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Etcetera

Print Edition: July 22, 2012

Raining uncertainty
Monsoon worries are back with rains in June having been 24 per cent below normal. On the southwest monsoon:

What it is: It is brought by winds blowing in from a south westerly direction over the Indian Ocean between June and September. It usually starts by hitting Kerala on June 1 and covers most of the country by July 15. This year, it reached Kerala four days late.

Why it is crucial: Around 55 to 60 per cent of cultivated land in India is rain fed. Agricultural production - and in turn rural incomes and national consumption - are all heavily dependent on the monsoon.

SPECIAL:Is India still a monsoon economy?

This year's prospects: In its latest prediction, the Indian Meteorological Department has claimed this year's monsoon will be close to normal, 96 per cent of the long term average. In April, however, it had said rains would be 99 per cent of the average. The lowered forecast is worrying, since rains below 90 per cent lead to drought.

El Nino: Some experts have claimed there will be El Nino weather conditions in August-September. El Nino refers to an unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean surface, which results in scanty rains. In 2009, the last time El Nino struck, India's monsoon was the worst in decades.

Cream of the Crop
The Japanese firm Shiseido will set a new record in September when it launches the most expensive skincare cream ever. Called 'La Creme', it will cost 1,050,000 yen (Rs 8.27 lakh) for a 50-gram jar (Rs 16,500 a gram) - more than the price of gold. Clearly there are people who prize the glow of their skin more than that of gold.

No Laughing Matter
The benefits of laughter are lost on Vinayak Shirsat, a resident of Kurla, Mumbai. He recently complained to the Bombay High Court against a 'yoga laughter club' which assembled every morning outside his window. A sympathetic judge agreed, and ordered the police to clamp down on "this unnecessary headache, people coming and laughing outside your house".

Light & Shade
The power shortage is taking a toll on the Dalit memorials built by erstwhile Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati. Her bitter rival Akhilesh Yadav, now Chief Minister, may have promised not to demolish the statues there, but never said anything about keeping them lit up all night. To save power, he has ordered that for every light switched on at the memorials after sunset, two must be left switched off.

Compiled by Basudha Das

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