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Chhattisgarh’s figure of ‘4’ and Bengal’s non-filing of data stand out in the all-India total of 13,754 farm suicides in 2012. If three-year averages for both States are included, then the national total would be 16,272. That would be the highest farm suicides figure in three years.

Even accepting the truncated numbers, the Big 5 accounted for over 68.4 per cent of all farm suicides in the country in 2012. That is the highest ever since the recording of such data began.

Among other major States, Kerala saw 1,081 such farm deaths, a steep increase of 251 over its 2011 number of 1,830. Uttar Pradesh saw 745 farm suicides — up by 100 over its 2011 figure. Tamil Nadu reported a decline of 123 to log 499. That’s down from 623 the previous year.

Data

The NCRB figures across 18 years for which data exist show that at least 2,84,694 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995. (That is, accepting the non-figures of Chhattisgarh and West Bengal).

Divide that 18 years into two halves and the trend is dismal. India saw 1,38,321 farm suicides between 1995 and 2003 at an annual average of 15,369.

For 2004-12, the number is 1,46,373, at a much higher annual average of 16,264. The figures in the second half occurred against a steep decline in the numbers of farmers in India and are hence even worse than they appear. (See The Hindu: Farmers’ suicide rates soar above the rest, May 18, 2013. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/farmers-suicide-rates-soar-above-the-rest/article4725101.ece )

In short, there is no serious decline or reversal of the major trends in farm suicides in the country. ‘Zero’ declarations, though, are likely to grow by the year as more States feel the need to massage their dismal data or simply not file it.