The big drought

The big drought

India’s worst monsoon in four decades came to an end on Wednesday. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said this was the country’s most severe drought since 1972 with a 23% rainfall deficit spanning over 60% of the country.

Typically, a 10% shortage over 20% of the country qualifies as a drought, according to IMD’s definition. The met department didn’t anticipate a drought in April when it prepared its first monsoon performance estimates.

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Several research teams across the country are still trying to understand why this year’s drought was so intense, though most of the blame is put on an El Nino event—the warming of certain regions in the Pacific Ocean, which draws out moisture from the monsoon clouds.

However, comfortable buffer stocks of wheat and rice from previous years, timely subsidies by government on diesel, groundwater irrigation and higher minimum support prices for foodgrain buffered farmers from a severe hit to their incomes.

Graphics by Ahmed Raza khan / Mint