Archive for the ‘India’ Category

A “good” monsoon and approach of La Niña augur well for extended Indian growth period

August 10, 2016

Half of the Indian monsoon season is over and “so far so good”. There is a good probability that 2016 is going to have a “good” monsoon.  A uniform rainfall over the entire country and an excess rainfall of over 5% from the long term average and less than 15% in excess of the LTA is most desirable. (More than 15% excess will almost certainly give some very serious flooding, while less than 5% excess would probably leave some parts of the country dangerously dry). The El Niño is clearly over and weak La Niña conditions are developing. If La Niña conditions continue to develop, and are established before the end of the year, then there is a good probability that India will even have a good monsson during 2017.

The harbingers for an extended period of good growth in India look promising.

There is an increasing possibility of a hard winter ahead in Europe. In Sweden, autumn seems to have come early and it could be a long, cold winter.


  1. Rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2016 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is most likely to be ABOVE NORMAL (>104% to 110% of long period average (LPA)).
  2. Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 106% of the long period average with a model error of ±4%.
  3. Region wise, the season rainfall is likely to be 108% of LPA over North-West India, 113% of LPA over Central India, 113% of LPA over South Peninsula and 94% of LPA over North-East India all with a model error of ± 8 %.
  4. The monthly rainfall over the country as whole is likely to be 107% of its LPA during July and 104% of LPA during August both with a model error of ± 9 %.
Monsoon cumulative rainfall till 9th august 2016

Monsoon cumulative rainfall till 9th august 2016

The El Niño conditions over the equatorial Pacific prevailing since April, 2015 reached to strong level in July, peaked in December 2015 and started declining thereafter. The rapidly declining El Nino conditions became moderate in early April 2016, weak in early May and now have turned to neutral ENSO conditions. Recent changes in the atmospheric conditions over the Pacific also reflect the weakening El Niño conditions. Latest forecast from IMD-IITM coupled model indicate ENSO neutral conditions are likely to continue and turn to weak La Nina conditions in the latter part of the monsoon season. There is about 50% probability of La Nina conditions to establish during the monsoon season. Most of the other models also suggest development of La Niña conditions during the latter part of the monsoon season. 

Over Indian Ocean, the sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal over most parts except along the coast off central and south Africa. Currently neutral Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are prevailing. The latest forecast from IMD-IITM coupled model indicates positive IOD conditions are most likely during early part of the monsoon season and same to turn to negative IOD during the latter part of the monsoon season.

image nirapadnews

image nirapadnews


Good monsoon (so far) points to Indian GDP growth of over 8%

July 28, 2016

The monsoon season is half over and the rains are at the long-term average which is considered “good”. The difference between a “good” and a “poor” monsoon is generally thought to be over 2 percentage points for GDP.  The Indian ratings agency CRISIL is sufficiently encouraged already to begin talking about a GDP growth of over 8% for the Fiscal Year ending March 2017.

moneycontrol:A good monsoon with even rainfall distribution across regions will give a boost to farm sector and may push India’s GDP growth beyond the 8 percent mark in the current fiscal, Crisil said. However, stress in rainfall in certain parts of the country and excess downpour in some other regions may be a cause for worry, the credit rating agency said in a report. In a positive scenario — good monsoon backed by favourable temporal and spatial distribution — agriculture growth can surge to 6 percent from a weak base of last year and therefore push up GDP growth above 8 percent, it said. According to the report, assuming rainfall is evenly distributed across time and regions, GDP growth may rise to 7.9 percent, if agricultural growth comes at 4 percent and CPI inflation remains contained at 5 percent in the current fiscal. …..

Despite a slow start in June, rains have caught up and were just 1 percent below normal as of July 25. This has helped reservoirs to bounce back from the lows seen in the beginning of the fiscal, boosting farmers’ confidence, the report said. Excess rainfall in 89 districts across eight states could impact sowing and therefore agricultural output for the kharif season. Hence, spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall in the second half of the season, especially in August, will be crucial, it added. 

Today’s picture from Skymet shows the monsoon covering the entire country reasonably evenly.


