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Friday, September 20, 2013

Mumbai Rains: Final Monsoon Cheers And Onion Tears!



The 10-day Ganesh Festival in Mumbai this year was highlighted by one unique natural element—rains. It was termed unique because of its unerring consistency. Lightning and thunder marked almost every evening of the period with accompanying rains—at times quite heavy—most of the times. Mumbaikars worshiping their beloved God got almost used to it and made preparations in advance every evening. Most of them were not at all disheartened as the rains submerged the soaring heat bringing welcome cheers. Mumbai has just recorded the lowest-in-a-decade September day temperature. However, a lot of them were very disadvantaged caught by lighting and thunder on the beaches on most of the immersion days.

The consistency even improved. On the day of final immersion that is Wednesday-September 18 intense bursts of lightening and thunder started around midnight. And then the heavy rains that continued throughout the night and all of Thursday wiping out any rain deficit some areas might have been having even after a very productive South West Monsoon-2013.

One major cause of this unique consistency could be that the whole of August saw little or no rains. And of course, the Monsoon must have been planning all the time to bid a very strong and memorable adieu to Mumbaikars. However, man is immensely capable of negating Nature’s benevolence and bounty with exemplary greed, malevolence and selfishness.

Despite a most welcomed productive Monsoon the prices of vegetables, particularly onions, soared, soared and soared. The official reason shown was that there were excessive rains in some onion-producing regions of Maharashtra affecting the production adversely and therefore prices would have to remain high till new crops arrived in the markets. But experts confidently say that while production fell by just 10 percent prices rose by nearly 250 percent. Imagine, a vegetable normally selling for 10-15 rupees rose to 70-80 rupees a kilo. Add all kinds of costs including transport costs to the earlier price accounting for everything and even after that the hike cannot be justified. Experts say further that in wholesale markets the price is around 55 rupees a kilo and with all costs included the retailers cannot sell it for a price more than 60 rupees a kilo. The experts stop here and do not want to explain further for obvious reasons.

Well, there is windfall season for all middlemen and retailers with the political network thrown in as the hapless farmers look on puzzled. Not only in Mumbai, but all over India. No doubt mortals like you and me are shedding onion tears of absolute separation, but the ‘rightly’ blessed ones are rolling over the loot. What could the government do apart from sounding hollow warnings to hoarders not to artificially hike prices of onions by keeping back stocks illegally?

Why shed tears o’ fellow citizens? Say no to onions! You won’t die of hunger! And, next time don’t vote for the ‘onion politicians’!
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