Saturday, August 9, 2014

Monsoon mood mellowing in Mumbai

....Amarinder Singh said, "We are facing failure of monsoon. I wonder if it's god's will....I  wonder if it's El Nino or El Modi effect.......There has been some sin. God does not like that. We all remember what happened in Gujarat in 2002" .....
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A bit of music, philosophy and policy riddles to take a bit of your time away from all the cheers and gaiety spread across India and the diaspora today.

A monsoon (bollywood) tune pictured on the iconic Marine Drive in Mumbai (movie: Manzil, song: Rim Jhim Ghire Sawan, Year: 1979, music: RD Burman, voice: Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, lyrics: Yogesh, actors: Amitabh Bachhan, Mousumi Chatterjee).
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For people who prefer the instrumental version, here is a nice one by Mubasher Hasan Syed
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Incidentally Yogesh was a brilliant lyricist (see Wiki profile below) and composed for some of our best loved songs (Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye and Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli from Anand, also the songs of Rajnigandha and Baton Baton Mein). 
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Rains in Mumbai is also the best time to pursue (non-academic grade) philosophy. We pause to contemplate on the twin concepts of instant karma (revenge pulao served hot) and instant moksha (sweet kheer for absolution).

It was in June of this year that the newly elected MP from Amritsar, Captain (Sardar) Amarinder Singh Sahib [son of late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh and Maharani Mohinder Kaur of Patiala] declared that the penalty for electing sinners will be a failed monsoon. Voting the wrong way will cost millions of farmers their livelihood and in many cases their lives.

In order to avert the worst drought in a decade there came a deluge of rain-invoking pujas in Varanasi (Sankat Mochan deity - one who removes all stress and grief - Shiva), Kathmandu (Pashu-Pati-Nath deity - one who takes care of all living beings - Shiva) and elsewhere. The rain-Gods were apparently mollified and Mumbai recorded one of the wettest July-s ever, in the past 50 years.
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According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) rainfall figures since 1959, Santacruz received 1547.5 mm rainfall in the month of July, breaking the previous highest total rainfall measured in the month of July, at 1455.5 mm (Santacruz, 1965). Similarly, Colaba this year, recorded a total July rainfall of 1401.7 mm, the second highest total rainfall in July (1441.3 mm in 1974).
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Now that the monsoon has recovered in large measure does it follow that the stains from 2002 have been washed away by the rains in 2014....no, we do not think so.  We respectfully suggest that Sardarji should re-think his claims of divine retribution and focus like a laser on getting justice for the victims of 2002, 1984,....there are too many of them to count.

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It is the (strange but true) case that peninsular India depends significantly on hydro-electric power. If rainfall is lacking there will be a four-way competition for water (residential, industrial, agricultural and for power generation). Things are now thankfully better, however drought persists in Telengana and Andhra Pradesh (is this due to the sin incurred by Partition?). But here is hoping that rain gods keep smiling and the bounty of water is available to all.....for the sinners and for the pure.
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That brings us to the main question at hand. Even after so many decades following independence, India is sunk without a good monsoon. Why is this? Because of corruption on a gigantic scale, agriculture and religion are probably the two areas where the money is maximum (and so is the corruption).

Dialing down the dependence on monsoon may be difficult but is a must for a nation that demands a high seat at the United Nations (another incomprehensible problem: India grows sufficient food but loses 30% due to inadequate storage).
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The sudden sharp increase in Southwest Monsoon rainfall for the week ending August 6th 2014 has come as a blessing for the farmers who have been reeling under the threat of a looming drought. The Indian Meteorological Department data released on Friday evening shows that the rainfall for the week ending August 6, 2014 was a substantial 19% higher than the normal rains during the period. 

