New Delhi, 10 Jan 2008
The farmers have been the backbone of India's growth and development. They feed the entire nation but the nation does not care for them. India's agriculture deepens on monsoon rain. The imbalance in the weather or natural disasters cause potential havoc to the farmers and their families. They are forced to take loans from private landlords at high interest rate in the hope that the next time they would be lucky. When they are unlucky again, they are forced to take the extreme steps and end their lives.
It is imaginable how their wives and children continue to live their lives.
According to available statistics, nearly 1,50,000 farmers committed suicide from 1997 to 2005 in India. On average, one Indian farmer committed suicide every 32 minutes between 1997 and 2005. Since 2002, that has become one suicide every 30 minutes. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were reported from five States - Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh (including Chattisgarh) and Kerala. This trend continued unabated. In 2006, 17,060 farmers including 2,396 women committed suicide in the country. Maharashtra topped the list with 4,453 suicides followed by Andhra Pradesh with 2,607, Karnataka (1,720), Chattisgarh (1,483), Madhya Pradesh (1,375), West Bengal (1,189) and Kerala (1,124), among others. In Maharashtra, Vidarbha region has turned into a killing field for farmers.
In 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried to apply a balm on the farmers' wounded lives by announcing a relief package of Rs 3,750 crores for six worst affected districts of Vidarbha. But the state government has made a serious fun of the scheme. The farmers were given cheques of paltry amount in the name of compensation. What is more grotesque is that the cheques often bounced back to harass the poor farmers. When the bank officials said they could do nothing if the government’s relief account did not have enough cash, even the farmers understood the government was mocking at their miserable lives.
Now, it has been reported that farmers in Vidarbha in Maharashtra have been provided compensation money (cheques) ranging from Rs 13 to Rs 20 for crop loss. The beneficiaries will probably have to spend more money than this when they go to the banks in the town to encash the cheques. Shocking! Shocking!! Shocking!!!
Are jokers running this country?
. One farmer’s suicide every 30 minutes, The Hindu, 15 November 2007
. Nearly 1.5 lakh farm suicides from 1997 to 2005, The Telegraph, 12 November 2007
. Bengal, Maharashtra top suicide list; fall in farmers’ suicide, The Hindu, 10 December 2007