Onion crisis will be the death of UPA Sometimes, it seems that India is a country in perpetual turmoil â€” a seething, bubbling pot, ready to boil over into protest, conflict and violence at a momentâ€™s notice. Scandals rise like ingredients from its depths, borne on currents of political greed and corruption, to taunt and exploit the general population, only to sink from view as another crisis breaks the surface. Onions are a case in point. Not metaphorical onions, such as might co-exist with the carrots of corruption and the potatoes of political double-dealing within Indian public life, but actual, genuine, eye-watering vegetables. For India, not for the first time, is in the midst of an Onion Crisis. The humble onion is, of course, central to Indian cuisine, turning up in one form or another in the vast majority of dishes. And, right now, it is in very short supply. Truckload of onions robbed by highway robbers ndia usually produces about 17 million tonnes of onions each year, with about 80 per cent of them coming from States like Maharashtra and Karnataka. Unfortunately, the harvest in those regions has been very poor this year, making onions scarce. Poor infrastructure and insufficient transportation have exacerbated the shortage, with the Reserve Bank suggesting that up to 40 per cent of Indiaâ€™s fruits and vegetables go to waste before they are sold. As always happens when demand for a product is greater than the available supply, the price of onions has risen sharply in recent weeks, from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 60â€“80 per kg, and is quite likely to rise still further. Indeed, in July 2013, the Commerce Ministry sheepishly reported that the price of onions had increased by 114 per cent since June 2012. Traders, of course, have spotted the opportunity to make a handsome profit, and (it is claimed) are hoarding onions until they can get the best price for them. 7 reasons why Rupee is currently worldâ€™s fourth weakest currency There is little comfort to an involuntarily onion-bereft citizenry being forced to subsist on bland, onionless food. They want onions, and they want them now! Onion-free dishes throughout the land are causing discord within households and no doubt Jain cookery books will fly off the shelves soon enough. But for the Mughal invasion and its onion-with-everything legacy, this would never have happened, but, as things stand, the layers are peeling off Indian society like skins from an onion. At its heart, that society is driven by the need to find a partner, marry, procreate, raise a family and repeat the process until the country is either exhausted, overpopulated or both. The first stage of that process is, inevitably, a romantic date and an essential component of the date is food. Pani-puris, bhels, chaats and pav bhajis are all popular choices, and they all come with onions â€” for which the vendors are now charging extra! Donâ€™t they realise theyâ€™re jeopardising future generations of onion-eating Indians, as yet unborn, and unlikely to even be conceived if the date doesnâ€™t go well? Itâ€™s a national scandal! A crisis! The future is at stake! So what is the ever-alert Indian government doing to resolve the issue? Well, in a move that will surprise approximately nobody, they donâ€™t seem to be doing very much of any use whatsoever. The so-called â€˜Onion Crisisâ€™ talks have resulted in very little action â€” the Government decided to import onions from Pakistan and Iran, and to prevent exports by fixing the minimum export price. To date, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has no concrete answers as to when the price of onions will begin to fall. The irony is that this isnâ€™t a new situation. Parallels can be drawn to the infamous Onion Crisis of 2010, which featured, astonishingly, errant rainfall, hoarding, official incompetence and price-hiking by traders. Sounds familiar, doesnâ€™t it? 20,000 people wearing onion garlands took to the streets of New Delhi to demonstrate against the price rise and Government corruption, but, apparently, nobody noticed, or bothered to ask them where they got all those onions from. Had politicians paid attention to both points, India might not be in the pickle it is in today. If we travel further back in history, we see that onions are a common feature of election campaigns. In 1981, Congress romped to victory when the rising price of onions contributed to the fall of the Janata Government. Indira Gandhi labelled it the â€˜Onion Electionâ€™. Later that year, Parliament saw MPs wearing onion garlands while others sported a bit of onion waving in protest as the price continued to rise. Fast forward to 1998. History repeated itself when a shortage of onions caused a hike in the prices, and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party lost to Congress in New Delhi. Clearly, onion prices are closely linked to political upheavals and fluctuations in prices have the most significant impact upon those who can least afford excessive prices. Unfortunately for the politicians, poor people are both numerous and naturally belligerent and tend to express their displeasure in no uncertain terms at election time. Congress appears unable to keep the onion-munching masses happy as they sport their new Food Security Bill, which amounts to little more than pre-election flag waving. In the meantime, the Government guarantees onions for gold-embossed Congress banquets and glitzy Bollywood parties â€” the humble onion-eater in the street doesnâ€™t get a look in. It is almost beyond belief that the Government failed to prevent this situation from developing. After the 2010 Onion Crisis, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India [NAFED] approached most States with an offer to store onions for them â€” effectively offering to act as a reserve to prevent black marketing. There was no official encouragement to take up this offer â€” had there been, the current crisis could easily have been headed off before it began. Sadly, the Governmentâ€™s persistent vegetative state has not done it any favours. Putting onions on every table in India appears to an impossible task for the current comatose ruling party. Their ability to foresee these problems and take counter-measures appears to be beyond them. Election time is coming, and once again the humble onion is running rings around the schemes of politicians. Failure to take account of this unassuming vegetable has brought down Governments before, and unless Congress can pull their bhajis out of the fire in very short order, they may well find their ambitions for another term in office fried in place of the absent onions. No one should underestimate the power of the common onion on the Indian political express to election day. Onion crisis will be the death of UPA | Niti Central **************************************************** I wonder if this crisis will affect the UPA's prospects. The TV channels indicate that the people are really browned off, but they are still buying/ managing. There is no doubt that it is a man made crisis and by politicians who control the onion market, to allow them to make hay while the sun shines to stash up before the elections and to give the instruments to influence the votes. On one of the TV channels it was said by a participant on a Debate that some agency or the other had given a warning of the coming of the onion crisis. In Muscat, Indian onions sell at :inr: 57 per kilo as per the TV Debate.