In India, drought is related to scarcity of rainfall and mismanagement of the water resources. According to the National Commission on Agriculture in India, drought can be categorised into three types, they are: agricultural drought, hydrological drought, and meteorological drought. In the year 2012, the Government of India declared drought.
India is a developing country with many social, economical and political problems, and this announcement for drought will add more to the miseries of the country. Indian economic growth was already taking place at a sluggish rate and the declaration of drought shook the pillars of the economy.
The Indian economy is an agrarian based economy as most of the people depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood. Agriculture, in India, depends on the advent of the monsoon. Showers from nature are an indispensable part of the Indian Agriculture. Deficiency in rainfall will result in lower agricultural production which in turn is harmful for the economy and the gross domestic product (GDP) rate.
Therefore, India is passing through one of the biggest economic crises, drought along with the problems like low growth, high inflation, high fiscal deficit, low industrial growth. It was only after the year 1991 that the Indian economy raised itself and became stable, but the condition of drought will affect the growth and will take it to negative.
A drought prone area is the one that witness prolonged period of low level of rainfall. Rainfall affects many activities the economy and shortage of rainfall will lead to shortage of water supply to these activities. Drought also results in low moisture content in air, the moisture of soil and its quality will also degrade, under water table will also encounter a decrease in the table.
A drought cannot be explained in a definition or two because it varies from place to place with varying characteristics and impacts. In drought, there is no singe indicator which could determine the onset and the severity and its impacts. Drought can also be a natural event or can occur due to the activities of humans.
Naturally, drought occurs when there is low rate of precipitation and when used recklessly by the people, it amounts to drought occurring due to the activities of the humans. The effects of natural drought which results in water scarcity is the worst kind of drought which results in extensive damage to crops, which results in loss of yield.
Drought recurring in India
If we go through the data of the last decade, we would encounter that India has already faced three droughts and has encountered five severe droughts in the past 40 years. In the year 2009, India went through the situation of drought. In 2009, deficiency in rainfall had catastrophic effect to the Indian economy which resulted in the lowering of the food grains output by 16 million tones, which in turn resulted into sky touching prices of food products and therefore, making the headline inflation rate reaching the double digits.
Thus, drought is a recurring phenomenon which affects economies in all the sectors. These are the following reasons of recurrence of drought:
- India experience very high average annual rainfall which is approximately 1,150 mm. This high rate of average annual rainfall is not experienced by any other country in the world.
- the geographic speed of the monsoon is very unevenly spread throughout the country.
- the showers and not enjoyed by all the regions. There is concentration of monsoon at some region while the others are left with no rain. About 73% of the total annual rainfall is received in less than 100 days during the south west monsoon.
- the harvesting techniques used by many of the farmers are based on traditional style of harvesting which have great dependence over monsoon.
- variability in rainfall as compared to Long Period Average (LPA) exceeds 30% in large areas of the country and is over 40 to 50% in parts of drought prone Saurashtra, Kutch, and Rajasthan.
- approximately 33% of the cropped area in the country receives less than 750 mm rain annually making such areas affected by drought.
- the technique of irrigation which uses the ground water, this long term ground water withdrawal exceeds replenishment.
Declaration of Drought
In the year 2012, the Government of India has declared drought. The drought is calculated on the basis of the availability of drinking water, irrigation water, fodder, food grain and energy sector requirements. The government declares drought due to the combination of following reasons:
(A). the deficiency in rainfall is one of the biggest reasons for declaring drought. There is a reasonable standard of rainfall which should occur and any divergence or deduction in this shall compel the government to declare drought. The government declared the drought because the total rainfall received during the month of June and July is less than 50% of the average rainfall for these two months and the total rainfall for the entire duration of the rainy season of the state is less than 75%.
(B). the drought is said to exist if along with the other indicators, the total area sown by the end of July and August is less than 50% of the total cultivable area.
(C). a report named NDVI is issued by the National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Monitoring System (NADAMS) which provides the quantitative information on sowing, surface water spread and District/ Tehsil/ Taluk/ Block level crop condition assessment along with spatial variation in terms for maps.
(D). the government also measure the Moisture Adequacy Index (MAI) which is based on a calculation of weekly water balance and is equal to the ratio of Actual Evapo Transpiration (AET) to the Potential Evaporation Transpiration (PET) following a soil water balancing approach during a cropping season.
Effects on the Economy
The monsoon comes with 75% of the annual rainfall of the country and as of August it has been decreased to 16 per cent. This is very serious for the economy of the country. Being an agrarian country, the income from agriculture has a substantial portion in the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
The profession of agriculture is very largely adopted in India. According to the data available, agriculture accounts for about 14.6 per cent of the country’s GDP and employment in the agricultural sector is around 45.5 per cent of the Rural Population. Apart from this, 40 per cent of the cultivable area in our country is under irrigation.
Therefore, the impact of through will be catastrophic. It will affect the growth of the country, which is already having much to face. The population involved in agriculture is not rich; they are the poor farmers which wait for the rain to fill their belly. The situation of drought will affect the farmers who depend on the rains for the yield; especially with respect to the crop life kharif, such as rice, pulses and oil seeds.
In the north western side, the area has received 38 per cent less than the normal rainfall. The condition in the central regions of India in the centre is a bit better but will still affect the lives of the people. The areas in the centre of the country have received 22 per cent less rainfall. Therefore, the consequences of drought will be suffered by the entire economy.
Going deep down, beginning from the poor farmers, they will suffer a lot. Their livelihood depends on the agriculture. They will be hit hard. The children of these poor farmers will not be able to go to the school because the little savings they have will be used for filling their bellies and sustaining them.
Some of the poor helpless farmers will take loans from informal means that charges a great rate of interest and this will inflict an additional financial burden on the poor farmers. For the middle class families, drought will burn their pockets as well. The prices will go up and the middle class will be unable to up lift their standards.
They will get stuck in at the same place. Their present condition will be their future condition, they will not progress. The government will formulate many compensation and subsidiary schemes which will add burden to the economy. The GDP rate will be affected. The country’s population is increasing rapidly. The condition of drought will adversely affect the production and the attained production will be very less than the required production.
The government of India is taking many initiative steps to decrease the burden of the people. It has cut the cost of irrigation, supply of alternative crops, increased the fodder supply, limit export, lower import tariffs and incentivize the use of irrigation pumps.
A diesel subsidy scheme has been approved to help the poor farmers to save their standing crops. The government also decided to re compensate the farmers for the expenditure already occurred of is proposed to be occur. The government should initiate actions to recharge the ground water table by building check dams and providing pipeline water and other irrigation facilities.
The farmers should be provided with seeds and other inputs for kharif crops. The public distribution mechanism should be strengthened to provide food and fodder as a measure to sustain the rural economy. Moratorium on farm loans should be taken by the public administration.
It is the responsibility of the government to implement the relief schemes effectively and everyone should get the benefit of these relief schemes uniformly. The present condition of drought might improve with a few showers. But being a responsible citizen of this country it is on our part to save water and adopt the techniques of rain water harvesting.