India’s competition regulator has been showing its teeth. But is it biting first and asking questions later … if at all? Rebecca Abraham reports

The humble onion is arguably the most important ingredient in Indian cuisine. Its price has recently soared almost 50%, creating a hole in household budgets. While commentators criticize the government for failing to control onion prices, the more discerning point to the existence of cartels.

Referring to a 2012 study commissioned by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which assessed competition in India’s market for onions, a column in Mint recently said that “the root cause of the surge in onion prices is collusion among a few traders”, and urged the government to take action against “an unholy nexus” among traders.

The onion market is just one of several that the CCI has had its eyes on. But that anti-competitive agreements are being identified as the cause of what has is generally seen as a seasonal occurrence is a sign that India’s antitrust regulator is making its presence felt.

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