The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Monsoon humbles Mammon

July 6: The screen flickered to life and the roller-coaster ride began: 14843, 14826, 14900, 14860… and then 15,007.22.

But most eyes were glued to the sky, not the sensex that scaled the 15000 peak today, and there was only one message: pitter-patter, pitter-patter….

The hubris of economic might made way for a humbling experience as many in Calcutta realised that their life is still more at the mercy of the monsoon than the markets.

The sky remained an angry grey today, sending down occasional reminders of its power to disrupt life at will, but the deep depression that was teasing Calcutta moved farther and crossed over to Jharkhand. This means relief for Calcutta and possible ruin for some places in Jharkhand.

Met officials said the weather in Calcutta and its adjoining areas is expected to improve gradually from tomorrow but they warned of heavy rain in south Bengal districts for the next 48 hours.

“The intensity of the rain will be less over Calcutta and we expect the weather in the city to improve gradually tomorrow. However, we expect heavy to very heavy rain over Bankura, Purulia, the two Midnapores and Birbhum,” said G.C. Debnath, the weather section director at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.

Heavy rain has been forecast in north Bengal, too.

If the forecast is proved right, Calcutta can hope to emerge soon from a wet blanket that has been stifling it for the better part of this week.

But the forced sabbatical will also leave behind a sobering thought of vulnerability that sometimes gets drowned in the feel-good wave that accompanies every crossing of a milestone by the sensex.

“Sensex at 15000 is great news but rain is more real now. I was worried if there will be a deluge. It is abnormal but what can we do but be patient'” asked Sumanta Banerjee, the managing director of CESC.

Sanjay Budhia, the former chairman of CII, felt that sensex and showers do not mix but added that he was concerned about the rain.

“It feels great to see the sensex at 15000 as it is a testimony to India’s economic growth. But I am concerned about the rain as well in Calcutta. We must do what is required to improve the civic amenities,” Budhia said.

That’s another veneer the downpour has ripped: how ill-kept Calcutta is.

The rain also lifted from the depths a disconnect that bobs up occasionally. If Calcutta was praying for the rain to stop, so was a hamlet in Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga, finance minister P. Chidambaram’s constituency.

For an entirely different reason, though. “Drought is the norm here and our heart fills up when it rains,” said Duraisamy Gounder, a farmer.

But Gounder wants the rain in Bengal to ease up because he fears that it would have some impact on the Northeast monsoon that irrigates his fields.

One more reminder why the monsoon is more dependable than the most powerful in India came today from Pune. A cheque for Rs 10,000 issued under the Prime Minister’s relief fund by a collector to a farmer’s widow has bounced.

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