India may become farmer suicide capital: Agri Adviser

Between 2008 to 2015, 1.14 lakh farmers took their own lives with a yearly average of 14,255 after reaching a crest of 17,368 in 2009 and a trough of 11,772 by 2013. PTI photo for representation

A senior adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture warns that India may soon earn the dubious title of 'farmer suicide capital of the world', as there is an "enormous socio-political inertia and appalling indifference to the psychological agonies" of country's "food soldiers".

Though the government has not released farmers' suicide data post-2015, a 1987-batch Indian Economic Service officer P C Bodh calculates using previous years' figures that another 70-75,000 farmers may commit suicide during 2016-2020, taking the toll near to four lakh for 25 years since 1995. He says his views were not that of the Ministry.

In his new book 'Farmers' Suicides in India: A Policy Malignancy', Bodh says the "resurgence of suicide psychosis" among farmers since 2014-15 appeared not only to have disproved the general belief that farmers were on the way to recovery from distress but also to have serious doubts about the effectiveness of the National Policy on Farmers 2007 and the 4% agricultural growth solution.

Bodh says, "the Indian polity, infested with self-seeking politicians, bureaucrats, business people, and industrialists, has failed to see that the country's food soldiers have started deserting en masse. The ratio of agriculturist population to the total population has been declining sharply, and 40% of those who are still holding to their ploughs to defend their ambushed farming fort are waiting to desert at the first opportunity."

He says even as a “gigantic farm economy”, lawmakers, bureaucrats and the public at large are “asleep through an agricultural and developmental nose dive for around six decades” and except for the first two decades, Indian planning and policy “grew in oblivion” of the pivotal role that agriculture plays the country's development.

“This national apathy towards millions of farmers who were just recovering from its hundreds-of-years-old wound and weakness sustained from colonial devastation...India may win the rather dubious distinction of being the farmer suicide capital of the world: the land of farmers' suicides, making farmers' suicides almost an endemic in India” he says.

Emphasising that the gravity of the agrarian crisis could be gauged from the fact that by 2016, suicides have continued relentlessly for 22 years, Bodh laments, "what is not dawning on the country's polity is the socioeconomic gravity that this harrowing figure points out to. Instead of getting seized by a national sense of alarm at the enormity of the crisis, the country is again settling in for conducting another series of soulless, muffled reports on the subject."

During 1995-2007, over 2.07 lakh farmers committed suicide with a yearly average of 15,953, peaking at 18,241 in 2004 and coming down to 16,632 in 2007. Between 2008 to 2015, 1.14 lakh farmers took their own lives with a yearly average of 14,255 after reaching a crest of 17,368 in 2009 and a trough of 11,772 by 2013.

The annual average rate of farmers suicide between 1995 and 2015 was 15,306 and going by this average, Bodh projects that 76,530 farmers could commit suicide between 2016 and 2020, taking the total farmers' suicide to 3.92 lakhs.

Karnataka had 42,768 cases of farmers' suicide between 1995 and 2015 and the 2016-2020 projection for Karnataka is 8,949. Bodh says Karnataka experienced sharp increases in the farmers' suicide rate during 1999-2003, remaining much above the annual average of 1,790.

Farmer Suicides

Farmer Suicides 1995-2007 – 2,07,385
Annual Average (1995-2007) – 15,953

Farmer Suicides 2008-2015 – 1,14,043
Annual Average (2008-2015) – 14,255

Projected Suicides 2016-2020 – 71,277 (if one takes the avg of 2008-2015)

Total Suicides between 1995-2020 – 3,92,705

Karnataka

42,768 farmer suicides – between 1995 and 2015

8,949 – projection for 2016-2020

Karnataka experienced sharp increases in farmers' suicide rate during 1999-2003, remaining much above the annual average of 1,790.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)