Friday, June 27, 2014

Why is the IMD feeding the media outright spin regarding rainfall deficiency?

Speculation of the monsoon performance has become the central focus of our economy so much our Prime Minister is reported to monitor reports almost real time. So why is it so central? According to industry body Assocham, a 1 per cent deficit in rains could hurt India's economic growth by 0.35 per cent. Assuming a 20% deficiency, our GDP will no doubt be deeply in the red, given that last year GDP was within the sub 5 range. 
In this context, NDTV interviewed Mr DS Pai, Director, Long Term Forecasting of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). Here are extracts from the interview:
"Mr Pai of Indian Meteorological Department says he is optimistic that monsoon will improve in July and will cover the rainfall deficiency in June. "From first week of July monsoon will pick up. June deficiency may not lead to season deficiency," he added.

Comparing this year's June rainfall with the 2009 situation when El Nino turned India's monsoon rain patchy, Mr Pai said, "By end-June 2009, we had a deficiency of around 47 per cent but by July it became only 3 per cent."
But look at the hard data for 2009. The season's rainfall deficiency for 2009 ended up at 22%. While DS Pai cannot be accused for untruth, he can be questioned whether he deliberately suppressed information to misled a nation. It is also amazing that the IMD likes to convince the nation that the monsoon will pickup right from first week of July. Unfortunately he does not tell us what the monsoon drivers are behind his optimism. As far as model outlooks go, the situation looks extremely grim even as we enter first week July! Even otherwise, farmers need rain not only for sowing and their investment is at risk if rainfall fails during the growing cycle of crops.

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