20 January, 2021

A Tear-Jerker

The government has belatedly woken up to the crisis. But timely measures could have averted the shortage.

Tribhuvan Tiwari
A Tear-Jerker
It's festive season, no compromise on shopping. But a vegetable—consumed everyday by most households—is bringing tears to their eyes. In fact, several people like Suryakant Sawant, a retired Mumbaikar, have stopped buying onions for weeks. The last time Sawant checked, onions were selling at Rs 30 per kg or nearly three times the price in July '05. So, he came back empty-handed and scrounged around for the few remaining ones at home. "So far, we've managed to do without fresh buying but we may need to buy some before Diwali," he says mournfully.

Across the country, from Calcutta to Mumbai, Delhi to Chennai, buyers are complaining about the high prices, bad quality and even a shortage of onions. The unabated, one-way price movement also led to protests. The backlash forced both the central and the state politicians and bureaucrats to sit up and initiate speedy action. For a good reason too.

In the recent past, onions have proved to be India's most politically sensitive crop. In 1998, a similar increase in its retail price led to the defeat of the BJP in four state...


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