He returned home after a long day of work in the scorching heat of vidharbha. With rain gods showing no mercy, with bank loans getting more and more difficult, with money lenders raising the interest rates higher and higher, with market prices going lower and lower, he is finding it hard to make the ends meet. Nevertheless, he returns home at the end of the day, has a modest dinner with his family of 2 children and his wife and goes to sleep. Only this time, he didn’t wake up in the morning. He slept for good. He committed suicide, not able to withstand the growing financial crisis, he ended his life, the only way he could think of coming out of the situation.
The farmer’s wife may have seen this coming, how could she not have ? After all this was the current phenomenon in vidarbha – the farmers suicide capital of India. It’s very sad but it’s true. In the month of January 2013 alone about 17 farmers committed suicide. She was living in fear every day. A fear that she wouldn’t see her husband once he left the house in the morning, a fear that she would hear the bad news, a fear that her kids would loose their father, a fear that she would loose her companion. Day in and day out, she would live with this fear.
And one day her worst fears came true. The reality hit her hard. From the money lenders to the loan officers to the school fees for the kids to running the household everything was her and only her responsibility. She still had the option of choosing the path her husband choose as an obedient wife, but she didn’t. Instead she choose to take things head on, deal with them, fight with them, win over them and continue with life. Not because she wanted to but because she had to.
Victims by design
The above is purely my imagination of how the situations would have unraveled itself, but the reality is not too far off and it’s tragically very dramatic as well. The widows or the “Farm Widows of Vidarbha” are victims of a bad system where only the corrupt, the powerful can thrive, for others it simply is a matter of survival. But i think it’s unfair to call them simply widows and look at them with sympathy. To me, they are no less than the warriors who fight every enemy in the battle field till their last breath, to me they are the “Brave Hearts of Vidarbha“, because no matter what challenges life throws at them, they face it, they fight it and they win it. A humble salute to all those brave hearts.
Our response as a society:
Vidarbha and suicides are often mentioned in the same sentence, an indication of how severe the problem is. The farmer has been reduced to a pauper, the farmer who produces the food cannot afford the same food for him and his family. Yes, the government needs to get it’s act together, yes the banks need to revisit their loan policies, yes the money lenders need to be sorted out, but what about us, the society, who eat the food the farmers produce. There is an obligation towards them. And as part of that obligation, let’s do the best we can. It could be
- Engage with the government
- Engage with self help groups, work with NGO’s to alleviate their drudgery
- Donate time and effort in taking their cause forward
- Donate money to provide temporary and/or permanent solutions for their problems
On similar lines, with the help of all my friends, we have taken up a initiative to support 10 such brave hearts to provide temporary relief. So far 80,000 rupees has been sent to support 4 such families that are victims to this gross negligence and outright injustice. Another 1,20,000 needs to be raised to support 6 other families.
Need to raise $1500 as of Feb 05/2013 and still 2 mor weeks to go …
But this is just the beginning ..