I open WSJ this morning and BAM! An article about onions on the front page. Not just any onions, but onions in India. Apparently the kitchen king in all our Indian dishes has taken on a price increase like never before. If you thought gold was expensive, take a look at a kilo of onions. A whooping Rs.70/kg. So if your stock options and mutual funds are raking in mud instead of dollars, good time to think about investing in onions. Joke!
This article was an eye opener. This quiet merry maker in all dishes is reeking havoc not just among the masses, but also is beginning to shake the parliament. Yes! You got it. This root vegetable is also a political king pin. The government has responded like it is a national emergency. All exports of onions have been banned for the next month. So desperate is the situation that we are looking at Pakistan now for help. An estimated 2,000 – 3,000 tons of onions will arrive soon to meet the shortage. The prime minister, the agriculture minister, and the famed Rahul Gandhi have all intervened to reassure the common people. All this because if there were elections anywhere in the near future, the Congress Party would definitely have reasons to be worried. So price control becomes a problem of metamorphic proportions.
In a country, where the poor survive on less than a dollar a day, having to pay a staggering Rs. 70 for a kilo of onions is simply daunting. This is more than text-book economics. Onions go up, then will follow tomatoes, garlic, lentils and everything else. Anyone remembers the time when the NRI was denied the comfort of dal and rice just a year ago because we had the same situation. Rice and dal were banned for export for the longest time I can remember. My kitchen was deprived of the wafting aroma of sona masoori and sambar. The stove top cried in anguish every single day for want of spluttering mustard seeds and curry leaves. Blah! These are just silly ruminations of a tea high mind in the morning.
But the fact remains that basic sustenance is still a very large issue that we have to contend with at home. So until the prices of onions stabilize lets all turn to alternatives. How about radishes or potatoes in your chicken curry and paneer tikka masala? Any takers?