Maharashtra has done it again. Only this time it broke all the previous records and hit an all time low (not high) with the highest number of suicides in a year – an unfortunate 3228 suicides a year i.e. 6 suicides everyday.
The government in it’s response to this annual ritual of suicides, has yet again, opted for the standard procedure of operation from the book “How to respond to farmer suicides, a Dummies guide book?“. The details of the procedure include
- constituted a committee to look into the crisis – who mostly work in their office rooms or cubicles but not necessarily talk to the farmers
- announced compensation packages – no accountability of whether these compensations ever reach the recipients
- announced loan waivers – loan waivers are mostly for the banks and the middle men
- announced de-addiction – identified as one of the major reasons for farmer suicides, quite convinient
- announced community marriages – since taking loans for marriages is adding up to the crisis, community marriages are the way to go and not responding to the underlying crisis
I’m not saying the government that it just copied everything straight out of the book. It did do some work.
- It came up with a price tag for every suicide
- It came up with the names of ‘new’ schemes
- It came up with lot of paper work to support their work
- It hosted press releases announcing these grand schemes
- It placed Ads to create awareness about these schemes
Sarcasm aside, the farmer suicide deaths, year after year, are sending a very strong message about the current agrarian crisis. The farmers buried deep down in the grave and the farmers who managed to keep themselves above the grave, are condemning the farming practices, the lack of infrastructure support, the lack of Minimum Support prices and shouting on top of their lungs that there is a need to shift to food crops, a need to stop cash crops, a need to do multi cropping, a need to stop chemical based farming, a need for an income security, a need for community based marketing and a need for technology to make access farming produce more easier.
The farming crisis is not a crisis concerning the farmers. It also should concern us, the citizens who benefit from the farming. The suicide deaths and the horrifying statistics are not hidden from us. If we just chose to remain silent spectators, then there is no difference between us and the government authorities.
Let’s question ourselves?
- Lets start from the lowest levels – Our municipalities, our MLA’s, our MP’s. Why are we letting them get away for their inefficiencies and irresponsibility? Remember we don’t ask, they don’t tell. Why are they being felicitated instead of being held accountable?
- What are we doing to highlight the crisis that is unfolding right in front of our eyes?
- Why are the farming suicides not part of the debates, discussions and concrete actions?
- Why can’t we demand for a Zero Farmer Suicides in every district and every state in the next year?
- Why is it that Mere Desh Ki Darthi, the only song on farmers in all these years of Indian Cinema? Why is farming left out of even the arts and culture of our society?
- If these numbers don’t alarm us, then nothing else will. So let’s ask ourselves, what can be done and how?
- Why are our celebrations in the name of culture and traditions don’t feature farmers?
Let’s take a pledge
The below information is official information sourced from Rajyasabha.nic.in
According to the State Government of Maharashtra out of these 3228 cases
- 1841 cases are eligible for ex-gratia payment
- 903 cases are ineligible
- 484 cases are pending enquiry.
Rs. 1 lakh has been given to the heirs in respect of 1818 suicide cases
Prevention of farmer suicides
The Government of Maharashtra is implementing various schemes for prevention of farmer suicides due to agrarian distress.
- waiver of interest on crop loans
- constructions of check dams
- improved seed distribution to farmers
- crop insurance, etc.
- “Krishi Samruddhi Scheme”
- Taking short term and long term measures for tackling the drought situation.
- “Baliraja Chetna Abhiyan Scheme”
- the District Committee headed by the Collector has Rs.10 crore per year at its disposal to take up awareness campaign, health counselling,
- revival of social support system,
- Bhajan, Kirtan Mandals,
- community marriages etc. to reduce the distress level of farmer families.
- The village level committees, headed by sarpanch has Rs. 1 lakh per year at its disposal to help the farmers families in situations like meeting health expenses, educational expenses, loan installment etc. which cause acute financial distress.
- “Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission”.
- the State Government of Maharashtra is restructuring the various schemes to prevent farmers’ suicides in the State.