Onion, in India, has enriched traders, brought incensed women and men on to the streets and brought down governments! People of all classes consume onion in considerable quantity and any rise in its price tends to be politically sensitive. Indian curries and dishes are incomplete without it. But for the past few weeks onion price has risen exorbitantly and it has become a topic not only for the consumers but also for economists and politicians of the country.
Indiais the second largest onion producer in the world after China. It has been a commodity of export. But recent climatic changes, flood damages to crops and unsteady trade policies of the government have caused heavy hike in the price of this essential commodity.
Onion has such a power in the Indian politics that it can topple governments and decide election results. Failure of a ruling party to win the election in the year 1998 was attributed to onion price rise. The uncontrolled price of onion is frustrating and threatening the government today.
I remember an incident I experienced on a travel some years back. I was traveling by bus from Palani, a south Indian town, to Kodaikanal, a hill resort. The bus halted for a few minutes on the way when a villager with a big turban on his head got into the bus with a big basket. There was some croaking noise from the basket which was disturbing all the passengers. There were a few cocks and hens in the basket.
Everyone was looking at the basket curiously. The fellow who was sitting near the villager told him that the conductor wouldn’t allow carrying hens or cocks. The villager was replying that the conductor wouldn’t be able to find them out. He then covered the basket with a wet cloth. The croaking noise stopped suddenly. The next minute, while we were appreciating the quick wisdom of the villager, the conductor arrived there issuing tickets.
When the conductor demanded the villager what was in the basket he replied calmly that they were only onions.
“Onions? What a fool you are to cover the onions with a wet cloth, for they will perish. Remove the wet cloth and keep the onions in the open air.” The conductor himself took off the cloth. Immediately the hens and cocks began to fill the bus with croaking noise and the uncontrollable burst of laughter of all in the bus!
The conductor instead said, “Friend, cover your onions with wet cloth, otherwise the onions will croak!”
Yes, it is time for the Indian government now to cover the onions with a wet cloth; otherwise they will croak and cause a great damage!