23/06/2024 11:51 AM

Quiz master Phanindra Ivatury of the Netherlands shares his observations of the literally ‘burning’ summer season including in his country of origin, India which witnessed record high temperatures


UTRECHT (The Netherlands), June 23 (Bernama) -- Having experienced six summers in the Netherlands, I am intrigued by the eager anticipation that locals exhibit as they eagerly await summer here.

Notwithstanding the actual sweltering months of the year (July and August), summer vibes are ushered in with great revelry from April itself in the Netherlands with the onset of daylight saving time.  

As the day extends into late hours, the boats set sail through the famous Dutch canals, garment chains put on display their fanciest beach wear collection for the season and parties galore in the open until late night as the weather gets pleasant, letting people relegate their weary winter wear into wardrobes.


Delhi’s Summer Sizzle:


Not all places from around the world, especially from Asia, can boast a rosy summer story like the above.  As a regular subscriber to the The New York Times’ (NYT) daily newsletter, my jaw dropped the other day on discovering an appalling headline that pertained to an Indian city where I spent a considerable part of my life. 

It read “New Delhi sweats through its hottest day in recorded history”.  The story was about how the temperatures in India’s capital city have hit a record high of 52.3 degrees Celsius or 126 degrees Fahrenheit on the 29th of May 2024.  There were fears about how the electricity grid can be overwhelmed and patient count with heatstroke can bulge in hospitals.

Over the past three months, folks and friends from back home in India have already fed me stories on how the summer this year has taken everyone to the cleaners but to read about it as a ‘NYT’ prime story was like staring straight into the eye of some piercing gleam. 

Being an inhabitant of Delhi for several spells of my life since the age of twenty, I used to often wonder, during my earlier years, how a city with so many trees and gardens can get that hot and humid during summers. 

Those were pre-internet days and the preferred way to seek answers was by asking the born natives of the land.  I learnt that the hot desert winds from the nearby state of Rajasthan sometimes cause the summer mayhem in Delhi.  Like the Netherlanders longing for a rosy summer, Delhiites crave for a rosier winter which in present times is being experienced in all its chilled glory of the past, only during the months of December-January.


Are parts of Asia turning into an Inferno in 2024?:


In July 2023, it was reported that an Iranian airport hit an unprecedented ‘feels like’ temperature of  66 degrees Celsius with heat and humidity combined. In April 2024, the Health Ministry of Malaysia recorded 40+ extreme summer illness cases caused due to heat exhaustion, stroke and cramps – with two individuals succumbing to it.

While Vietnam declared a state of emergency and trying to negotiate prolonged summer and water scarcity, schools in Philippines suspended classes after summer temperatures soared to an alarming high.  Thailand is the worst hit with temperatures across the country breaking all-time records.  Some of these Asian countries are now looking at a grim picture of drought caused by the heat havoc, drying up of rivers and power outages.


Heat Index:


Definitions galore.  National Weather Service of the United States describes it in the simplest way possible.  Head Index, also known as the ‘apparent temperature’, is ‘what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature’ .  As per reports, a heat index of 66 Degrees Celsius (like the one experienced in Iran last year) can be fatal as it exceeds the thresholds which a human body can endure for longer periods.


Climatic Shift:


What are the significant factors that contribute to such severe weather conditions?  I won’t labour much on highlighting one of the world’s most discussed term, this decade. ‘Global Warming’.

GAVI-The Vaccine Alliance says: “Policymakers can work to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels in vehicles, power plants and factories, which drive global warming and develop effective plans to protect older people from heat risk.”


Warming of the Oceans:


Most of us wrongly consider that the unusual hot weather directly results from the rise in air temperatures – because we usually tend to experience that when we go out on a hot summer day. 

Climatic Scientists say that most of the heat that emanates is not in the atmosphere but in the oceans.  All the excess heat caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases goes into warming the ocean's surface, which mixes up further downwards towards the deeper ocean.  When movements are caused in the ocean currents due to some factors, the heat can spring back to the surface.  Such a phenomenon can release the heat back into the atmosphere helping the air temperatures soar.

Worrying climatic fluctuations are long begging for global attention; and until such time stabilising factors can cut through the ‘global warming’ clutter, exceptional hot weather with record breaking temperatures can become more and more normal than being unusual.  One such warning is ringing firm through recent heat stories from elsewhere in the world – like tourists succumbing to history-making high temperatures in Greece and wildfires engulfing parts of California in US.


Yet another Indian Heat Headline:


The Indian Premier League (IPL) which is by far the world’s most popular cricket league is usually scheduled for a two-month period during the Indian summer.  National and international cricketers from across the globe participate in this cash-rich league, often battling oppositions in the most extreme heat conditions. 

 Another ‘celebrity heat headline’ which baffled me recently was about Indian movie Superstar Shah Rukh Khan (he owns an IPL team called the Kolkata Knight Riders) who was briefly hospitalised after suffering a heatstroke in the process of travelling across Indian cities in support of his team games.  It paid off eventually as his team were crowned Champions this year.


A Place Under the Sun:


Ideal Asian summers should stay put the way they were traditionally – representing academic holidays, the onset of the mango season, soothing cottons, evening beach strolls, movie releases and family travel – because each of us deserve ‘a place under the sun’; the literal and pleasant way, that is. 



TAGS: Phanindra Ivatury, summer, temperature




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