19 September, 2020


India vs Pakistan. Far beyond cricket or Kashmir, the rivalry stretches even to the field of meteorology. The battle scene at an international conference.

It was through a footnote in a scientific journal that Varun Dev learned about the Pakistani experiment to steal India's monsoon. The Indian meteorologist at the weather station in Amritsar squinted at the annotation: "See M. Ali's monograph about successful cloud-seeding experiments in Pakistan."

Mushtaq Ali was a meteorologist across the border in Lahore. He was about the same age as Varun Dev. Accordingly, the Indian scientist's first reaction had nothing to do with patriotism, pride or national security. He felt a twinge of jealousy that the Pakistani had been cited in the prestigious Journal of Meteorology. He noted with satisfaction that the footnote did not offer many details. Only a handful of meteorologists in the world would know who M. Ali was, and all worked near Amritsar and Lahore. No one who mattered would notice, certainly no one in America or England, which was where the journal was published.

To further console himself, Varun Dev read aloud from an invitation he had received to an important conference in London later that month. He injected a...


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