Onions on Rakhi

Today is one more of India’s oh so many semi public holidays: the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan, or short Rakhi. Sisters tie sacred threads around their brothers wrists for their protection – so the bond between them is celebrated. Brothers in return offer a gift to their sisters.

Yashwant Sinha, a senior politician, said a couple of days ago: When my sisters come to me to tie ‘rakhi’ i will give them onions instead of Gold or Silver.


I did it – I bought some of the expensive vegetables.

Amidst soaring prices, especially in food, onions have once again become a symbol for inflation. Most Indians are using onions in basically every meal, and some form of bread with onion is regarded as a basic diet for the poor.

Besides their importance of being staple food, onions are also a yardstick of how happy Indians are when they go to the market. Local media are reporting that it’s inability to control onion prices had led the Bharitya Janata Party (BJP) to lose power in Delhi in 1998. Since then it has failed to return.

Now the ruling UPA coalition is under fire, because the volatile onion price climbed to 80 Rupees per kilogram (about 1 Euro). People started protesting on the streets, wearing necklaces made out of onions. In Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, a tyre seller was giving away free onions as a mark of protest against the rising prices.

The main opposition party BJP took the opportunity to catch some votes and sold onions at a reduced price of INR 20 per kg to slum dwellers in Bhopal. The ruling parties, in an attempt to secure their power, are selling onions through mobile fair-priced shops, for example in West Bengal and the capital. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit wants to bring down the prices to 25-30 Rupees.

Even imports from the unfriendly neighbour states Pakistan and China were considered – despite the ongoing ceasefire violations at the Line of Control. And newspapers are printing onion-free recipes (“No onion? No need to shed tears!“)

Onions are also trending topic on twitter over and over again. @prash_Shuks wrote: “Today no one is worried about rising prices of petrol, thanx to #onion policy of our govt.” And @anuradha_kush is lashing out on both, the onion price and the crumbling rupee: “What rupee is falling, rupee is falling? Look at the bigger picture. Even our onion is more valuable than their dollar.”

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