While we patiently await Wall Street's weathermen, formerly known as economists, to blame the next swoon in US GDP on California's relentless drought, now in its fourth year, we wonder how many double seasonally-adjusted, pro-forma, non-GAAP GDP points India's blistering heatwave will bring. Because if California thinks it has it bad, India has it far worse.
According to the National Post, soaring summer temperatures in India have left more than 1,400 people dead over the past month, officials said Thursday. Most of the 1,412 heat-related deaths so far have occurred in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Telangana, where temperatures have soared up to 47 C, according to government figures.
AccuWeather described India's scorching weather as the most intense heat wave in India in recent years, adding that "a very active typhoon season, combined with drought in much of India, could have a significant impact on lives and property for more than a billion people in Asia during the summer of 2015."
"The rains which have eluded us for the last couple of years have created serious drought conditions,” said state minister K.T. Rama Rao in Telangana, which was carved out of Andhra Pradesh as a separate state just last year.
India's response to the stifling heat? In line with that of the Greek government and stockholders everywhere in the new normal: hope.
“This is unprecedented … so there is a little bit of panic,” he said. “Hopefully the monsoon will be on time. Hopefully we will receive rain very, very soon.”
For the locals it's no laughing matter: "If I don’t work due to the heat, how will my family survive?” said construction worker Mahalakshmi, who earns a daily wage of about $3.10 in Nizamabad, a city about 150 kilometres north of the state capital of Hyderabad.
Other examples of just how bad it is:
Volunteers were passing out pouches of salted buttermilk or raw onions — both thought to be hydrating. People used handkerchiefs and scarves to block searing winds and stifling air from their faces.
Across the country, teenagers flocked to water basins and rivers to cool off. Many adults took refuge atop woven cots in the shade.
DasBoys dive into a water tank on a hot summer day in New Delhi Wednesday
Newspapers devoted full pages to covering the heat wave and its effects, with headlines saying “Homeless bake in tin shelters” and “birds & animals drop dead.”
In cities like New Delhi, crowds of office workers gathered around stalls selling fruit drinks and iced water, while police officers wearing sweat-soaked shirts squinted into the sun while directing road traffic.
ImagesAn Indian man uses a rickshaw to transport ice from an ice factory in Amritsar on Wednesday.
“We are even spraying the reptiles,” Delhi Zoo curator Riyaz Khan said, noting fans were also set up to keep enclosures cooler, while the animals were also receiving glucose in their drinking water.
The good news: cooling monsoon rains are expected to arrive next week in the southern state of Kerala and gradually advance north in coming weeks.
In the meantime, it is so hot the read is literally melting as shown in the following clip.