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Opinion » Columns » Sainath

Updated: October 29, 2011 12:23 IST

Maharashtra leads in statistic of shame

P. Sainath
Comment (22)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

Share of Big 5 rose to 66.49 % of all farm suicides in 2010

Click here to view/download table on Farm Suicides: All India totals and numbers for five worst-affected States, 1995-2010

The five States with the largest share of the quarter-of-a-million farm suicides recorded in India over the past 16 years are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

While the total number of farmers who took their own life in 2010 showed a dip from the preceding year, the share of the Big 5, in fact, rose to 66.49 per cent of all farm suicides in 2010. It was 62 per cent in 2009. Three of the Big 5 States have shown significant increases over 2009: Maharashtra (+269), Karnataka (+303), and Andhra Pradesh (+111). Nationally, the last eight years have seen on average, farmers killing themselves at a rate of one every 30 minutes.

In all, 14 of 28 States reported increases in 2010, while four have recorded declines of five or fewer suicides. The dip in 2010 comes with big falls in Chhattisgarh (-676), Tamil Nadu (-519) and Rajasthan (-461) and significant falls in Madhya Pradesh (-158), Puducherry (-150), and Uttar Pradesh (-108). West Bengal and Gujarat also report declines of 61 and 65. But the overall trend remains dismal.

In 1995, the first time the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) tabulated farm suicide data, the Big 5 accounted for 56.04 per cent of all farm suicides . In 2010, despite a one-year decline, they accounted for 66.49 per cent. Maharashtra's story is alarming. It saw 20,066 farmers kill themselves between 1995 and 2002. That stands dwarfed by the 30,415 farmers who took their lives in the next eight years. The latter period saw an annual average increase of nearly 1,155 such deaths in the State. This was also the period when money was poured into relief ‘packages' of the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister, through the loan waiver of 2008, and other measures.

During the very decade in which it reigned without break as the worst State to be a farmer in, Maharashtra rose to the first position among the big States in per capita income. Overall at Rs. 74,027, it is behind only much smaller States like Haryana and Goa. The Union Agriculture Minister is from this State and has held that post for six of those 10 years.

Farmer's suicides are a symptom of a deep-routed malaise that affects our society. our governments-central&state have neglected the agricultural sector for too long.Our agricultural growth is totally lopsided and uneven. In Maharashtra too many resources have been diverted for the cultivation of sugarcane at the expense of crops like wheat, rice, maize,potatoes,onions and cereals. Vegetable farming has also been neglected which is reflected in the high prices of vegetables.Large parts of Maharashtra are drought prone and it is precisely in these areas that there have been the maximum suicides.The government should make sincere attempts to ensure that irrigation is accorded a high priority while formulating its policies. The government should strengthen the Cooperative societies Act and try to ensure that farmers turn to cooperative farming as an alternative to individual farming. The government should formulate policies to encourage food-processing plants in Maharashtra.

from:  Umesh Bhagwat
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 12:36 IST

Powerful documentary and articles and my gratitude to Mr. P. Sainath to work day in
and day out to bring these stories to light when it must have been emotionally
draining. I have read all the comments. Is there nothing we can do? Our
government cannot be shamed even with such articles, corruption is rampant, but is
there ultimately no hope for these people that feed and clothe us? I can give some
money to assuage my guilt but is there no grassroots movement to help?

from:  Sagarika Nayak
Posted on: Nov 7, 2011 at 04:53 IST

Really Frustrating figures.Shame on the causes(especially the people who cause) of farmer suicides. Really there are n number of things/people to blame.But by blaming each other nothing is going to improve.Let us be together & make MY & YOUR i.e OUR INDIA a better place.(Recently I watched a movie in which a village politician force poor & very elder farmer to suicide to take advantage of government funds provided to his families )

