Friday, July 14, 2006

Monsoon in India

The southwest monsoons supply over 80% of India's annual rainfall. There are two branches to the monsoon, the Bay of Bengal branch, and the Arabian Sea branch, extending to the low pressure area over the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. The Arabian Sea branch is roughly three times stronger than the Bay of Bengal branch.

The monsoon makes its presence felt by the end of May. It starts around the 29 May, hitting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It strikes the mainland in Kerala by 1 June. By 9 June, it reaches Mumbai, and Delhi by 29 June. The Bay of Bengal monsoon moves in a northwest direction whereas the Arabian Sea monsoon moves northeast. By the first week of July, the entire country experiences rain. But usually southern India receives more rainfall than northern India.

The monsoon accounts for 80 percent of the rainfall in the country. Indian agriculture (which accounts for 25 percent of the GDP and employs 70 percent of the population) is heavily dependent on the rains, especially crops like cotton, rice, oilseeds and coarse grains. A delay of a few days in the arrival of the monsoon can, and does, badly affect the economy, as evidenced in the numerous droughts in India in the 90s.

The picture above is artist George Oommen's , "Kerala Altered Reflections" (2002, acrylic on canvas) where the monsoon weaves both sky and land into a luminous wash that drizzles tropical yellows, blues and greens into murky, many-layered water.

Click here to look at George Oommen's monsoon magic.

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