July 28, 2016 11:46 AM – Skymet


Indian monsoon moves to excess rainfall

July 14, 2016

This year the onset of the monsoon was about a week late but the geographical coverage has spread across the entire country about 2 days ahead of the long term “normal”.

At the end of June, cumulative rainfall was running about 15% short of the long term “normal”, but has now just moved into excess (+4%).

The probability (and hope) of a “good” monsoon in 2016 (about +10-15% cumulative rainfall) is quite high. Which will no doubt cheer the government and the markets.

Figures below are from IMD for 13th July 2016.

Geographical spread of 2016 Monsoon (IMD)

Geographical spread of 2016 Monsoon (IMD)

Cumulative rainfall till 13th July 2016 (IMD)

Cumulative rainfall till 13th July 2016 (IMD)


Monsoon has reached Kerala coast (probably)

May 29, 2016

It is almost certain that the onset of the 2016 monsoon can be declared today (29th May). Based on rainfall alone, the criteria for “onset” are fulfilled. However the formal Monsoon Onset over Kerala (MOK) is still a subjective call. Attempts are ongoing to establish objective criteria.

The date of the MOK is declared by IMD every year based on subjective estimates prepared by operational forecasters. …….

 ‘‘Although the onset of monsoon is associated with changes in the atmospheric circulation features in the lower and upper troposphere, a sustained increase in the rainfall at the observatory stations of Kerala and the island stations over the south-east Arabian sea is an essential feature of the monsoon onset. It is difficult to quantify these precisely and so the experience of the forecaster plays a key role in declaring the date of monsoon onset in individual years.’’

The IMD forecaster, while declaring the date of the MOK, has been taking into consideration subjectively the following features

  1. the rainfall should be widespread over Kerala and adjacent areas, with large rainfall amounts at individual stations;
  2. this rainfall persists over several days;
  3. the lower-tropospheric westerlies in and around Kerala should be strong and deep; and
  4. the air should be rich in moisture (high relative humidity) up to at least 500 hPa. However, there is no widely accepted objective definition of the MOK.

There also have been attempts to derive objective methods for the MOK. …..

Skymet describes the criteria as:

at least 60% of the 14 weather stations across Kerala and coastal Karnataka should record 2.5 mm rainfall or more for two consecutive days.  ….. Simultaneously, the depth of the westerly winds should be up to 600 hPa (or 12000 ft high),  from the equator to 10°N Latitude, and between Longitude 55°E and 80°E. The zonal wind speed over the area bounded by Latitude 5-10°N and Longitude 70-80°E should be around 25 to 35 kmph in the lower levels. The OLR value should also be less than 200 Wm-2 in the box confined by Latitude 5-10°N and Longitude 70-75°E.

The rainfall criteria have been met today. Skymet writes:

…… we watch out for more than 2.5 mm of rainfall for consecutive two days in at least 60% of the stipulated 14 weather stations across Kerala, coastal Karnataka and Lakshadweep. These stations are Minicoy, Aminidivi, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur, Punalur, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Thalassery, Kasargode and Mangalore. 

As of now, more than 60% of the available 14 stations have already received more than 2.5 mm of rain for the last 2 days. As for the masses, Monsoon-like rainfall activity has already commenced in the region. The following rainfall figures (in millimeters) recorded over the last 3 days suffice for the above statement. 

Monsoon onset 2016 rainfall (graphic Skymet)

Monsoon onset 2016 rainfall (graphic Skymet)

So far, so good.

It seems highly probable that the formal declaration of the onset of the monsoon over Kerala (MOK) will be declared for today or tomorrow. The signs are encouraging that 2016 monsoon rainfall will be classified as “good” (upto 10% above the long-term average) and may even be declared to be in “excess” (>10% above long term average).


An Indian spelling gene which is triggered by geography?