This is a substantial gain as the rainfall for the previous week ending 30th July, 2014 was 9% lower than the normal for the period.
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Consequently the overall shortage in cumulative rainfall for the country as a whole since the start of the south west monsoon has dipped from 23% on July 30, 2014 to a more manageable 18% by August 4, 2014. Overall it is certainly safe to say that though the rainfall in the current South West Monsoon is still short of the levels received in 2013 it is still better than the rains in 2012.
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However the gains from the revival of the monsoon are mixed as the trends vary substantially across the states. Though the overall trends have turned positive with the number of meteorological subdivisions that have registered a cumulative excess or normal rainfall in the current monsoons suddenly shooting up from 15 to 20 over the last one week and the number of subdivisions with deficient or scantly rainfall has slumped from 21 to 16.
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Though rains have been in excess in only one sub division, namely Orissa where the total rainfall since June 1st has been 25% of the normal, a lot of other regions have also gained substantially. Important sub divisions which has now received normal rainfall in the current season and which can contribute substantially to agriculture output include East and West Madhya Pradesh, East and West Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Sub Himalayan West Bengal and Gangetic West Bengal.
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The top agriculture regions where rainfall continues to be in deficit include Punjab (-59%), Haryana (-54), Himachal Pradesh (-36%), Western UP (-43%), Eastern UP (-43%) and Bihar (-28%). While the extensive irrigation facilities in Punjab, Haryana and Western UP may help make up for some deficiency in rainfall it will still continue to impact agriculture output.
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The prospects of agriculture in peninsular India are more mixed. While Madhya Maharashtra and Vidharbha have had normal rainfall the scenario in Marathwada is precarious with the rainfall being 57% below normal. This would also have implication for the state elections later in the year. The scenario is similar in Karnataka with the Coastal and South Interior Karnataka receiving normal rainfall while North Interior Karnataka registered a deficit of 24%.
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The worst affected in the region was Andhra Pradesh and Telengana where all the three sub divisions registered deficit rainfall ranging from 27% to 48%. However, both Tamil Nadu and Kerala continued to have normal rainfall.
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The improvement in rainfall bodes well as the water levels in the important reservoirs have also risen. Most recent estimates show that the current storage levels in the reservoirs is about 82% of the last year level and 116% of the average storage levels during the last decade. 

This is certainly a substantial improvement from the scenario that prevailed in early July and will help limit the anticipated decline in agriculture output during the year. With the IMD having projected a better rainfall in August as compared to July there is certainly reasons for more optimism.
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[ref. Wiki] Yogesh was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
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He moved in search of work, his cousin was a screenplay director. His first work was with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and wrote Kahin Door Jab Din Dal Jaaye. He wrote songs like Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli and Rimjhim gire Saawan, Kai baar yunhi dekha hai from Rajnigandha and Na bole tum na maine kuch kaha from Baaton Baaton Mein.
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Yogesh also worked in television serials as a writer.
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Lyric writer Yogesh Gaur was a man in great demand among the slice-of-life filmmakers like Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The story goes that Mukherjee heard the lyrics of two songs Yogesh had written for producer LB Lachman’s film, and wanted them for Anand.
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Lachmanji was adamant about keeping the songs, but Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Mukherjee pleaded with him. Bachchan, who was a young man then, would say to me, Please get us these two songs somehow. Finally, Lachmanji relented and gave them one of the songs, says Yogesh.
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The song, Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye, shot the lyricist to overnight popularity. Mukherjee was so happy he got Yogesh to pen another song for him, Zindagi kaisi yeh paheli for Anand too. Soon, the fan mail was pouring in.
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Funnily, people also sent me flowers for Maine tere liye, which was written by Gulzar, says the man, popularly known as ‘shaayar’ by actresses of that time. The nickname happened because the heroines, when they reported on the sets, would insist he recite some of his shaayari. “Producers thought the heroines were getting distracted by my poetry, especially when I waxed eloquent about their beauty,” he laughs.
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Known as the ‘sensible film lyricist’, Yogesh worked primarily with Chatterjee and Mukherjee, rather than ‘masala’ filmmakers. My problem was similar to that faced by the filmmakers themselves. My work was appreciated, but was restricted to ‘art’ films. But they were more real than arty, he says.
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Working with Basu Chatterjee was not the easiest, says Yogesh.  

Basuda was a master of his craft, but brainstorming sessions with him weren’t all that fun. While discussing a song for Rajnigandha, he would say, in true Bengali style: ‘Uske baad, Vidya wahan se aata hai.’ I had to stop him and ask if he meant heroine Vidya Sinha’s character or hero Amol Palekar’s. He got angry and said he was referring to Vidya. I didn’t bother explaining to him that he had actually mixed up the gender while speaking in Hindi, Yogesh says. 

But the collaboration was a fruitful one. Yogesh wrote some of his best songs for Chatterjee, like Kai baar yunhi dekha hai from Rajnigandha and Na bole tum na maine kuch kaha from Baaton Baaton Mein.
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Link (1): http://strong-monsoon-recovery-rains-hopes-on-food-front

Link (2): http://Poor-monsoon-Gods-punishment-for-Gujarat-riots-Amarinder-Singh

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regards