countries through a price comparison of McDonald’s hamburger in stated geographies. However, it could come under attack from political parties for the government’s insensitivity amid such high inflation.

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