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Dummies guide to south-west monsoons

business Updated: Jul 28, 2012 23:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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What brings it on?
The monsoon, which spans from June to September, is essentially a reversal of wind patterns: cool oceanic breeze blows over the hot Indian landmass, resulting in rainfall. It starts over Kerala, its first port of call in the Indian mainland, in the first week of June. The rain-bearing system typically covers the whole of India within a month.

Why are the monsoons so important for India?
Two-thirds of Indians depend on farm income and over 40% of our cropped area does not have any form of irrigation other than the rains. Millions of farmers wait for the rains to begin summer sowing of major staples, such as rice, sugar, cotton, and coarse cereals. For good farm output, the rains have to be not just robust but also evenly spread across states. The monsoons also replenish 81 nationally monitored water reservoirs vital for drinking, power and irrigation.

How does monsoon impact the economy?
When rain-dependent farm output is robust, rural income and spending goes up. This creates demand for manufactured goods, which in turn helps the general economy. For example, 48% of all motorcycles and 44% of TV sets are sold in rural India.

How does deficient rainfall lead to higher prices?
Normal rains act as a strong check on food inflation by increasing food output and availibility. A drought instantly puts pressure on prices. Food inflation, if unchecked, can push up core inflation, such as prices of manufactured goods.