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Climate and WeatherBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
India - Climate and Weather
As the seventh largest country in the world, India has a diverse set of environments within its vast terrain.
According to the Köppen climate classification system, India has six types of climate:
1. Tropical wet
2. Tropical wet and dry
3. Semi-arid or steppe
4. Humid sub-tropical
6. Desert or arid
Seasons In India
In addition to the different climate zones in India, there are four seasons which alter the temperatures and weather in each area:
1. Winter (January to February)
2. Summer/pre-monsoon (March to June)
3. Rainy/south west monsoon (July to September)
4. Autumn/north east monsoon (October to December)
If your employer is sending you out to work in India, you may not have much choice about when you go. However, if you have the freedom to choose your travel plans, you may be wondering when it will be best to jet out.
It is generally agreed that the best time to go to India is between November and March. While you may catch the rain in the North East, the rest of the country will be over the Monsoon season. Temperatures will be cool, especially in the evenings, but the sun usually shines for much of the day and there are very few places where you will see the temperature drop to zero.
Acclimatising to the Indian weather before summer is a good idea. In Delhi, for example, summer temperatures quickly climb to averages of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Even local people struggle to get through sweltering days and nights without the benefit of air conditioning. Just when you think you’ve reached your limit, the occasional dust storm arrives to destroy homes, uproot trees and claim lives. If this is your first experience of India and you haven’t had time to experience some of the positive aspects of the country, you may decide to pack your bags before you’ve had time to adjust.
What To Wear In India
You will need a varied wardrobe when living in India.
Bear in mind that your location will have its own climate and even microclimate. Living near the Himalayas will require more warm clothing than, say, the hot and semi-arid conditions of Jaipur.
Do also remember that there are four distinct seasons, so you will need a wardrobe that reflects the time of year. In Monsoon season, you’ll need good waterproof boots and a lightweight waterproof coat. Meanwhile, during the summer, the streets may suddenly feel like the inside of an oven.
In addition, of course, what you are doing will determine how you dress. India is a country where the very rich, professional middle classes, modest working families and the totally destitute jostle together along the overcrowded streets. This means that appearance is an important signal of your financial standing as well as your cultural and religious values.
If you are heading off for a low-key shopping excursion, it’s a good idea to leave highly valuable jewellery and handbags behind. However, if you are meeting a client at an expensive restaurant, your clothing, shoes and accessories should quietly suggest your success and status.
Women’s Clothes In India
Thankfully, India is a place where both traditional dress and Western clothing are acceptable and commonplace. Few people will have a problem with women wearing jeans, although if you find traditional clothing more suitable and comfortable for the climate, that’s fine too.
But be aware of the need to dress modestly. The ‘rape culture’ and sexism in India is endemic, although some areas appear to be worse for expat women than others. As Carissa Hickling,a well-travelled Canadian now living in Mumbai, told ExpatFocus:
“However one element does come to mind from my early Delhi days. There is a funny little thing called ‘Eve Teasing’… Except that it actually isn’t amusing at all. It covers with a ‘cute’ label the very serious challenge of sexual harassment women face to a varying degree in their everyday lives.
My polite, friendly Canadian approach to common interactions had to be replaced by an ‘armour’ of aggression and what felt to me like rudeness, snapping back at the slightly provocation lest someone feel emboldened to try and get away with more.
Women face sexual harassment all over the world, however I found the blatant misogyny and tolerance for such behaviour in North India challenging. I should also note, it is not so prevalent in other parts of India. When I moved to Mumbai, I could take for granted freedoms unimaginable and imprudent in Delhi.“
So remember to keep the bikini for the pool and avoid wandering out into the dark streets in a tiny miniskirt. From a liberated western culture you may be angry that isn’t right for men so see a woman’s clothing as an invitation for sexual assault. But the government is struggling to stop some traditional communities and rogue criminal groups from killing women and girls who report rape, or forcing the young sisters of rapists to be raped by the victim’s older brother as part of the village ‘justice’ system. And nearly one young woman an hour will be murdered for financial gain in a practice known as a ’dowry death’. Dowries are illegal but still commonplace, reflecting how little power the authorities have to change attitudes and behaviour.
The old saying “it is better to be safe than sorry” is a useful reminder of how to dress as a woman even in modern India.
Environmental Problems In India
India has a number of risks inherent in its geography. Poverty, overcrowding, poor education, fragile government systems and climate change mean these natural disasters now claim many lives in India each year.
The main environmental problems of India to be noted are:
● Polluted air
● Dust storms
The most common natural disaster to occur in India are floods. Almost every part of India is flood-prone as Monsoon rains can drop a huge quantity of water into an area in a few short hours. River banks, paddy fields, crop fields and villages are often unable to cope.
The death toll directly attributable to the 2013 floods in and around the state of Uttarakhand surpassed 1,000 people. More than 400 people died in the 2018 floods in Kerala and hundreds more died in other Indian states the same year. Over recent decades, these shocking numbers have become the norm, with frequent references to events getting worse as a result of climate change. Around a million people each year in India are displaced from their homes and many more lose crops, animals and other sources of their family income.
Floods and heavy rainfall can cause hillsides to become unstable, especially where the geology of an area makes the rock particularly susceptible. Deforestation is an increasing problem which increases the risk, as loggers and developers strip away the wider eco-structure needed to impede the downhill flow of water and strengthen the soil.
Tropical cyclones bring heavy rains and strong gales, particularly to coastal regions around the North Indian Ocean Basin. They can arrive anytime between April and December. Two cyclones will typically be experienced every year, with a major one occurring once every two years.
Cyclones cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. If one is imminent, find a safe place to hide and have an emergency pack with you. At a minimum, this should include a first aid kit and essential medicines, a torch and spare batteries, food which can be eaten without refrigeration or further cooking, and plenty of bottles of clean drinking water.
Droughts And Heatwaves
When droughts occur in India, they correlate with an El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. Thanks to modern relief systems, Indian families no longer die from drought-related famine. However, the impact on local families as they watch their crops turn to dust is still devastating.
Expats are more likely to be personally affected by a severe heatwave. These are increasing in frequency, the length of time they last, and the size of areas affected.
Heatwaves can be deadly; the 2015 Indian heat wave killed more than 2,500 people. We discuss how to keep yourself safe in the heat in the Health section of this country guide.
Read more about this country
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