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CNBC's Inside India newsletter: The humble onion could be holding India's economy hostage

This report is from this week's CNBC's "Inside India" newsletter which brings you timely, insightful news and market commentary on the emerging powerhouse and the big businesses behind its meteoric rise. Like what you see? You can subscribe  here.

A curry without onions would be considered blasphemous by much of India.

So, even a modest change in the price of the bulbous vegetable soon becomes the talking point around dinner tables for hundreds of millions of people in the country.

And it has been for the past year.

The price of raw onions has risen 165% over the past year, according to the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee, which is India's largest wholesale onion market. Prices have also inflated for other vegetates, such as tomatoes, which now cost nearly twice as much as this time last year.

Poor weather has been behind much of the havoc. The drought last year and the ongoing heatwave, which CNBC has previously reported on, have disrupted the supply of staple foods such as grains and vegetables.

Temperatures in large parts of the country are about 4 to 9 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 16.2 Fahrenheit) above average for this time of the year. The high heat has spoilt large amounts of recently harvested and stored vegetables and is threatening to stop the planting of a fresh batch of crops.

Food prices, which rose an annual 8.7% in both April and May, account for nearly half of the overall consumer price basket. The sharp rise in the cost of food has kept headline inflation above the central bank's target of 4%, preventing it from cutting interest rates.

"The Indian economy remains hostage to intersecting food price shocks," Michael Patra, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, said in his statement at the