Socioeconomic challenges continue to mount for half a billion residents of central India because of a decline in the total rainfall and a concurrent rise in the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall events. Alongside a weakening monsoon circulation, the locally available moisture and the frequency of moisture-laden depressions from the Bay of Bengal have also declined. Here we show that despite these negative trends, there is a threefold increase in widespread extreme rain events over central India during 1950-2015. The rise in these events is due to an increasing variability of the low-level monsoon westerlies over the Arabian Sea, driving surges of moisture supply, leading to extreme rainfall episodes across the entire central subcontinent. The homogeneity of these severe weather events and their association with the ocean temperatures underscores the potential predictability of these events by two-to-three weeks, which offers hope in mitigating their catastrophic impact on life, agriculture and property.