As the summer becomes unbearable in May, there is only one question on everyone's mind. When will the rains come? As you all know rains are the foundation on which the Indian economy is based. Agriculture which employs 52% of the Indian labor force and contributes 16.6% of the country's GDP is almost entirely dependent on rainfall.
During the run up to the monsoons and even during it, people constantly refer to the Indian Meteorological Department or IMD. The IMD is the government body responsible for forecasting weather conditions including the monsoons. IMD's role is significant as it is on its forecast of rainfall that the farmers select which crop to sow and when.
However, the IMD has not been successful in getting its prediction right. Consider this, in the last 23 years, the IMD has been able to successfully predict the monsoon only nine times. This means it has a success rate of just 40%. This is not a good track record considering that there is a 50% probability of someone correctly guessing which side of the coin will come up. As a result of the unreliable predictions, every year we are faced with volatility in the commodity markets along with hoarding.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge that it is a tricky job getting the monsoon forecast right due to the many factors which affect it. But IMD was established 125 years ago. We believe that this is sufficient time for any organization to get its act right.
Officials of the department have acknowledged that they lack the technology which is available to their counterparts in the western world due to financial constraints. If this is true then this is a grave lapse by the government.
For a country which lives and dies not just on the monsoons but also on the intimation of it, the government needs to ensure that the IMD is equipped with the latest technology available.
We believe that the department also needs to improve its methodology and manpower if it intends to remain relevant to the purpose for which it was formed.