May 27, 2016

Indian Americans now totally dominate the US Spelling Bee competition. It was the third straight year of joint winners at the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Corning, New York, were declared co-champions at the National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

May 26, 2016; National Harbor, MD, USA; Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y. (L), and Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas (R), celebrate as co-champions during the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Image : Reuters

Seventeen out of the last twenty one winners (from 1999 to 2016), including all champions for the most recent nine years (from 2008-2016, including 2014, 2015, and 2016’s pairs of co-champions, for a total of twelve champions during this interval), have been Indian Americans, reflecting the recent dominance of students of this community in this competition. Indian Americans make up less than one percent of the U.S. population. In 2016, Nihar Janga from Austin, Texas, became the youngest ever champion when he won the title at the age of 11.

The 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee featured co-champions for the sixth time in the competition’s history, the previous occurrences having been in 1950, 1957, 1962, 2014, and 2015. (Wikipedia)

It must be genetic. But for some reason the spelling gene does not express itself in India. Obviously some epigenetic factor is in play.

My hypothesis is that all Indians have the spelling gene but it is only expressed when triggered by a geographical factor to be found only in the US.


Why are Indian-Americans sweeping the US spelling bee?


Indian monsoon should be on time as El Niño dissipates

May 18, 2016

The Indian monsoon is influenced by anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region.

nino regions

nino regions

“El Niño (La Niña) is a phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean characterized by a five consecutive 3-month running mean of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region that is above (below) the threshold of +0.5°C (-0.5°C).”

In the last 2 weeks the Niño 3.4 region has seen the SST anomaly drop from 1.1°C on April 25 to 0.6°C now. So it does look like that the current El Niño is dissipating and will very soon reach neutral conditions. That comes just in time for this year’s Indian monsoon (official season from 1st June to 30th September).

Both the government Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and the private Skymet forecast an above average monsoon (about 10% above “normal”). However the IMD forecasts that the onset of the monsoon over the south-west coast will be delayed by about a week (June 6th -8th) but Skymet suggests that it will be on time and maybe even a day or two early (28th -30th May).

The Skymet prediction seems a little more credible to me. Right now a depression in the Bay of Bengal is bringing very heavy rain to the south-east tip of the peninsula and augurs well for the establishment of the monsoon. The formal “onset of the monsoon” is itself a complex matter. Technically the onset is declared when:

at least 60% of the 14 weather stations across Kerala and coastal Karnataka should record 2.5 mm rainfall or more for two consecutive days.  ….. Simultaneously, the depth of the westerly winds should be up to 600 hPa (or 12000 ft high),  from the equator to 10°N Latitude, and between Longitude 55°E and 80°E. The zonal wind speed over the area bounded by Latitude 5-10°N and Longitude 70-80°E should be around 25 to 35 kmph in the lower levels. The OLR value should also be less than 200 Wm-2 in the box confined by Latitude 5-10°N and Longitude 70-75°E.

While Skymet predicts monsoon conditions being established by end-May, IMD sees that about a week later. Possibly IMD have a smaller initial peak than Skymet.

Skymet’s Jatin Singh writes:

Skymet Weather believes that Monsoon will lash Kerala by the predicted dates between May 28 and 30. …..

…. There are high chances that the onset of Southwest Monsoon in mainland of India will coincide with El Niño reaching the threshold neutral stage. The in-built complex characteristics of Southwest Monsoon are also influenced by external oceanic-atmospheric phenomena like Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). IOD will remain neutral for now and MJO will also traverse through the favorable zones of eastern Indian Ocean. Therefore, I think that the onset of Monsoon will not be hampered by El Niño, IOD or MJO.

monsoon onset 2016 prediction - graphic Skymet

monsoon onset 2016 prediction – graphic Skymet

Farmers, the government and industry are all looking for a good monsoon to kick-start the Indian economy into a steady period of growth. A “good monsoon” adds – directly and indirectly – about 2 percentage points to GDP. In the present climate where, in spite of the boost from lower oil prices, the Indian economy is dithering about taking off, a “monsoon factor” could be what is needed to secure the upward trajectory.


The Raj reversed

March 29, 2016

A UK delegation to India to secure jobs in Wales.

