You must have been hearing a lot about El Nino impacting the monsoons lately. Know what it means though?
El Nino means a little boy in Spanish. It’s a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which impacts weather worldwide. El Nino is when there is an unusual warming of surface water in the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean.
This has major climatic effects globally - heatwaves in the Caribbean, droughts in South America, high temperatures in Australia, dry weather in China and even forest fires in Indonesia. For India, this commonly suppresses rainfall.
There is an opposite condition as well, where the surface water unusually cools down, and aids rainfall for India. This is called La Nina, or little girl. The last three years were marked by good rainfall in India, and all three of those were because of successive La Nina conditions.
However, 2023 has started with the beginning of El Nino. The IMD believed that the monsoon would be normal, and despite evolving El Nino conditions. But the monsoon was a whole week late, thanks to cyclone Biparjoy, and maybe El Nino.
Of course, all this matters because of India’s dependence on the monsoon for agricultural output. If the monsoon is good, crop yield is better, food prices stay in control because of healthy supply, farmers get good money on their produce, rural income gets boosted, and everyone is happy.
But the reverse, is just as saddening. And the risk is particularly high when we’re just about successfully taming sticky inflation, which scarred the entire world. Any risk to the normalcy of monsoons can pose a risk to inflation spiking up again, which can disrupt the current status quo on rate hikes.
The RBI monthly bulletin rightly pointed out that while El Nino has an impact, it is a single event. Inflation is dependent on several other factors as well, including supply chain disruptions, and global commodity prices.
So, while much of India rejoices the arrival of the monsoon after the intense heatwave, there is a possibility of a deficient rainfall, thanks to El Nino. Till reality unfolds, status quo on rates would be the most likely scenario!