In South Asia’s Onion Politics, India Plays Hardball


And there are the foreign policy implications: India’s neighbors are suffering, and angry.

In Dhaka, the teeming capital of Bangladesh, the price of onions is out of control, jumping 700 percent in recent months and doubling in the past week alone.

One street vendor said people were so angry at him for his prices that they called him a “bandit.”

To spare himself the stress, he said he just stopped selling onions. Other vendors have done the same. In the past few days, onions have vanished from many of Dhaka’s streets.

Onions are one of those flavors that have no real substitute. They go into almost every curry.

“The onion is now like the gold of the kitchen market,” said Mohammad Bilash, a restaurant manager.

Mr. Bilash said he had to drastically cut down the amount of chopped onion he sprinkled into his famous biryani, a rice dish. “Cooking biryani without onion is impossible,” he proclaimed.

In Nepal, people are hunkering down for a long and grueling onion crisis. Last year, the country imported 370 million pounds of Indian onions. Now the onions aren’t coming in.

On Tuesday, at the Kalimati market in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, where countless bins were heaped with eggplants, green beans, limes, carrots and tomatoes, there were lots of long faces and creased foreheads.

“We can’t make onions in factories, and local production is minimal,” said Bijaya Shrestha, the market’s spokesman. “Our only option is to eat less onion.”

Source : Nytimes