The article “How to be an ‘eligible suicide'” (May 13) gave an excellent account of how governments twist facts for survival. It would be suicidal for the government to publish the NCRB figures. Various organisations like the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti tracking farm suicides have already expressed strong objections to the Central government's claim on the numbers.
The government's attitude towards the Vidarbha farmers is surprising. Their plight would have been mitigated had they been provided an interest waiver after subsequent crop failures with food security and health facilities for the critically ill members of their families. The government failed to give even free fodder and potable water to this distressed community.
The article reminds me of the adage “confuse, if you cannot convince.” Ministers and the media who respond swiftly to the happenings in the IPL, variations in the Sensex, etc., maintain a stoic silence when it comes to farm suicides. They remember the farmers only in the run-up to the elections. The number of farm suicides should send a chill down our spine. But ours is a country where the Ministers are more interested in cricket.
The deliberate measures taken by the authorities to cover up the number of farm suicides by classifying them as ‘eligible' and ‘ineligible' are shameful and disturbing. With the increase in the number of people quitting farming, the future of agriculture looks bleak.
A statistical analysis of suicide data makes little sense if follow-up measures to address the causes are not taken. It is a mockery of social justice to create ‘eligible' and ‘ineligible' categories of suicides and, worse, debate the issue in Parliament. The need of the hour is to treat the families of the victims with sympathy and provide them immediate relief. Farm loan waivers and provision of food security should be the top priority.
The right to life is a fundamental right and the state is expected to ensure that all its citizens enjoy it. But the government has no concern for the lives of poor farmers. ‘Kill yourself but intelligently if you want us to value your death' is the message it intends to convey. The question that needs serious examination is not ‘how many' but ‘why' farm suicides.
P. Sainath's exposure of the utter contempt with which the powers-that-be treat even the dead would shake the conscience of every reader. Farmers end their lives betrayed by the state and battered by its policies. Even their faint hope that their families will get some paltry compensation from the government stands shattered.
The government must own up its follies and give up its attempts to show a ‘decline' in the number of farm suicides. It should meet the challenge with proactive policy measures.
Notwithstanding what our leaders claim, farm suicides continue unabated. The other worrying factor is that more and more farmers are quitting agriculture. Rather than waiving farm loans, provision of and access to cheap institutional credit for capital and working expenses should be made a farmers' right without difficult paperwork. All this and more is possible provided the leaders take agriculture and related problems more seriously.
R. Unni Krishnan,
The article reminded me of the story of six blind men describing an elephant. The only difference is that the political class is determined to obfuscate the truth. If it is genuinely interested in mitigating the plight of farmers, it should provide cheap farm loans, ensure an uninterrupted supply of seeds and fertilizers, and provide a decent support price for farm produce.
Syed Sultan Mohiddin,