When India’s monsoon fails try alternate arrangements

Lata Jain

A standard scene for the Indian film makers is a bolly wood starlet drenched in the natural monsoon rains from July to October. It is the sexist time of the year with poets and novelists, giving a picture of romance and fun in the rainy season. Cities erupt in joy as fat, dust filled rain drops flop down and villagers enjoy the aroma of the sound and rush to their agricultural lands with hope of a good harvest.

In India the monsoon months of June to September provide three quarters of total rainfall, an average of 90 cms (about 35 inches). Somewhere reports are failing, predictions are going wrong. Evidence from the past century suggests that monsoon is growing less stable. Lack of proper infrastructure and resources has hampered scientists work.

Last few years rains have failed. Around 600m people, half of India’s population (2012 census), depend on farming and nearly two thirds have no irrigation so must rely on the mercy on the rain god. Drought and millions in India see their income crash. Inflation increases. Food prices would rise. Droughts push up global prices as India is the highest exporter of rice.

Lagaan, Amir Khans movie is one of the best movies depicting the long wait for the rains. Waiting for the monsoon is an annual ritual for a farmer. Farmers yearn to start planting.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) in its latest report says, “Normal monsoon years are likely to be less frequent in India”. It recalls “abrupt shifts “in the Indian monsoon in the past 1000 years that give rise to prolonged and intense droughts. Himalayan glaciers are retreating.

India Though more heat means excess rains but they should arrive in the right time, place and intensity. If one observes the distribution Northern India is flooding and most states in South are in drought.

India is polluted country. Pollution is increasing by the day. More particles in the air, despite the heating, rainfall has been declining slightly overall says environmentalist. More particle filled air could also mean monsoons dropping water in even more destructive style and bursts.

History shows rainfall having failed several times but there are better alternatives to protect farming and increase the food production.

Technology has advanced. Better technology in farming. Improve the infrastructure for weather reporting. We should invest on reservoirs, small scale water harvesting, drip irrigation and reduce pollution.

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