“While, like last year, I seek the blessings of Lord Indra to bestow on us timely and bountiful monsoons, I would pray to Goddess Lakshmi as well. I think it is a good strategy to diversify one's risks.” – Pranab Mukherjee in Budget speech 2012-13.

It’s a million-dollar question. Has the Indian economy been weather-proofed?

Well, likely yes, if one were to go by the tone and tenor of the Union Budget 2013-14 presented on the last day of February by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

There was no mention of the monsoon season, impending or otherwise, or rain or their implications for what was once considered a predominantly agricultural economy – something that would find prayerful mention in Budget speech delivered till as recently as the last year (2012-13) when Finance Minister and now President Pranab Mukherjee would do the honours.

Mukherjee had taken care to seek the blessings of Lord Indra in 2011-12 and, in what he would describe was ‘a good strategy to diversify one’s risks,’ invoked Goddess Lakshmi, too, (2012-13) in the two successive Budgets that he authored.

It’s another thing that Mukherjee prayers would meet with mixed response. While the year 2011 monsoon made the grade (surplus of +2 per cent), the 2012 season began disastrously only to turn in unprecedentedly massive rally in the last stages to end up with a deficit of only 8 per cent.

Pranab’s entreaties to Goddess Lakshmi and diversification of the risk might just have worked. Else, the 2012 could have turned out to be a complete washout with unspeakable implications for irrigation, drinking water, and very livelihood for the country’s teeming millions.

One year down the line, the overarching message emerging out of Chidambaram’s Budget speech was that the economy might just have managed to turn the corner, with services sector assuming such prominence in the sweepstakes at agriculture’s expense.

But can one wish away the importance of the monsoons, spatial and temporal distribution of rain, and, least of all, assured supply of the very water of life?

Mail me at: vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in