India has no quick escape from its savage summer this year. The Indian Meteorological Department has said that the heat and drought conditions that are stifling at least 10 states in central, east and south India are expected to persist for another 30 to 45 days.
The heat wave that has locked in to Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha will not let up for the next five days, the met department forecasts. The heat is expected to intensify even in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh in the second half of this week.
The heat wave this year has broken records, and the accompanying drought is the worst in decades. But drought in India is a recurring affliction and in recent years it has become almost chronic. India's droughts are not only due to the lack of rain. Failure of rain is called a meteorological drought. This can cause water reserves in surface and ground water bodies to fall, causing an hydrological drought. When there is no water to feed crops and harvests fail, it is an agricultural drought.
Consecutive years of poor rain have led to India's water reserves running dry very early this summer. Some dams in Maharashtra have no water at all. All the reservoirs across the country have about a third of their collective capacity. This has led to the state governments implementing bans on digging borewells, and curtailing water supply into irrigation channels to preserve drinking water for longer and relying on tankers and trains to haul water to the driest areas.
The crisis has been caused, along with the deficient rains, by a lack of adequate water infrastructure particularly in rural India and poor water management everywhere. India's brisk population growth, rapid urbanisation, uncontrolled construction and rampant deforestation and loss of water bodies have exacerbated the problem.
On Monday 170 academics, social activists, economists, writers and filmmakers complained about the government's policy failures to prevent this drought and of its listless response "lacking in both urgency and compassion." But for many weeks now, editorial cartoonists have been ripping into the political class for their action and inaction in this time of drought. From the water trains to Marathwada to the melee over the Indian Premiere League, here's a selection of their unsparing satire.