Indians in tears over skyrocketing onion prices
MUMBAI: There is much that divides India and its traditional rival Pakistan: families long separated by partition, divided Kashmir, fear of a fourth war between the nuclear adversaries. But when it comes to the Great Onion Crisis of 2010, grateful India has found a friend across the border.
Onion prices across India have more than doubled to as much as 90 cents a pound this month, sending shock waves through vegetable market and kitchen alike in a country where many subsist on $1 a day. Some have taken to the streets in protest bedecked in onion garlands. "Ever Had Biriyani Without Onions?" screamed a headline in the Mid Day tabloid. So important is the humble onion that state governments in Delhi and Rajasthan fell in 1998 over rising onion prices and the "onion factor" helped overthrow the central government in 1980. After initially ignoring the looming shortage, the government quickly banned exports, promised to release strategic "onion reserves," eliminated import duties and doubled the number of rail carriages devoted to the vital vegetable. That's where Pakistan comes in. For most of the last week, it delivered on average about 50 trucks each carrying 10 tons of onions daily.
Little moved on Christmas, an Indian holiday, or Sunday, with shipments expected to resume Monday. Some Indian traders complain that the quality of bulbs from Pakistan's Sindh province was inferior to domestic production from Rajasthan or Gujarat states.
Some Middle East nations also are competing with India for Pakistan's onions even as the added demand drives up domestic onion prices in Pakistan. And India, the world's second-largest onion producer, is considering importing about 50,000 tons from the world's largest producer, China. -Afp
MADRID: Newly elected Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE) President Juan Rosell (R) and Spain's Economy Minister Elena Salgado pose for a picture before their meeting at Madrid's economy ministry Monday. -Reuters