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National Issues - God Save Us
W E A T H E R : F O R C A S T I N G

God Save Us
IMD's taking no prisoners. Run!

   It might appear to have come straight from the books of doomsday soothsayers, but even for a state like Rajasthan, which always sought central aid for drought relief, the devastation brought by flash floods due to monsoonal outbursts has been nothing short of a catastrophe. In the din of claims and counter-claims regarding the reasons behind the unusual climatic phenomenon, serious questions remain unanswered about the scgod save asientific credentials of monsoon forecasting in India. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a nodal agency, has been responsible for undertaking observations and forecasting weather! It was also the first organisation in the developing world, which started using geo-stationary satellites for weather monitoring services (tying up with ISRO). IMD also is responsible now for forecasting meteorological information for weather sensitive activities like fishery, agriculture, shipping and aviation among several others. Given its mandate, any fallback on weather forecasting can have severe implications on the economy of the country. However, since 1988, when the IMD forecast was made operational, the predictions have failed in a smashing 65% of its cases. Scientifically, IMD's multi-parameter power "regression" model has been severely criticized for being truly "regressive" (by being non-dynamic). Added to it, the dictatorial announcement made by the Department of Science and Technology banning every other scientific institution from declaring the long-range weather forecast in public is nothing less than ridiculous (the same directive has prohibited Bangalore based Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation from making public its more accurate weather forecasts). This muzzling of scientific opinion can only put various sectors dependent on forecasts at a huge disadvantage. Required then is not only freedom to other institutions in publicising their forecasts, but also learning to IMD that allows them to change their mathematical models. Guess what else has the IMD been mandated to forecast... Earthquakes! Just run!

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