In poll year, In­dia set for nor­mal mon­soon

Fore­cast bodes well for farm out­put, ru­ral econ­omy

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - FRONT PAGE - Zia Haq and Malavika Vyawa­hare

NEW DELHI: In­dia’s June-septem­ber mon­soon, the lifeblood of the world’s third-largest econ­omy, will be nor­mal this year, the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment (IMD) said on Mon­day. The pre­dic­tion will likely boost eco­nomic growth and farm out­put in the run-up to a gen­eral elec­tion next year.

“In­dia will get its third con­sec­u­tive nor­mal mon­soon this year at 97% of the long-pe­riod av­er­age. We see very less prob­a­bil­ity of a de­fi­cient mon­soon be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by the coun­try,” KJ Ramesh, the IMD’S chief said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Met’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion, the mon­soon is con­sid­ered nor­mal if the rains are be­tween 96-104% of the 50-year av­er­age of 89 cm.

Well-dis­trib­uted sum­mer rains, which ac­count for 70% of In­dia’s to­tal an­nual rain­fall, spur ru­ral spend­ing on most items and also in­crease de­mand in other sec­tors of the econ­omy. Ru­ral sales ac­count for about 48% of all mo­tor­cy­cles and 44% of tele­vi­sion sets sold an­nu­ally if the mon­soon is nor­mal, ac­cord­ing to con­sumer sales data from the Citibank Re­search.

The rains are crit­i­cal be­cause nearly half of all In­di­ans de­pend on a farm-based in­come and 60% of the coun­try’s net-sown area does not have any form of ir­ri­ga­tion. Mil­lions of farm­ers wait for the rains to be­gin sum­mer sow­ing of ma­jor crops such as rice, sugar, cot­ton and oilseeds. Half of In­dia’s farm out­put comes from sum­mer crops de­pen­dent on the rains. For good farm out­put, the rains have to be not just nor­mal but also evenly spread across states. The mon­soon also re­plen­ishes 81 na­tion­ally-mon­i­tored wa­ter reser­voirs crit­i­cal for drink­ing, power and ir­ri­ga­tion.

Ahead of a gen­eral elec­tion in 2019, ad­e­quate food out­put will help to keep over­all in­fla­tion low. As oil prices pick pace — they surged to their high­est lev­els since 2014 last week to $66.82 a bar­rel — in­fla­tion con­tin­ues to be the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment’s key eco­nomic con­cern.

Food prices have a 30% weigh­tage in In­dia’s con­sumer price in­dex. “A nor­mal mon­soon has a pos­i­tive im­pact on the over­all econ­omy through in­ter­sec­toral re­la­tions be­tween agri­cul­ture and other sec­tors,” said NR Bhanu­murthy, an econ­o­mist.

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