Sunday, February 18, 2007

Farmer suicides in India

During my school days, I’ve read that India is an agricultural country. Thanks to industrialization and growth of the IT sector the scenario has changed dramatically today. The economy of India is growing at a rate of 10%, which is awesome.

We see multi-lane highways, McDonalds, 100’s of Channels on TV, modern clothing, high-rise buildings, and boast about the Indian Economy.

Amidst all this, the Indian Government forgot that a majority of India still lives in villages, uneducated, depending on the rains depending on agriculture. We forgot to think about them. So, today we see migration patters to city from the impoverished villages.

The small farmer, whoever is left in the villages dependent on Agriculture for their livelihood struggles to make ends meet.

After all I Kg of Dal, an Egg, a Kg of rice etc. cost the same in villages too! Sometimes more expensive.

So, how can these poor farmers live? How can they raise their kids? It is very important for the Indian Government to take care of the villages/villagers/farmers.

Here is some news today about suicides and farmers. I felt really sad to read this, which made me write this post.

New Delhi, Feb. 17: Nearly 7,000 farmers committed suicide in different parts of the country in just three years, according to government statistics alone. The average is even more frightening: it works out to six farmers killing themselves every day during that period. Despite this, no mechanism has been put in place to monitor the progress of implementation of the Prime Minister’s special package for the farmers of 31 suicide-prone districts across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra, according to the reply furnished by the Union agriculture ministry to a set of questions posed by this newspaper under the Right to Information Act

3 comments:

Chakra Sampath said...

Everytime I read about India's economic growth, it scares the sh*t out of me. This growth - which increases the gap b/n the urban and rural areas is really dangerous. Particularly when it comes at the cost of the livelihood of the farmers. If the farmers could not manage to make both ends meet, what would they do at the end of the day? We could offer excellent solutions for the world in the form of BPO, E-Commerce, IT applications etc, but when we are hungry - could we download rice and wheat from the internet?

Balaji S Rajan said...

NV,

Good point. After reading your post I remember a farmer who was narrating their problems, once when I was travelling by train from Tanjore to Madras. Even today I remember his talk about their sufferings and hard work. It is a shame that they still have to depend on nature for their water resources. There are numerous problems faced by them. Having known few farmers, I could visualise your writings. As Chakra had said... Can we download Rice and Wheat? The Central Government should take immediate steps to stop this.

Sabarish Sasidharan said...

Apart from the difficulty in meeting livelihood expenses, the difficulty in paying back the huge loans they have taken is another big factor that drives them to suicide.

For atleast some (i think many, but can't substantiate) of these farmers who have committed suicide, their farming year depended on loans they had taken from the bank/money lender (mostly from the money lender, because banks wouldn't lend money to all farmers). They borrow first, use that money for that year and then hope to repay after they sell their produce. And that "hope" happens to be the weakest link in the chain.

So apart from just nature, government's procurement policies, rates, infrastructure (for ex sometimes the farmers have to spend days in the open air, their produce hauled in bullock carts, before their produce gets procured) etc affect that "hope" and sometimes destroy it, leading to suicides. They have to face that deadly queue (waiting for as many as 3-10 days), yes the very same queue we all have faced before to buy anything from cinema tickets to rlwy tickets, before their produce gets procured.