In his latest book, historian Sunil Amrith describes the ageless link between water and prosperity in South Asia and examines the new challenges of climate change.
By Michelle Nicholasen
The monsoon is often referred to as India’s “finance minister,” writes Faculty Associate Sunil Amrith, because the economy of South Asia is deeply tied to the amount of rainfall the monsoon brings each year—to fill aquifers, irrigate agriculture, and drive hydroelectricity. But climate change is threatening to shift the patterns of the monsoon, making it more erratic, with the potential to destabilize livelihoods throughout the region.
Q: How would you describe the summer (or Southwest) monsoon to someone who has never experienced it?
A: It feels like the world is dissolving. Both the intensity and the pervasiveness of water during those months of the year are what characterize them. And if you're in a big city like Mumbai, you are certainly in this “floating city” to some extent.