Monday, July 18, 2022

Weird weather

Once upon a time weather predictions used to go so horribly wrong that forecasters on radio and television were the butt of jokes.

With better technology,  we are able to predict severe weather conditions like cyclones and monsoons more accurately. That helps authorities to take preventive measures to ensure the safety of citizens.

But on a broader level, the climatic conditions that influence weather patterns have varied so much that it's still difficult to predict whether it'll rain or shine in a particular month.

This year, for example, here in Bengaluru, we had barely any summer. We got so much rain during the first half of this year. 

I remember, it used to get quite hot from March onwards to nearly June, when it would begin to rain. In April, we got what used to be called "summer showers" or "April showers".

But this time around with so much rainfall, there has been no clarity on whether it's "summer showers", or "pre-monsoon showers" or "monsoon showers"!

In my school days, that's more than four decades ago, the south-west monsoon set in on Kerala exactly on the first of June. On the dot; there was never a change. Nowadays, it's either early or late.

Recently, Sydney, in Australia, got flooded for the third time this year. That's never happened before.

Right now, Europe is burning with record high temperatures. Just this morning I saw on BBC World News two students saying that during this time the previous year their locality was flooded. And they said it's so scary that this year it's so hot.

The problem is it's difficult to plan travel or holidays. Just because during a particular month in the previous years it was quite pleasant, doesn't mean it'd be so this year too.

(Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay)

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Kerala lottery and livelihood

I feel good to be back in the blogosphere after an unusually long break. I was on holiday and I had decided to keep off as many routine stuff as possible.

I was in Kerala, my home state, and like I always do when I am there, I bought lottery tickets. The desire to strike a jackpot is of course there. But that alone is not the reason.


It's a unique Kerala government programme that was started way back in 1967, when renowned communist leader E M S Namboodiripad was the chief minister. The objective was to generate additional revenue and also provide a source of income for the poor who sell the lottery tickets.

Kerala was the first state in India to have such a lottery scheme. Many states since then started similar programmes. 

But subsequently some states -- including Karnataka, where I now live -- banned them, because of an argument that the paper lottery scheme is akin to gambling, which is illegal in India, except in Goa and Sikkim, where there are casinos. 

In Kerala, over the past 50 years, this scheme has grown into a large industry, netting huge revenue for the state government as well as providing a means of sustenance for hundreds of thousand of ticket vendors. 

There is a full-fledged government department, under the ministry of finance, that runs the lotteries.

The very first draw was held on January 26, 1968, with a first prize money of ₹50,000 (about $630 in today's rates), quite a huge sum those days. 


Now, there are seven daily lotteries every week, and six bumper lotteries every year. Each of them has a different prize structure. The highest prize money could be as high as ₹10 crore ($1.2 million)

During each draw, around 250 people have a chance of winning some prize money, under various categories.

There is a draw every day at 3 pm, and it's done in a very transparent manner. In fact, it's streamed live on YouTube

The results are published on the web.


There are a slew of government welfare programmes that are run with the money that comes in from the sale of the tickets. 

There is a Welfare Fund Board under the Directorate of Kerala State Lotteries that takes care of the lottery ticket vendors. 

Karunya scheme is one such that supports people who are unable to afford the medical expenses.


Last month, when I was in Kerala, I bought two tickets. Each costs ₹40. 

It not just the temptation to try my luck, but the sense of contentment / happiness that the ticket cost goes towards government's welfare schemes that drives me to buy a ticket.

For one of the tickets I bought, I got a prize: ₹500. It's the 2nd time I was lucky; on an earlier occasion, I got ₹100.

The encashment of the prize was easy. I went to an authorised ticket vendor, and submitted the ticket. He scanned the QR code on my ticket using an app on his mobile phone. He confirmed the prize, and handed over the prize money.  

This methods of encashment is only for less than ₹1 lakh. For above that, the winner approaches a bank.