Does not need much further comment.

cyrus mistry (chairman) and ratan tata (former chairman) tata sons image - bisinesstoday

cyrus mistry (chairman) and ratan tata (former chairman) tata sons (image –


UK union leaders have held talks in India ahead of a Tata Steel board meeting that could decide the fate of thousands of workers. Officials from the Community union had “constructive” talks with Tata Steel representatives in Mumbai, where the board is meeting on Tuesday.

The future of thousands of UK steelworkers is at stake. The Port Talbot plant in south Wales suffered most of the 1,000 job losses announced in January. Unless Tata goes ahead with a turnaround plan, the future of the huge plant could be in doubt.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, along with Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, and Frits van Wieringen, chairman of the Tata Steel European works council, met in Mumbai with senior representatives of Tata Steel ahead of Tuesday’s board meeting.

A Community spokesman said the meeting was “open and constructive”, with the European delegates making the case for Tata to continue to support the UK business.

The myth in the UK that India gained more from British rule than the economic benefits squeezed out of India is addressed very well by Shashi Tharoor in his speech at the Oxford Union.

Dr Shashi Tharoor MP – Britain Does Owe Reparations


India stocking up on Foreign Exchange Reserves

March 21, 2016

India’s Forex reserves were $353 billion this week and it seems that the Reserve Bank is stocking up whenever the opportunity arises.

The question of course is whether it is just the RBI being prudent or whether they see clouds on the horizon. Certainly the drop in oil prices has helped. But the RBI is still very apprehensive that they could quickly go up again.

Right now the forex reserves are sufficient for almost 10 months of imports but the RBI is still not quite bold enough to reduce interest rates further. India has every reason to fear high inflation, but the RBI being a little more expansive is probably called for.

India forex 2016 march

India Forex 1998 – 2016 Source: RBI

Business LineBetween the end of February and March 11, $6.5 billion were added to the country’s forex reserves. This has been the trend over the last 12 months; the Reserve Bank of India has been adding to the reserves at every opportunity. …. India’s foreign exchange reserves are close to record highs even as reserves of other emerging economies have declined over the last 12 months.

….  India’s foreign currency reserves (excluding gold) rose close to 6 per cent in the last 12 months. …. China has recorded the sharpest fall (15.7 per cent), while other countries such as Malaysia (13.49 per cent), Indonesia (11 per cent) and Singapore (3.15 per cent) also witnessed depletion of reserves.

The accretion to reserves in the recent past has taken place under tough conditions. The rupee lost more than 6 per cent in 2015-16, and foreign portfolio flows turned negative in this period with an outflow of $15.3 billion. Foreign direct investments have been the saving grace this fiscal year, with a robust 26 per cent increase in the 11 months of FY 16.

The RBI has, however, net purchased $9 billion through forex market interventions between April 2015 and January 2016. While this is just a third of the dollar purchases in the corresponding period of FY 15, it shows the central bank does not want to let go of any opportunity to bolster reserves.

Oil price drop fuelling a surge in Indian car sales

March 18, 2016

It has taken a while coming, but the drop in oil price since mid-2014 is finally making its way into the Indian economy. Fuel consumption is growing at 10%. India has now passed Japan and is now the third largest oil consumer. Soon India will pass even China for energy consumption growth. Refineries which were intended for the export of oil have shifted to production for domestic consumption. Car sales which grew by 6% in the last year are now expected to be 12% in the next fiscal year (April – March).

Hindustan Times:

Underpinned by annual economic growth of 7-8 per cent, India’s fuel demand is seen as a key oil price support over 2016-2017, eating into a supply overhang that has pulled down global crude as much as 70 percent since mid-2014.

India has already pipped Japan as the world’s third-largest oil consumer. By 2040, India will have more than doubled its current oil use to 10 million barrels per day (bpd), according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about on par with China’s consumption last year.

This roar of motor – as well as power and household – fuel use means some refineries initially planned for exports, such as the 300,000 bpd Paradip refinery on India’s east coast, have been flipped to serve domestic oil demand. …… Reflecting India’s rising importance as a buyer, Igor Sechin, chief executive of the world’s biggest listed oil company Rosneft, was in New Delhi this week to sign several deals with Indian companies such as IOC, Oil India Ltd and Bharat PetroResources Ltd.

