1. Question
  2. Self-Study Monsoon Climate First
  3. Introduction (Definition then Origin)
  4. Conclusion: Describe characteristics = Summary
  5. Afterthoughts / Pitfalls


So far I’ve solved the first 16 questions of the UPSC Mains Paper-1, now time for 17th:

Q17: What characteristics can be assigned to monsoon climate that succeeds in feeding more than 50 percent of the world population residing in Monsoon Asia? (250 words, Asked in GSM1-2017)

मानसून एशिया में रहेने वाली संसार की ५० प्रतिशत से अधिक जनसंख्या के भरण-पोषण में सफल मानसून जलवायु को क्या अभिलक्षण समनुदेशित किये जा सकते है?

Self-Study Monsoon Climate First

Monsoon Climate characteristics

  • Learn about Monsoon climate from Rajtanil’s Youtube Lecture.
  • While Goh Cheng Leong’s chapter 16 is dedicated to monsoon climate topic, but I’ve found NIOS Geography ch. 13 and 17 (FREE PDF) much better suitable to answer this question. Its FREE PDFs also available in Hindi, Gujarati and other regional languages for quick cross-referencing of translated phrases and terminologies.
  • NCERT Class 11: Physical Geography Ch. 12 on World Climates and NCERT Class 11: India Physical Environment Ch. 4 on Climate are also contain points for this topic, but I found NIOS much better still, for this question.

Introduction (Definition then Origin)

  • (Definition) Climate is the average weather conditions of a large area for the past several years.
  • (Origin of Climatic Classification) According to the Koeppen system of climatic classification, the world is divided into five climatic groups and 13 climatic types- based on the temperature, precipitation and vegetation.
  • The first climatic group among them is (A) Tropical climates (उष्णकटिबंधीय आबोहवा) : It consists of three climatic types
    • i) Tropical rain forest (उष्णकटिबंधीय वर्षावन)
    • ii) Savanna climate (सवाना आबोहवा)
    • iii) Monsoon climate (मानसून आबोहवा)- which is found over the Indian sub-continent, North Eastern part of South America and Northern Australia.
  • The notable characteristics of the Monsoon climate are as following:
  • While everyone knows what is Monsoon climate, but in real exam you may not recall sufficient points to fillup 250 words answer, so better padup the introduction using both Definition of CLIMATE PLUS Origin of its Classification.
  • However, if you’ve sufficient points, you could directly start with “definition of climate….” and the notable features of Monsoon climate are as following” without writing about the classification.

Body#1: Temperature , Precipitation and seasons

Unlike other places of the world which usually have only two seasons 1) summer and 2) winter, a tropical monsoon region has FOUR seasons viz.

  1. The cold weather season (December to February): शीत ऋतू
    1. Mid-December: “Western disturbances” originating from the Mediterranean region arrive to India via Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. They cause wide spread snowfall over western Himalayas and crop-destroying hailstorms in the northwestern plains.
    2. January: It is the coldest month because sun shines vertically over the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere.
  2. The hot weather season – (March to May): ग्रीष्म ऋतू
    1. As the sun moves towards the north, temperature rises. Heat is so stifling that outdoor life is unbearable.
    2. Loo: Hot dry wind in Northern plains of India. Mango showers in Kerala, Northwesters/ Kal-Basakhi / Violent thunderstorms in W.Bengal / Assam.
  3. The advancing southwest monsoon season – (June to September): आगे बढ़ते द.प. मानसून की ऋतू
    1. Heavy rainfall in summer is the defining characteristic of Monsoon climate. Although,
    2. The spatial distribution of rainfall is uneven – some regions may receive heavy rains & floods, while the others will have to be contented with meagre rains, droughts & famines.
    3. The amount and timing of rainfall varies from year to year. This is known as the vagaries of the monsoons.
    4. Since nearly 70% of Indian population live in rural areas, and rainfed subsistence farming has been the oldest occupation of the village communities, the vagaries of monsoon has profound impact on Indian economy.
  • When you mention “Vagaries of monsoon” DONOT DIGRESS into farmers are committing suicide due to moneylenders etc. Because this question was asked under GSM1-Geography and not under GSM3-Indian Agriculture and Economy. STICK to describing the CHARACTERISTICS of monsoon climate only.
  • You’re not asked about the “MECHNISM OF MONSOON.” So don’t waste words about ICTZ, heating of the Tibetan Plateau etc. Simply you’ve to write the characteristics only. केवल जो पूछा गया है उसके बारे में लिखो.
  1. The retreating southwest monsoons season – (October and November): निवर्तिन / पीछे हटते
    1. Sun moves towards equator, the temperature falls, low pressure weakens over Pakistan-Punjab region. Therefore, monsoon winds begin to retreat (निवर्तन).
    2. These dry winds suckup moisture over Bay of Bengal, and result into rainfall over Tamilnadu coast.
    3. But, due to low pressure area over Bay of Bengal, cyclonic storms are also developed. They cause heavy destruction of life and property in the eastern coast of India.

