Citizens' Issues
Hoarding of onions and potatoes! Stringent action needed!

The general feeling in the market circles is that influential traders in Nashik region are in collusion with wholesalers in a few selected cities who appear to be hoarding and release supplies by bottle-neck despatches to increase prices

Exactly a month ago, on 2nd June, the modal price, or the rate at which most trades took place, at Lasalgaon, Asia's largest onion market, was Rs1,050 per quintal or 100 kg. It has shot up to Rs1,850 for fair average quality while it is even higher at Rs2,300 for still better quality!


The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard in the primary markets such as Lasalgon, Pimpalgaon, Pune and Solapur receive the onions from various producing centres nearby. From the last year's production of 16.81 million tonnes, this year's output is estimated at 19.2 million tonnes. And yet, the retail prices throughout the country has been shooting through the roof! The reason is not far to seek: due both to hoarding and controlled "release" of the goods!


The general feeling in the market circles is that influential traders in Nashik region are in collusion with wholesalers in a few selected cities causing this price rise. They appear to be hoarding and release supplies by bottle-neck despatches.


Despite higher arrivals at Lasalgaon, averaging 1,500 tonnes a day, the price rise has resulted in food inflation. Earlier, to manage the domestic price situation, the government imposed a minimum export price of $300 per tonne, on 17th June, as large shipments are effected to the Gulf countries which great number of Indians and other Asians live. Due to the demand, and short supply, some exports were also effected, as reported in the press, at a higher level of $400 per tonne.


Pakistan, our traditional competitor, has always quoted about $10 to $40 less than Indian price, depending upon the market situation for supplies to Dubai, from where substantial transhipments take place to neighbouring gulf countries. India exports about 1.4 million tonnes annually to various countries, but the bulk goes to the Gulf Arab countries.


Since the domestic market situation continued to deteriorate, and supplies began to trickle down again, the Government revised the minimum export price (MEP) of onions to $500 per tonne, effective from 2nd July. The price rise in the domestic market has not abated and has been attributed to hoarding and the fear that there is most likelihood of poorly distributed monsoon which may also affect the Kharif crop.


As though the steep rise in onion price was not enough to put the pressure on the aam aadmi's kitchen budget, the price of potato has also been rising rapidly. Retail price of potato has been increasing by sudden leaps to reach Rs25-35 per kg level and the quality has also been not upto the mark.


In the meantime, it has been reported that the prices of fruits and vegetables have pushed up the whole sale price index (WPI) to a record high of 6.01% in five months to touch this level in May.


In order to prevent further increase in the domestic price of potato, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, who had earlier fixed the MEP of $300 for onions, which was raised to $500, has announced the MEP of $450 for Potato with immediate effect.


In the meantime, unfortunately, due to damage caused by fungal infection, also known as "Blight attack", there has been reports of potato crop damage in West Bengal, which is India's 2nd largest producer. As many as 4 million potato farmers in Bengal may be affected by this Blight attack. Since the intensity of Blight attack is directly related to changing weather conditions, it is reported in the press that private weather forecasting agencies are also attempting to educate the farmer to be on guard to prevent this.


Out of 4.63 million tonnes of potatoes produced in the country, only 100,000 tonnes are exported. Considering the popularity of this vegetable and the bright opportunity for export, it is essential that the Ministry of Agriculture do what they can to obtain better quality seeds and increase the cultivable area, besides educating the farmer to prevent Blight attacks.


It may gratifying to note that the Government has brought down both Onions and Potatoes under the Essential Commodities Act 1955, so as to improve availability throughout the country. Under this, a stockholding limit ensures that traders cannot stock more than the prescribed quantum. It is now expected that State officials take immediate steps to prevent hoarding and stern action taken against such traders.


Such a move is expected to ensure greater release of these essential commodities and fall in prices.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


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Privacy Tools: How to block online tracking
Many companies track your behaviour and request information about you without explicitly asking for your permission. Here’s how to combat the trackers 