…. Over April-February – the first 11 months of India’s current fiscal year – fuel demand rose 10 per cent to about 170 million tonnes (4 million bpd), according to a report this week by the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC).

For the next fiscal year through March 2017, the PPAC has forecast fuel demand growth at 7.3 per cent. …. India plans to spend Rs 97,000 crore ($14 billion) in 2016-2017 on expanding and improving the country’s road network, which at 4.7 million km is already vying with China as the world’s second-longest after the United States, although highways make up less than 2 per cent of that figure.

A 23.55 per cent increase in the salaries, allowances and pensions of millions of government employees later this year is also expected to shore up consumer spending, boosting purchases of cars and motorcycles. Sales of passenger cars and utility vehicles in India are expected to grow by as much as 12 per cent in the next fiscal year, up from an estimated 6 percent this year. That translates to around 230,000 new passenger vehicles hitting the roads each month.

The main impact has been on gasoline demand, which the PPAC expects to grow to 24.2 million tonnes (560,000 bpd) by next year, up more than 12 per cent from 21.5 million tonnes estimated for this fiscal year. “Gasoline demand has been growing in double digits and we expect this to continue as it depends on sales of two-wheelers and cars,” said Indian Oil Corp’s Singh.

Other fuels are seeing growth as well, and for similar reasons. To meet rising demand, state refiners are planning a 1.2 million bpd plant on the country’s west coast, adding to current overall capacity of 4.6 million bpd, although a fixed timeline has not been set.

I expect India and China to be key contributors to the recovery of the global economy and

Historically – though it is a relatively crude generalisation – low oil price has usually given – or coincided with – consumer-led growth and stability.

crude oil price history 1970-2014

crude oil price history 1970-2014


The Paris Agreement sanctions a dash for coal

February 25, 2016

Now that the Paris Climate Agreement is out of the way (having actually achieved nothing while seeming to have solved everything), sensible countries that wish to implement their plans to utilise coal can do so without being castigated for it (since Paris has now solved everything). The non-sensible and sanctimonious countries – and Sweden leads all the rest – can refrain from using coal and other fossil fuels to their own self-inflicted disadvantage.

The real winners from the Paris Agreement are, of course, India and China. By using carbon emissions per unit of GDP as the measure, India has ensured that it can treble its coal consumption by 2030 (while GDP increases by a factor of 4) and still show a 30% decrease in emissions/GDP. Similarly China can double its coal consumption by 2030 while GDP increases by a factor of 2.65 and still show a 20% reduction in carbon emissions (based on my calculation from the Indian and Chinese INDC submissions for the Paris conference).

The 2012 global coal consumption (IEA report) was about 8.186 billion short tons of which China consumed 3.887 billion short tons and India consumed 0.745 billion short tons. By 2030, India alone would consume 2.235 billion short tons and still meet their Paris obligations. Similarly China would consume about 7.774 billion short tons and still meet their Paris promises. Effectively the Paris Climate Agreement sanctions that coal consumption in India and China alone will be about 10 billion short tons and exceed today’s global consumption. The global coal consumption in 2030 will then be above 14 billion short tons which is about 70% higher than the 2012 global consumption.

And now Reuters informs us that

A decision by Japan’s environment ministry to abandon its opposition to building new coal-fired power stations casts doubt on the industry’s ability to meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, experts and environmental activists said …..

As Japan gets ready to open up its power retail market in April, companies are rushing to build 43 coal-fired plants or 20.5 gigawatt of capacity in coming years, about a 50 percent increase. ……. Coal is attractive because it is the cheapest fossil fuel source and prices have slumped in recent years. Japan has turned to the energy source in record amounts since the Fukushima disaster in 2011 led to the shutdown of reactors.

A group of 36 power companies, which supply 99 percent of the country’s electricity, have also formed a new body to take measures to trim emissions and meet the industry’s voluntary goal to cut emissions by 35 percent in 2030, compared with 2013.

The Paris Agreement has ensured that all those who wish to use coal can continue to do so.


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