For educational purpose, I’ve elaborated the characteristics of each season. But to maintain the word limit in the real exam, you may just write name of seasons, associated months, and maximum one sentence about each season.

Body#2: Vegetation of Monsoon Climate (वनस्पति)

  • Vegetation depends on the amount of rainfall. Since monsoon climate is marked by uneven rainfall, therefore vegetation ranges from forests to thickets, and from savanna to scrubland.
  • However, the trees in this climatic zone are usually deciduous (पर्णपाती)– they shed their leaves in the dry period to withstand the drought.
  • Notable species are: Sal, Neem, Tendu and Bamboo in India. Teak in Burma Myanmar. Eucalyptus in N.Australia.

Question is about “monsoon climate characteristics”. So, even for the sake of appearances we should mention some non-Indian countries associated with this climate.

Body#3: Diversity in Monsoon Climate

  • Diversity in Temperature: W.Rajasthan above 50 degree celcius. Leh below 40 degree Celsius. Within Thar desert- day temperature 50C, while night temperature 15C.
  • Diversity in Precipitation: The amount of rainfall in Meghalaya in a single day = 10 years of rainfall at Jaisalmer.
  • Diversity in Vegetation: Shrubs in Northern Australia to Mangroves in SriLanka, to Pines in Himalayas.

Body#4: Unity in Monsoon Climate

  • Due to the seasonal and regional variations in temperature and precipitation- different regions of monsoon climate are capable of producing different crops in varying quantities.
  • This makes all regions completely interdependent on each other- be it the Basmati rice from Punjab, Lasalgaon onions, Nagpur oranges or Bhut Jolakia chili from Assam.
  • Festivals, food and clothing habits are closely linked with seasons. Monsoon climate controls all of them directly or indirectly.

Conclusion: Describe characteristics = Summary

  • Indeed, among all the climate regions of the world, the Monsoon climate is unique for its temperature, precipitation and the resultant seasons, which in turn have profound impact on the vegetation of the associated countries and the lifestyle and economic habits of its inhabitants.

While writing answer for Geography, better to use word “inhabitants” instead of “citizens”, and “precipitation” instead of “rainfall”.

Afterthoughts / Pitfalls

  • Wladimir Koeppen (1846-1940) had selected certain values of temperature and precipitation and related them to the distribution of vegetation and used these values for classifying the climates. Therefore, any answer about “Characteristics of _ _ _ type of climate” is hollow without describing these three characteristics: 1) Temperature 2) Precipitation 3) Vegetation. The other characteristics such as “shifting cultivation,”other economic activities“,”clothes“,”unity in diversity“- they’re just filler bolbachchan.
  • Hairsplitters could interpret this question as “write ONLY about the characteristics of monsoon climate THAT feed 50% of world population.” That means write only about the characteristics that affect the production of foodcrops. But I don’t subscribe to their point of view.
  • You’re not asked about the “MECHNISM OF MONSOON.” So don’t waste words about ICTZ, heating of the Tibetan Plateau etc. Simply you’ve to write the characteristics only.
  • You’re not asked about “SEASONS of India”. I’ve elaborate them only for educational purpose. You should summarize the four seasons in one or two lines each.
  • You’re not asked to ENUMERATE the differences between Tropical monsoon climate vs. Tropical Marine climate or rainforest or Savannah climate. So, trying to “invent characteristics” like that will leave poor impression on the examiner.
  • By doing further PHD you could come up with unique characteristics of monsoon climate in N.Australia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia etc. but that is unnecessary because this question is asked under GENERAL STUDIES paper, not under Geography OPTIONAL SUBJECT paper.

Visit Mrunal.org/Mains for more on the Art of Answer-Writing.