Agriculture is the bed rock of Indian. But the sector has been besieged with a number of problems that has become an ignominy and blight to our country’s progress chart. One such acute agrarian crisis is of farmer’s committing suicide. Despite media outcry and expressed concern by our policy makers, there are no signs of the suicide rate dropping. Experts have revealed that over 17,500 farmers committed suicide between 2002 and 2006 – a figure that largely mirrors an upswing of the trend that started in the early 1990s.
According to the latest NCRB report, the five states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, account for two-third of farm suicides in India. The situation in these states has worsened, with the farmers’ suicide rate increasing from 15.8 per 100,000 in 2001 to 16.3 in 2011. This rate is very high if one considers the average suicide rate in our country that stands at 11.1 per 100,000. And what is most alarming is that while the new Census 2011 data reveals a shrinking farmer population, the number of suicides has upped!
Successive governments have come and gone, but their apathy toward the agricultural sector continues. With urban development taking precedence, modern farming techniques have not penetrated our farms leading to over-dependence on monsoons. There is no sight of any financial inclusion for our farmers who have to depend on the merciless loan sharks for their financial needs. And when the farmers are unable to repay the loan, they make the dreadful choice of committing suicide.
The aftermath of the economic meltdown also saw a ‘reverse migration’ where farmers from the urban centers went back to cultivation. But without proper guidance and counseling they are left with no choice but to lead subsistence life. A pall of distress is engulfing our farm sector and it’s high time our government and policy makers find a way to resolve this agrarian crisis.