India’s inflation rate hit a six-month high of 6.1% in August.
Food prices were up 18.2% on the year, and this was led by a mind-blowing 245% annual rise in onion prices.
Food costs account for a significant portion of the Indian people’s income, and onions are a critical ingredient in most every Indian meal.
This explains why officials are wary of rising onion prices.
While the $US1.10 might not seem like much, it’s a hefty price tag in India and the volatility doesn’t help.
Here are some of the crazy things we’ve seen around India in the aftermath of soaring onion prices.
- Onion Groupon Deals: Groupon India offered onions at Rs. 9 for a kg, in response to surging onion prices, and the offer caused the site to crash. This represented an 85% discount to a market price of Rs. 60 at the time the deal went live. It was the first time Groupon India had a deal on onions.
- Onion Bank Deposits: To protest rising onion prices a member of the state legislature from the BJP deposited onions at a local bank, the New York Times reported, citing local media.
- Onion Snipers: In 1998, a television satirist said he had asked the Bombay police for the protection of sharpshooters because he intended to buy 10 kilos of onions. At the time mobs had looted government vegetable storage buildings and trucks loaded with onions, New Straits Times reported.
- Onion Heists: Indian police thwarted thieves in the process of taking off with a truck full of onions. The thieves decided to target onions because the price of the vegetable had surged and because of the weakness in the rupee.
- Onion Government Takedowns: Rising onion prices have led to the downfall of governments. In 1980, onion prices played a large part in bringing down the Janata Party alliance during general elections. In 1998, the BJP lost state elections in Delhi because of soaring onion prices.
- Onion Weaponization: An onion farmers union in Western India had offered Rs 1,000 (approx. $US16) to anyone who could knock out a government minister with an onion, New Straits Times reported.