“I’ll see you at your house in the evening,” I said to Mahendra on the phone as I was driving from Pune to Dhawalpuri.
“No,” he said, “we have moved. Not staying at our usual place. Come into the village and call my cousin. He will bring you to our camp”.
Two weeks ago, I was in Pune and decided to visit Mahendra and catch up with him after a gap of about nine months. As I drove past the dry arid areas of Ahmednagar district, I noticed something peculiar: although the fields along the highway had been ploughed, not a single one had been planted with a crop. Abhishek, my driver, pointed out that people had abandoned farming this season due to lack of rains.
India is going though a fourth consecutive year of drought, and this year might be the worst. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), 42% of India is rainfall deficient this season, with the south-west monsoon having failed.
The districts of Beed, Osmanabad and Latur in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra are facing the worst ever drought in 100 years, and people in the area get drinking water only once a week. Eighty-seven per cent of Marathwada depends on these seasonal rains for agriculture.