Prices of onions are still high in India. A single kilogram of the household staple still costs around Rs 100 in many places across the country.
The situation is only now coming back to normal. The prices had, after all, reached Rs 200 per kg in some pockets.
As the country clears its onion-induced tears, Times of Food takes a look at 20 ways onions made news in India over the past few weeks:
Doing away with onions
1. The price of onions has led to restrictions in several parts of the country. For example, one report claims several restaurants in Bengaluru have removed the Onion Dosa — known in some other parts of the country as Uthapam — from their menu.
2. Earlier this month, restaurants in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi reportedly put up notices outside their establishments asking patrons not to order any dish that contained onions.
3. Meanwhile, Madurai hotels were replacing onions with cabbages and cucumbers in some dishes. The cucumbers replaced onions in raita, while cabbages made their way into samosas and vadas.
Freebies and gifts
4. Onions are now being used as a marketing gimmick in some cases. A businessman in Hapur in Uttar Pradesh started offering 1 kg onion free to the customer for every smartphone sold. Apparently, the marketing tactic has been a great success!
5. Another businessman, this time in the Thane district of Maharashtra, has started offering 1 kg onion free for every cloth purchase of Rs 1,000 or more.
6. Meanwhile, news emerged a little more than a week ago of a Tamil Nadu couple getting a unique gift for their wedding. Apparently, friends pitched in to give them a bouquet of onions!
7. Another bride and groom managed to sort-of one-up this gesture. This Varanasi-based couple exchanged garlands made of onions at their wedding!
8. However, perhaps the most-talked-about incident in this series of events pertains to actor Akshay Kumar and his wife Twinkle Khanna. She recently posted on Instagram a photo of what appeared to be onion earrings, gifted to her by hubby dearest!
9. One reprehensible by-product of the rise in onion prices in the country has been the theft of the vegetable, reported from several places across the country.
In one instance, thieves decamped with sacks of onion worth Rs 50,000 in West Bengal. The incident, which took place late last month, was even more bizarre for the fact that the miscreants did not even touch the cash box at the shop!
10. Then, a week ago, two people were held in Mumbai for stealing onions worth Rs 21,000. According to India Today, which reported on the incident, a total of three people were accused of the crime.
11. On Tuesday, thieves in Jaipur allegedly ran away with 40 kg of onion from a market in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. According to the Times of India, this was the second such incident within a fortnight in the city.
12. However, possibly the biggest such crime was reported from Madhya Pradesh. A truck headed from Nashik in Maharashtra to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh was found empty along the side of the road in MP. Missing were onions worth Rs 20 lakh!
13. Such thefts have been reported across the country, spooking sellers all over. One such seller in Surat in Gujarat has employed a night guard at his shop to prevent onion theft!
14. A 55-year-old man reportedly died of heart attack while waiting in queue to buy onions earlier this month. The incident from Andhra Pradesh was just one of the many onion-related casualties in the country.
15. In Belagavi in Karnataka, four people were injured in a brawl after two of them asked extra onions to be served with their biryani. The other two — waiters at the establishment — refused, leading to a knife-fight that left the customers severely injured.
16. Meanwhile, stampedes at state-run markets have been leading to injuries in Andhra Pradesh, where the government is selling onions at subsidised prices. In a recent incident, four people were injured in such a market in Parvatipuram as crowds rushed into the market when gates opened.
Politics over onions
17. It was no surprise that anything affecting the common man would be politicised, especially by the Opposition parties. What was surprising, though, was Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement on the issue.
Sitharaman said in Parliament: “I don’t eat much of onion and garlic. I come from a family that doesn’t have much to do with onion.”
She was squarely slammed on all quarters, with spoofs and cartoons of her appearing on social media. She was also called “elitist” for the statement.
18. The BJP, however, buckled down, with Sitharaman receiving support from several quarters. Union minister Ashwini Choubey was quoted by ANI as saying: “I am a vegetarian. I have never tasted an onion. So, how will a person like me know about the situation (market prices) of onions?”
Other political parties, however, took political advantage of the rising onion prices.
19. Bihar political heavyweight Pappu Yadav sold onions for Rs 35 per kg outside the BJP office in the state capital Patna. The sale — a form of protest against the Central government led by the BJP — reportedly attracted several buyers.
A silver lining?
20. With so many unnerving things happening because of rising prices of onions, it was a breath of fresh air when it emerged that something good had come of it. It made a farmer named Mallikarjuna from the Chitradurga district of Karnataka a crorepati!
The farmer had taken a loan of Rs 15 lakh, hoping to make a profit of Rs 5-10 lakh. However, he ended up with a bumper crop of Rs 240 crore. He then sold the entire stock for Rs 200 per kg, which resulted in a huge windfall for Mallikarjuna.
He is expected to be in the elite crorepati club even after making all the loan payments and paying the salary of the 50-odd people working in his 10-acre farm.