India

Indian media: Concern over price of 'humble onion'

Media feel the rising prices of onions will hurt the government's popularity
Image caption Media feel the rising prices of onions will hurt the government's popularity

Media in India are expressing concern over the rising prices of vegetables, including onions, in several parts of the country.

While the price of onions may not resonate in other countries, the story is different in India.

The Times of India says the "humble onion" has hurt governments in the past but politicians appear not to have learned lessons..

"Call it the demise of institutional memory from our polity or plain cynicism that there was a time when growing onion prices contributed to the fall of [the] otherwise credible Janata Party government in 1981 forcing Indira Gandhi (ex-PM), who made a big comeback after her unceremonious exit in 1977, to call it the onion election," says the paper.

Onions are an important part of any middle-class family's shopping list in India and the current price of almost 100 rupees per kilogram (just over a pound), up from usual 15-20 rupees per kilogram, is making their lives tough.

The NDTV website reports that "onions are being provided free with the purchase of car and truck tyres by one tyre seller in the eastern city of Jamshedpur to protest against the rise in the price of the edible bulb".

"This will really sting - the staple of cooking and salad plates, the onion, is all set to hit Rs 100/per kilogram in retail markets in a week," says the Economic Times.

"Congress-ruled Delhi state goes to elections in November this year. In 1989, the then BJP-ruled Delhi state government was famously voted out on the back of the electorate's anger at high onion prices. Onion's century has come at a first clip. Retail prices were around 20 rupees only two months ago," the paper adds.

Meanwhile, newspapers including The Hindu and The Indian Express have expressed scepticism over the government's recent measures - including a hike in the import duty on gold - to stop the depreciation of the rupee.

"The government's new package might not yet succeed in stabilising the rupee. The time has come to view the rapid rupee depreciation in a larger perspective," says The Hindu.

The Indian Express says that the government needs to ensure growth prospects are not harmed by currency stabilization efforts.

"There is a clear conflict between a policy of defending the rupee and one of promoting growth. The main question is: will the economy be better off with the rupee at 60, or with higher interest rates that risk hurting growth further through a tight money policy," asks the paper.

Preparations for Thursday's Independence Day celebrations are also making news, with The Times of India reporting on heightened security in Delhi after city police received "terror threat inputs" from the Intelligence.

"The police have also decided to increase patrolling at 534 'sensitive' points in the city," the paper says.

Meanwhile, anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare is set to lead the "traditional" Indian Independence Day parade in New York, the Hindustan Times reports.

Mr Hazare is visiting the US for "the sole purpose of spreading his message of peaceful non-violent method of eradicating corruption", said a group of his supporters in the US.

Meanwhile, British author Jeffery Archer will hold an auction on behalf the Pataudi Trust - named after late Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi - to raise funds for the blind in India, The Times of India reports.

Archer will help sell cricket memorabilia including a special bat signed by the teams of the ongoing Ashes tournament between England and Australia.

Other memorabilia include a bat signed by members of the Champions Trophy-winning Indian cricket team, a ball signed by Anil Kumble and a bat autographed by Rahul Dravid.

In sports news, badminton fans in India have a reason to be happy as the 17-day Indian Badminton League kicks off today.

The tournament may be a game changer for the sport in India, which is often looked at as only a "friendly community sport," reports say.

And finally, the Ministry of Human Resources Development has launched a free online library to benefit school students

"Learning materials offered on the government website are in different formats, from concept maps to videos, audio clips, talking books, multimedia, learning objects, photographs, diagrams, charts, articles, wikipages and textbooks," says the Deccan Herald.

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