ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Monsoon Rainfall Variability in India

Impact on Regional Economies

The authors are extremely thankful to an anonymous referee for giving very useful comments. An earlier version of the paper was presented in a conference on “Political Economy of Climate Change” organised by the Association of Asia Scholars in November 2021 and the authors’ thanks are due to the participants for their valuable comments. The usual disclaimers apply.

Investigating the effects of monsoon variability on the agricultural output at the regional level for five broad agroclimatic regions from 198081 to 201617, the analysis validates our postulation that the impact of rainfall deviation on regional economic output is highly varied and hence an aggregate analysis will not be reflective. Similar to earlier studies, we found asymmetry in response to deficit versus excess of summer monsoon rains. This asymmetry is primarily governed by whether the region is rain-fed or irrigated, and the policy option to mitigate the effect can be picked accordingly.

The subsistence of many countries in Asia, including India, and sub-Saharan Africa is intricately tied to the pulse of their monsoonal climate. The literature has argued that a potential determinant of Africas poor performance in the late 1970s, and thereafter, is the declining trend of rainfall as experienced since the 1960s (Barrios et al 2010; Collier and Gunning 1999). Similarly, the variability in Indias agricultural output, farmers income, and price stability is largely driven by the year-to-year fluctuations in the strength of the south-west or summer (JuneSeptember) monsoon rains (SMRs), which account for over 75% of natural precipitation in India (RBI 2015; Chand and Raju 2009). These SMRs account for the historical binding of Indian economic and social fabric to the climate.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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