Many sites (including ProPublica) track user behaviour using a variety of invisible third-party software. This means any time you visit a web page, you're likely sharing data about your online habits, from clicks to views or social shares, whether you realize it or not. But there are a few ways to combat online tracking – although none can block some of the more sophisticated tracking techniques, such as 'fingerprinting' and 'onboarding.' Here are three tools that block the most common trackers.
Featuring an ever-growing database of over 1,900 tracking entities, Ghostery's browser add-on can detect online trackers as you browse specific pages.
On each website, Ghostery displays a list of entities tracking data from that site in the upper right corner of the screen. Although it shows you all the trackers it detects, Ghostery does not block them by default. You must visit the settings page to block individual trackers or block all trackers.
If you don't mind being tracked by the third parties on a particular website, you can "whitelist" the site using the extension's dashboard.
Ghostery users are encouraged to opt in to Ghostrank, a service that sends anonymous information to a Ghostery server about where and how users encounter trackers. Ghostery is a for-profit company that analyzes the Ghostrank information and sells it to companies that want to manage their tracking businesses.
Ghostery is maintained by a team of analysts who keep the list of trackers up to date, according to Andy Kahl, Ghostery's Senior Director of Transparency.
Ghostery's add-on is available for most widely-used browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. It's also available for mobile devices on iOS and Firefox Android.
The Disconnect tracker add-on takes a user-friendly approach of blocking trackers by default, but allowing requests that it considers to be necessary for loading content.
Full disclosure: Disconnect gave ProPublica $7,759.54 last year in donations from its users and expects to contribute another $1,500 after featuring us as a Charity of the Month for May 2014.
Disconnect detects trackers based on the number of requests they've made for your information, and displays them in one of four categories: advertising, analytics, social and content. Users can re-enable a tracker or whitelist a website from the dashboard in the upper right hand corner of the Web browser.
The extension also features a nifty visualization of all of the requests surrounding the page you're on, with a graph of each third-party request connected to the current page, and a rundown of web resources saved by disabling trackers, like bandwidth and browsing speed.
Disconnect maintains its database of trackers by crawling popular websites for third-party requests, then categorizing those requests by type, according to co-founder Casey Oppenheim. The Disconnect database is open source, unlike Ghostery's library of trackers.
Disconnect also provides a separate browser extension that allows you to search anonymously on engines including Google, Bing, Blecko and DuckDuckGo. Disconnect routes your search queries through their own servers, so Google, for example, would effectively see and store your search as a request from Disconnect instead of you.
Disconnect also lets users view ratings for each website's privacy policies in nine color-coded icons designed to correspond to a variety of privacy concerns, from the expected collection and use of data according to the site's privacy policy, to SSL encryption and HeartBleed vulnerability. So far, Disconnect has evaluated and assigned icons to over 5,000 websites.
The site's own privacy policy promises never to collect IP addresses or any personal info except for the email addresses of users who sign up for their (opt-in) newsletter.
Disconnect tracking and security extensions are currently available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. The service also provides tracker-blocking options for iOS devices with its Disconnect Kids app. Disconnect's tracker-blocking code and database are available on Github.
Privacy Badger
This tracker-blocking tool is a new project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and uses an algorithm to "learn" which social or ad networks are tracking you over time.
That means the tool takes awhile to get going. It initially allows third-party trackers until it detects patterns in third-party requests. Then it will start automatically blocking what it considers "non-consensual invasions of people's privacy," according to its FAQ.
EFF decided to use an algorithm over a compiled filter list of trackers to make the extension harder to circumvent.
"Blocking algorithmically…is more responsive and is able to better protect users from all trackers, not just the ones we have identified as a problem," Cooper Quintin, a technologist working with EFF, wrote in an email.
Users can manually adjust blocking by using sliders that control access to their data in three levels: Completely blocking all requests from third-parties, blocking cookies from third-parties, and unblocking third party requests.
By default, the Privacy Badger will whitelist domains that it believes are necessary for web functionality. Those domains will automatically be blocked from leaving cookies, but will not be blocked completely unless the setting is manually adjusted, according to its FAQ.
Like Ghostery and Disconnect, users can also manually "whitelist" any site by disabling Privacy Badger on it.
In an interesting twist, Privacy Badger will allow trackers to unblock themselves if they post a privacy policy that honors users' "Do Not Track" requests. Currently, only a few tracking companies have agreed to not track users who check the "Do Not Track" button in their Web browsers.
Privacy Badger is available for Google Chrome and Firefox. A list for its "whitelisted" sites are available on Github along with the code for the extensions.
A note on methods for flagging trackers
If you install all three or any number of these add-ons concurrently, you will notice that they often detect a different number of trackers on any given page. That's because each service classifies tracking slightly differently.
Ghostery displays individual trackers per page based on its own database. Meanwhile, Disconnect displays the total number of requests made by detected trackers. And Privacy Badger flags third-party domains, not the number of requests made by those domains.
What do you use to keep yourself from being tracked online? Let us know in the comments section.
Looking for ways to make your web experience more secure from the Privacy Tools series? Read more on encrypting your files and messages, masking your location, safely browsing the web, taking data out of the hands of data brokers, and building better passwords.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled an Electronic Frontier Foundation technologist’s last name. His name is Cooper Quintin, not Quentin.



Bharat parikh

2 years ago

Moneylife Foundation’s Legal Resource Information Centre’s (LRIC) main objective is to provide information,
advice and preliminary guidance to persons needing legal help or planning legal action in 10 defined areas.

Some of word used in your Advice are
Your query is confusing.on giving Clarification in details for my Query You Say!
"Since your case is complicated and require more help on the ground, we suggest you to seek professional help from a lawyer".& said
"We request you to check our panel of experts and chose the appropriate one, suitable for your cause and let us know. We will provide you the contact details of the expert chosen by you".
In Reply I request
I would like to contact Prof. Shirish Shanbhag. of Patkar college Pls. provide contact details.
You did not Ans. Every time I send you request you never bother to respond I have to make Telecom after waiting for so long
& at last You said that
We are treating your case as closed at our end
I am sorry to say that without proper advice you discourage help & guidance asked.
Surely You are a non profit organisation But this type of attitude is not at all desirable nor make any sense to any person who has all respect for you. pls do the needful at the earliest.
Hope you received my clarification Dtd.15 June response to my query & request guidance Dtd.7 th June 2014.
Email I.D. [email protected]


Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Bharat parikh 2 years ago

We are surprised at your filing this comment here.
This is the reason why it becomes difficult for us to help.
Now let me state some facts:

Moneylife Foundation offers free legal guidance. But we make it clear that it is only on email, because we have extremely limited resources.
In fact, we have started the LRC with only 7 months funding and of this 4 months are over already.
A legal resource centre for middle class people who can pay is clearly not something that any philanthropist thinks is a worthy cause.
So when you have sent a query, you will have to wait patiently for a reply -- we have limited resources and a lot of queries. We also get emails from people who will not make the effort to fill out the form but expect help over the weekend when we are closed.
I am afraid that is not possible.

Coming to your case:
We have repeatedly replied to you. In fact, immediately the first time.
Your case is complicated, it need professional handling -- this became very evident when we asked you for clarifications on your earlier email.
Again, let me reiterate that we work with limited resources and most of us work for the Moneylife magazine and make time for LRC work.
If you do not appreciate the speed of our work (which in any case is not more than a week) we again urge you to seek paid professional help.
You must accept that not-for-profit activities have limitations and resource constraints.

best Sucheta Dalal, Trustee, Moneylife Foundation

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