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With its capacity for bringing down governments and scarring political careers, the onion plays an role in Indian politics. This week, reports of rising onion prices have made front-page news and absorbed the attention of the governing elite.
The most ingredient in Indian cooking, the element with which all dishes begin and, normally, the cheapest vegetable available, the pink onion is an essential item in the shopping basket of families of all classes. But in recent weeks, the onion has started to seem an unaffordable for India's poor. Over the past few days, another sharp in prices has begun to unsettle the influential urban middle classes. The sudden spike in prices has been caused by large exports to neighbouring countries and a shortage of . But the increase follows a trend of rising consumer prices across the board — from diesel fuel to cement, from milk to lentils.