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Issue No.: 559 | January 2014
 

A Triangle of Deceit: Onions, Gold and Black Gold

Jyoti Marwah
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Do not be surprised if investors approach you for buying share for something like‘Onion Authority of India’.

The wise believe ‘you are dust and into dust you shall return.’  The not-so-wise falter to believe ‘from dust to gold, you shall grow’. So it is all underground, literally and figuratively– onions, gold and black gold, to make them grow. Hey wait a little; let us spare the onions, tomatoes and eggs as they are the common man’s staple diet. Our politicians, like the Chinese, can make anything happen to achieve their end. How appreciable can that be? They purposefully make faulty statements that send prices shooting up; onions and vegetables continue to be out of reach, milk and sugar prices spiral several times and eggs become dearer. What a mess are we in!!!

The Chinese can make it all happen; you name it and it is there to add on to the list of fake medicines, pirated movies and low quality electronics fake gold and silver bars, coins and jewellery, both old and new. Indian politicians have mesmerised the masses with a long list of ‘freebees’- free food, free medicines, free laptops, free bicycles for girls, free education and free homes and above all ‘freedom to control freedom’ by doctored tapes, snooping and stalking. Oh! What an irony!

With the economic downturn, gold and silver prices shot up, investors bought gold and silver as a safe investment. However, many did not realise that the gold and silver bought by them could amount to holding a pile of worthless metal. High quality tungsten fake gold bars are extremely difficult to detect as tungsten is the only lower value metal that has the density which is like gold and can be comfortably used to fabricate counterfeit gold coins, bars, and jewellery. Thus there is a high potential for deception. Some manufacturers are scrupulous enough to caution the buyer – that they sell ‘genuine solid tungsten fake gold coins’ but the same may not be true in other cases as it is a multi-billion dollar industry in which criminals may unscrupulously dupe innocent buyers in China and Asia. 

According to ‘The Global Piracy and Counterfeiting Consultant’, it has been estimated that nearly 10% of China’s GDP flows is in from counterfeit items amounting to $588 billion annually. The group has reported claims by a manufacturer about his ability to produce hundred thousand counterfeit US silver dollars. Gold demand in China surged very high putting it close to a striking distance in India’s gold demand of 612 tonnes in 2009. Standard Bank of London has suggested that China’s demand could shoot up by nearly 75%. Thus, gold has become precariously dearer. 

As the precious yellow metal is underground and investing in fake gold is no viable option, it could be wiser to invest in black gold! It is estimated that while in the last 10 years gold moved from nearly 300 dollars to approximately 1425 dollars per ounce, returns on oil were extraordinarily high moving from less than 20 dollars in 2001 to the present value of 93-110 dollars per barrel. The rationale to invest in oil therefore strengthens. China, India and many other emerging economies indicate increasing demand for energy. This increased demand is difficult to meet as production of oil requires large capital investments in multiple projects. There are predictions that the world’s oil supply has peaked resulting in high prices of oil. Hence, this investment may also not be without the risk factor. 

Time has come to invest in the humble ‘allyl propyl disulfide’– onions. So do not be surprised if investors approach you for buying share for something like ‘Onion Authority of India’. This may soon become a reality with the unprecedented rise in the price of a commodity which is produced in such abundance and its consumption is widespread. Of the 20 lakh hectares producing onions in the world, India cultivates 4 lakh hectares and China cultivates 3 lakh hectares. In India, of the 4 lakh hectares, 95,000 hectares accounts for to 24% of produce cultivated in Maharashtra. However, China having higher productivity produces 48 lakh MT and India trails by 44 lakh MT. 

Control and more control has become the way of life not in Communist China but in Democratic and ‘socialist’ India. Can we see the gradual loss of freedom even to consume food, as the high prices of onions, potatoes and tomatoes have driven the popular food items underground. How fair is to create a shortage of food products widely used by all? The poor have been cheated of the ‘onion tomato chutney’, a major component in their daily meals, as prices have been fluctuating between Rs. 70 to 100 per kg. 

Is this also an election stunt amounting to corruption of an unprecedented nature? Is sugar next in line to follow! Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first time felt the need to intervene while the Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar skipped the meeting as farmers in Karad and other parts of Western Maharashtra agitated in the last week of November demanding Rs. 3,000 per quintal for sugar cane.

There is a common thread running through these travails of the common man; ‘Onion gate’, ‘Sugar gate’, ‘Egg gate’ every effort made to throttle him. What a Diwali and what a New Year. It’s all for the elections of 2014.

Dr. JYOTI MARWAH, I/C Principal & Head, Department of History, ICLES’ Motilal Jhunjhunwala College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Navi Mumbai 400703
Member, Board of Studies (History) & Faculty of Arts
University of Mumbai,
Jmarwah01@yahoo.in
 
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A Triangle of Deceit: Onions, Gold and Black Gold

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Onion Crisis Hits India

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