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Drought affected area in Karnataka, India, 2012

Drought in India has resulted in tens of millions of deaths over the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on the country's climate: a favorable southwest summer monsoon is critical to securing water for irrigating India's crops. In parts of India, failure of the monsoons causes water shortages, resulting in below-average crop yields.[1] This is particularly true of major drought-prone regions such as southern and eastern Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Telangana, and Rajasthan.


In the past, droughts have periodically led to major Indian famines, including the Bengal famine of 1770, in which up to one third of the population in affected areas died; the 1876–1877 famine, in which over five million people died; and the 1899 famine, in which over 4.5 million died.[2][3] 1972 Maharashtra drought affected 2.5 crore people.In simple words, drought has destroyed India on a large scale.

Impact of El NiñoEdit

All such episodes of severe drought correlate with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events.[4][5] El Niño-related droughts have also been implicated in periodic declines in Indian agricultural output.[6] Nevertheless, ENSO events that have coincided with abnormally high sea surfaces temperatures in the Indian Ocean—in one instance during 1997 and 1998 by up to 3 °C (5 °F)—have resulted in increased oceanic evaporation, resulting in unusually wet weather across India. Such anomalies have occurred during a sustained warm spell that began in the 1990s.[7] A contrasting phenomenon is that, instead of the usual high pressure air mass over the southern Indian Ocean, an ENSO-related oceanic low pressure convergence center forms; it then continually pulls dry air from Central Asia, desiccating India during what should have been the humid summer monsoon season. This reversed air flow causes India's droughts.[8] The extent that an ENSO event raises sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean influences the degree of drought.[4] Around 43 per cent of El Niño events are followed by drought in India.[9]

See alsoEdit


  • Allaby, M (1998), Floods, Facts on File, ISBN 0-8160-3520-2.
  • Allaby, M (2002), Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, Facts on File, ISBN 0-8160-4071-0.
  • Balfour, E (1976), Encyclopaedia Asiatica: Comprising Indian Subcontinent, Eastern and Southern Asia, Cosmo Publications, ISBN 81-7020-325-2.
  • Burroughs, WJ (1999), The Climate Revealed, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-77081-5.
  • Caviedes, C (2001), El Niño in History: Storming Through the Ages, University Press of Florida, ISBN 0-8130-2099-9.
  • Chouhan, TS (1992), Desertification in the World and Its Control, Scientific Publishers, ISBN 81-7233-043-X.
  • Collier, W; Webb, R (2002), Floods, Droughts and Climate Change, University of Arizona Press, ISBN 0-8165-2250-2.
  • Heitzman, J; Worden, RL (1996), India: A Country Study, Library of Congress (Area Handbook Series), ISBN 0-8444-0833-6.
  • Nash, JM (2002), El Niño: Unlocking the Secrets of the Master Weather Maker, Warner, ISBN 0-446-52481-6.
  • Posey, CA (1994), The Living Earth Book of Wind and Weather, Reader's Digest Association, ISBN 0-89577-625-1.
  • Singh, VP; Ojha, CSP; Sharma, N (2004), The Brahmaputra Basin Water Resources, Springer, ISBN 1-4020-1737-5.


  1. ^ Swain, S; et al. "Application of SPI, EDI and PNPI using MSWEP precipitation data over Marathwada, India". IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS. 2017: 5505–5507. doi:10.1109/IGARSS.2017.8128250. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  2. ^ Nash 2002, pp. 22–23.
  3. ^ Collier & Webb 2002, p. 67.
  4. ^ a b Kumar KK; Rajagopalan B; Hoerling M.; Bates G; Cane M (2006), "Unraveling the Mystery of Indian Monsoon Failure During El Niño", Science, 314 (5796): 115–119, Bibcode:2006Sci...314..115K, doi:10.1126/science.1131152, PMID 16959975.
  5. ^ Caviedes 2001, p. 121
  6. ^ Caviedes 2001, p. 259.
  7. ^ Nash 2002, pp. 258–259.
  8. ^ Caviedes 2001, p. 117.
  9. ^ "Preparing for a poor monsoon". The Hindu. 26 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.

Further readingEdit

  • Christopher de Bellaigue, "The River" (the Ganges; review of Sunil Amrith, Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia's History; Sudipta Sen, Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River; and Victor Mallet, River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India's Future), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 15 (10 October 2019), pp.34–36. "[I]n 1951 the average Indian [inhabitant of India] had access annually to 5,200 cubic meters of water. The figure today is 1,400... and will probably fall below 1,000 cubic meters – the UN's definition of 'water scarcity' – at some point in the next few decades. Compounding the problem of lower summer rainfall... India's water table is in freefall [due] to an increase in the number of tube wells... Other contributors to India's seasonal dearth of water are canal leaks [and] the continued sowing of thirsty crops..." (p. 35.)

External linksEdit