Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

2012 Indian Monsoon is faltering

The Great Indian Monsoon is faltering, it has failed in the very fast fortnight of June, 2012  and shows no sign of picking up.

One may say, what's the big deal? Well, India, which hosts 1/6th of humanity, has 66% of population directly involved into monsoon-fed agriculture, which means 1 out of every 9 human being on the planet depends on it! Too much rainfall would flood the plains, too little will create heatwave and of course, on long-term (say a  couple of weeks to months) cause severe drought.

Indian Met Office has become very pro-active in releasing data regarding monsoon rainfall now. As can be seen from

But this is just number crunching, and might not interest all. IMD also creates a Map of the rainfall data. Since the image file changes from time to time, I have saved the rainfall map of 1 june to 13 June. IMD maps excess that usual in blue, Normal in green, red as deficient, yellow as scantly rain.

Now you get the picture, Excess rainfall is only remote islands of Andaman & Nicobar, Normal rain is in Himalayan & North-east states. Apart from North-east other places are not known for cultivation, none of them are hub of agricultural employment.

In India, we have a culture of gentlemanly lethargy, we expect media & govt to take all action. We would take comfort that India has its own satellite to track rain, storm etc. Unfortunately for us, satellites can't create rain (though impression of clouds can be made by tweaking frequency of IR). And satellites has been reporting the truth to us, perhaps we are blind or just too naive to see realize it.

 Lets compare two satellite images of last year and this year:
Image taken on Jun 14, 2012 23:30 IST

Image taken on Jun 14, 2011 23:30 IST

Is there any human cost of a failed/delayed monsoon. Well, of course, heatwave has killed hundreds in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa & West Bengal. Imagine hundreds of normal people (not counting sick or elderly) dead due to heatstroke. Summer vacation of schools extended. Since India is in tropics without the shade and cooling of monsoon, things will only be worse.

Another side-effect of failed monsoon will be inflation, since commodity market is mostly unregulated and unorganized, hoarding and speculation will be rampant. Due to federal structure of Indian governance, a blame game would ensue between union and state governments. The food price will hit sky-high in India. That was the experience of the last drought.

Lets hope, we do better in coping with this natural calamity this time.