from:  Atul
Posted on: Nov 1, 2011 at 22:59 IST

It is shocking! The richest of the land, who actually loot the national wealth in the name of the development, get rewarded; while the poor farmers, who work hard under most difficult conditions to feed the nation and conserve the natural resources, have to die untimely deaths. Is there no one among the powers-that-be in this so called largest democracy, who will care about it? This is a national shame! Does the so called 'inclusive development' mean giving billions to the few ultra-rich in tax breaks and turning a blind eye to millions who deserve the most? Will this government dare to heed the call of millions? This is shameful to see how much money is spent on cricket, and how little is being done for agriculture, while both are being controlled by the same person? I hope some sincere people will come forward for the cause of poor farmers, the citizens of real Bharat! Thank you Mr. Sainath for such a brilliant article. You are doing a great service! Keep it up.

from:  K.Grover USA
Posted on: Oct 30, 2011 at 03:02 IST

Individual farmer suicides need to be probed more deeply. In West Bengal, I noticed a case in which the suicide's family was indebted about Rs 30,000 to the local moneylender. As the crop failed, the eldest son of the family went to the field in the morning, drank insecticide from a bottle and fell dead. It seemed to me like pre-planned, as though family members knew the boy would die. A few weeks later, a source in the police narrated to me a bizarre story. He said a local political leader and the moneylender were in cahoots in running a business of lending money to the unbankable at interest rates of 200 per cent and above. To cover risk, the practice is to sign a sale deed of the borrowers' household. If the family is indeed afraid of eviction, and thinks it can repay the loan in the next season, it must make on of the sons die. I understand how grotesque it sounds. But that's how credit market operates in the lower depths of Indian society.

Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 18:31 IST

How much authentic and how much bogus suicide happening Maharashtra that one is great problem. Leader of farmer origination Sharad Joshi requested government stop to add victim relatives.Than only clear picture of suicide we can judge.Government of Maharashtra paying rupee one lac.

from:  Ramesh Raghuvanshi
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 15:58 IST

Yes, Bihar and UP should have been in the top list. However it is interesting to see the so called advanced states are leading. Sharad Pawar who is the Agriculture minister should directly be held responsible. But our illiterate, stupid farmers cannot comprehend and fight for their rights. They are dying meaningless deaths. Why can't they do something before they die to help others!!!

from:  Mahesh PG
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 15:46 IST

I thank 'The Hindu' and P. Sainath for highlighting this issue. It is a matter of national shame; the people who feed the nation are killing themselves.

from:  Ranganathan
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 15:42 IST

All these states are having huge mega cities but they dont have equal development .
For example take tamil nadu or gujarat.In these states all the towns and villages have good conectivity and have far higher literacy rates and the infrastructure is pretty decent.
So the others should follow the model of the sates like Tamil Nadu.

from:  mitun
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 14:34 IST

The Union Agriculture Minister is from this State and has held that post for six of those 10 years.n he is none other than FORMER BCCI PRESIDENT N PRESENT ICC PRESIDENT, like us he also more interested in sachins 100 ton than farmers

Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 14:25 IST

The electronic media and a section of the print media would have been talking only about this information for days if any State with a non-Congress party in power had this dubious distinction instead of Maharashtra. If anything bad happens in UP, that State is referred to as Mayawati's UP. If infants are dying in a hospital in West Bengal, care will be taken to refer to that State as Mamta's West Bengal. By the way, will anybody say that the "statistic of shame" pertains to Sonia Ganddhi's and Manmohan Singh's India. Whether anyone says that or not, the fact remains that it is happening in their India.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 14:03 IST

I think this evidence speaks only one side of the tragic story. Perhaps, the statistics of number of people who quit farming by statewide would portray real dire state of food production and insecurity in India. Example: The stretch between Ambur and Kancheepuram on the paalar river bank completely ruined the water quality due to unregulated tannery factories . The number of people who earned bread and butter from soil now forced to let go for mere rhetoric speech by politicians on the state developments. It is beyond the correction limits.

from:  Raji shanmugam
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 13:41 IST

@ramchandran.I am completely agree with you. It's a shame for the state like maharashtra ,karnatka and andhra pradesh.These are the affluent states and have developed some of the world class cities,but if we see the condition of underprivileged and downtrodden,the condition is worst.They can expend money on building the city park and film city like the flood, but they don't have the money for the poor farmers.Really India is divided in two parts-one is that of the prosperous and affluent one and other is that of the poor farmers,who live in village.

Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 13:08 IST

The so called Marathi parties like the Shiv Sena, MNS & the NCP are all deaf to this worsening situation in the state of Maharashtra. All they care is to beat the poor autorickshaw walas in Mumbai for some cheap publicity. do they really care about the marathi people?

from:  Abhijeet Srivastav
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 13:00 IST

As a Maharashtrian, I feel very sad and depressed.

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 12:50 IST

let us leave aside the petty party politics for once and look into the problems of Indian Agriculture. The major crop of these 5 regions is Cotton which is most affected by the erratic behaviour of monsoons. Besides the lands in these regions are too fragmented and dependence upon stochastic dryland farming is too much. Hence, instead of again looking into what government did what, we should look for the administrative reforms in the agriculture.

from:  Rishav Gupta
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 12:23 IST

Inevitably, rapid economic growth causes marginalisation of segments of people. It is at this instance, good governance has to be in place. Good governance will always seek ways to mitigate the harshest repercussions that economic growth brings on marginalized segments of the people. Industrial development half a century ago in the countries of Scandinavia brought harsh impact on the farmers of those countries. In remedying the situation the responsible authorities sought to implement programmes to rehabilitate these communities by introducing alternative programmes for the farmers by providing them opportunities to develop agro-industries and thus guarantee sources of income. To ignore and abandon the people who become marginalised in the process of industrial development is highly ignoble. Concerned public sector authorities should take measures to reintegrate the marginalised groups into mainstream of the economy by developing alternative opportunities (i.e. agro-industries).

from:  Prof. J.A. Karunaratne
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 11:52 IST

In an economy still supported by agriculture to the largest extent, this is indeed a statistic of shame. But there is a great dilemma of how to secure these farmers along with development...let's see how much more time is needed by the government..or people, as whole, to find a solution...

from:  shreya
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 11:43 IST

Agriculture is in distress and rainfed or dryland agriculture without assured irrigation is more so. Our studies show that large investments even under projects like watershed development cannot keep farmers and over 50% of land parcels within treated watersheds lie fallow. This is a direct waste of investments. Even MNREGS is not able to keep rural people in village because wages are low. In Telengana region, able bodied men have moved to Hyderabad and the remaining folks - women, old and infirm go for MNREGS work. Even marginal,small and medium farmers with land holdings of <1 to 4 ha opt to work in MNREGS rather than till their own land. A major reason for this is the low procurement price for the agricultural produce. The Govt must increase the MSP of all produce in order to remove rural poverty. If you give farmers a higher price for their effort, where will rural poverty be ?

from:  Kaushalya
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 11:24 IST

The article and the statistics though gravely sad for National honor; is a well deserved compliment to the mafia leaders and looters in charge of food and agriculture in Congress Governments.

from:  Jagannathan Narayanasamy
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 10:26 IST

DONT MISS THE CENTRAL POINT. The 'top 5' states - Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - are ruled by CONGRESS OR BJP. This is the state of the nation(al parties) Oh! yes, national channels are busy debating how Mayawati can ignore encephalitis deaths and build statues. NO, NO, NO, I won't talk about caste.

from:  Raghuraman R
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 09:02 IST

The state has the highest land value at Mumbai and other cities in Maharashtra but the land of the farmers of the state has become a cause of death for 2,50,000 farmers over 16 years. Cricket matches, mega movies, shopping malls and millions of latest vehicles highlight the affluence and the ability to pay - of the state where at the bottom line a quarter million committed suicides declaring the poverty and the inability to live- in the same state. Is there any government or is the government only for the affluent or what is happening even after 64 years of freedom in the state? Another Mahatma is the need of the hour for a second war of independence from the domestic enemies.

from:  Ramachandran
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 07:22 IST
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