Summer Invades Spring in India
How many of you love springtime? Most likely, the people of India do too. Unfortunately, this spring has become an early extension of summer. Temperatures well over 100F started in March rather than May and June like they do in a normal year. India has seen unprecedented high temperatures in both March and April. The extended heat wave can have damaging effects on the world’s most populated nation.
There is a great need for a huge wheat harvest to make up for the grains that won’t reach the world market because of the war in Ukraine. India could be a key player, but their harvest is wilting because of the excessive heat. Likewise, their fruits and vegetable crops are suffering, both in the fields and on the street-side markets.
This unprecedented extended heatwave has a cascading effect. A heat-induced demand for electricity has caused power outages that affect two-thirds of Indian households. Lack of electricity means people can’t access the needed water. The heat itself exacerbates air pollution problems, especially as garbage dumps ignite, spewing smoke into the hot air.
The people who suffer the most are the poor and the lower middle class. Members of the lower middle class sell produce and fish in urban street markets. A much higher percentage of their goods are unsellable because of the excessive heat. Ice has become less accessible and more expensive. The poor, who harvest crops and the fishermen, are in the heat of day risking heat stroke and dehydration as they earn a meager living. Normally, the Indian government sets aside some grains and pluses to sell at a lower price so the very poor can afford to eat. This year, farmers can get much more money by selling their crops on the global market instead of selling it to the government. This has already caused wheat prices to soar for India’s poor.
The Economist, How can India cope with heatwaves? May 3, 2022
The Straits Times, India in a quandary over wheat exports as heatwave dampens production forecasts. May 12, 2022
BBC News, Heatwave: India’s poor bear the brunt of blistering temperatures. May 5, 2022