The household bills in seven Indian States remained consistently higher every month in FY24. These States are Rajasthan, Haryana, Telangana, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Retail inflation in all these States remained higher than the national average every month from April 2023 to August 2023.
Retail inflation in August was 6.83 per cent in India. Among all States, it was the highest in Rajasthan — 8.6 per cent. Telangana and Haryana share the second position with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation of 8.27 per cent each. In July 2023, when the all-India CPI inflation was 7.44 per cent, it was 9.66 per cent in Rajasthan.
Vegetarian diet hurts
In the last few months, prices of tomatoes and then onions inflated the household bills in India. Unsurprisingly, in August too, vegetables drove the inflation. The CPI inflation of vegetables was 26.14 per cent in August. It remained quite high at 23.19 per cent for spices and 13.04 per cent for pulses. In July, tomatoes could have been the second-most expensive food item that an average Indian household paid for, according to a businessline analysis.
That could be the reason why a lot of States with higher inflation are the ones with a majority vegetarian population. Analysis of the National Family Health Survey 5 shows that Rajasthan has the highest proportion of vegetarians in the country. A whopping 68.7 per cent of the population of the State have never eaten fish, chicken or meat. In Haryana, that proportion is 67.9 per cent and in Uttar Pradesh, it is 40.2 per cent.
These States are quite rare in a country like India, where more than 75 per cent of the population are non-vegetarians. For instance, among the larger States more than 95 per cent of the population consume fish, meat or chicken in Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam.
Similarly, inflation remained lower in States that grow vegetables, particularly onions and tomatoes. The Ministry of Agriculture’s data shows that 48 per cent of India’s onions are grown in Maharashtra. In the State, inflation levels remained lower than the national average.
Data also shows that the per-capita income in three of these States with higher inflation is higher than the national average. These States are Telangana (₹3,08,732), Tamil Nadu (₹2,73,288) and Uttarakhand (₹2,33,565). A higher purchasing power could be the reason for higher inflation in these States.