India: When the Rain God Failed

When the Rain God Failed

At a Hindu ceremony in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Agriculture Minister G.S. Dhillon joined last week with local farmers in chanting a plea to the rain god Varuna. Across the country, farm workers fell into similar prayers. But even appeals to the gods went unheeded. India is plagued by its worst drought conditions in a century, and suffering is widespread.

Experts expect some crops to fall 40% to 50% from last year's levels. The yield in the agriculturally important states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will be about 70% below normal. A famine is considered unlikely since India has large...