Onion crisis will be the death of UPA

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Onion crisis will be the death of UPA

    Sometimes, it seems that India is a country in perpetual turmoil — a seething, bubbling pot, ready to boil over into protest, conflict and violence at a moment’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 India’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 60–80 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 world’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 — for which the vendors are now charging extra! Don’t they realise they’re jeopardising future generations of onion-eating Indians, as yet unborn, and unlikely to even be conceived if the date doesn’t go well?

    It’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 don’t seem to be doing very much of any use whatsoever.

    The so-called ‘Onion Crisis’ talks have resulted in very little action — 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 isn’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, doesn’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 ‘Onion Election’. 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 — the humble onion-eater in the street doesn’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 — effectively offering to act as a reserve to prevent black marketing. There was no official encouragement to take up this offer — had there been, the current crisis could easily have been headed off before it began.

    Sadly, the Government’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

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    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.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Output much higher, so why are onions on fire?

    It's virtually impossible to tell why onion prices have gone through the roof. In the past 10 years, between 2002-03 and 2012-13, onion production has jumped from about 42 lakh metric tons (LMT) to 163 LMT. That's an increase of nearly 300%. In the same period, India's population has grown by about 1.7% each year. So, unless the whole country has suddenly become onion junkies, where is all this onion going?

    It's not that there's been a sudden slump in onion production. This year (2013-14) the production is expected to be 10-15% higher than last year, based on kharif crop estimates, says H R Sharma, deputy director at the Nasik based National Horticultural Research & Development Foundation, which is under the Union agriculture ministry.

    Exports or use by the processing industry are also not the reasons behind shortfall in supply, says Jaigopal, director of the Directorate of Onion and Garlic Research, another agriculture ministry organization, based at Rajgurunagar, midway between Nasik and Pune. "Exports have remained about 10% of total production for many years and another 10% is consumed in the processing industry," he estimates.

    So, where is all the onion going? Apart from some very immediate causes of a dip in supply because of a rainy spell in September causing transport problems, the real reason appears to be the way the supply chain of onions works in India.

    A report by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on India's onion market, released earlier this year, has pointed at the domination of traders and 'commission agents' right from the primary mandis onwards, squeezing both the farmers at one end and the consumers at the other.

    "We found that established big traders, through a complex system of oral and informal linkages, dominated the primary mandis, discouraging others, often pre-concluding negotiations on prices, stopping auctions and determining higher prices," explain Geeta Gouri, member of CCI.

    The report prepared by the Institute for Social & Economic Change, Bangalore, included a field study of farmers, wholesale traders, commission agents, retailers and consumers connected with 11 mandis in the onion belt of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

    "A few big traders having well connected networks with market intermediaries in other markets seem to play a major role in hoarding for expected high prices," the report emphasized.

    The average plot under onion was less than 1.3 acres per farmer, and most of them had no independent information about its prices. They paid what the commission agents or traders told them. The report highlighted a case in Ahmednagar where a fixed auction was witnessed between two traders. Onion price was bid up to Rs 405 and then the bidding was stopped and the onions divided up between the two bidders. In a free and impartial process, bids may have gone much higher.

    The CCI report found that farmers were getting about Rs 5 per kg for their onions. By the time the produce reached the urban consumer in, say Pune or Bangalore, the price had increased to Rs 20 or more, at the time of the survey.

    "Since agriculture is a state subject, we have sent the report to state governments. We are trying to persuade them to act on it," Gouri said.

    Experts believe that opening new mandis, allowing farmers to sell produce directly and strong action to break hoarding at all levels are necessary if the recurring price spikes are to be checked.

    Output much higher, so why are onions on fire? - The Times of India

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    I was seeing TV Debates last night.

    It is said it is being manipulated by politicians so that they stash up enough money as election funds.

    And that it is the grower (farmer) and the consumers who are suffering and everyone else is making a fortune!
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Potatoes one news reports says is next on the line!
     
  5. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    Onion crisis will be the death of UPA - This is an exaggerated statement.

    Whatever are the circumstances or the current situations, Majority people of India will still vote for Khangress or it's lackeys, they have been doing it for last 6 decades (except a patch of few years in between) and will continue to do so in future as well in the name of caste,religion and what not :facepalm:
     
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  6. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Why are we just focussing on the poor onion?

    In fact prices of all the vegetables are skyrocketing. Has anybody checked the price of various dals. Their prices are doubling every three years.

    Today in Delhi we are getting eggs almost Rs. 60 per dozen, a 2-3 years back it was Rs. 15-18 per dozen

    We are paying for 6 years of double digit inflation.
     
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  7. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

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    Onion is a kitchen essential, no dish can be made without it, in any case each and every family buy onions almost on daily basis. And such a high price means that it's a result of political black marketing. The report I saw in the news channel (sort of sting operation) proves that the shopkeepers are buying onions @Rs. 35-45 but selling @Rs. 80-100, earning almost Rs. 45-55 with each kg. , God knows how much out of that profit is going into the election funds of political parties !! govt can stop such profiteering and hoarding but doing nothing, it proves that something very fishy is going on there.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Yet, on a TV Debate, one fool of a politician said that the only way to bring the prices down is to stop eating it. And since onion is a perishable, the hoarders will be forced to get rid of the stock at correct proces!

    He added that it was not impossible to stop eating onions since a large majority do not eat onions in India.

    Not eat onions?

    He is as daft, idiotic and a purveyor of falsehood as Raj Babbar who eats a meal n :inr: 20 and Rashid chap, who ate a meal in DElhi at :inr: 5.
     
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  9. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    wow an onion revolution brewing up, housewives will take to the street, again, for hiking onion price. humble onion even has such a big role in elections. the 1st time to realize importance of onion in Indian cuisine.

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  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Something like Soy sauce for the Chinese or pork.

    No pig, no Chinese food!

    No soy sauce, Chinese cook in a soup!
     
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  11. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    pork is a staple food in many parts of the world - do u ever hear of Smithfield Foods the US' top pork supplier? - barring perhaps Muslims or Jews who deem pork as not halal or kosher, and Hindu who worship holy cow hence no no to beef. that's their respectable "culture " or faith but Chinese gluttons remain unmoved.

    in a mature society it's supply-n-demand that determines onion / garlic price so is soy sauce. why do Indians feel it's relevant to BJP or UPA's competence and even vote them in or out of power for that? enlighten us how your populist democracy operates.

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    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  12. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Not to worry - Congress has its loyal support base that has voted for them for 60 years.
     
  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Pork is a staple food for Chinese like rice and wheat is for others.

    Please see Page 17 for Map 2.2 Per Capita Consumption of Pork in China by Region (kg in rural, yuan in urban, 2009)


    and Map 2.3 Per Capita Consumption of Beef in China by Region (kg in rural, yuan in urban, 2009)


    Note beef consumption is basically of the non Han people of China.

    A top producer of Pork is no way indicative of it being the staple. It is just another meat product for consumption.

    In any society it is not supply and demand alone, it is also on tastes.

    Now, if pork is just too expensive in China, and in a hypothetical case since China is not a democracy, and there were elections, would not the matter of not having one's staple or essential vegetable not matter?
     
  14. dhananjay1

    dhananjay1 Regular Member

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    There would be riots on the streets if people can't afford potatoes. :rofl:
     

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