The Tragedy of Farmers’ Suicides in Vidarbha:

Topics: Suicide, Maharashtra, Vidarbha Pages: 6 (1915 words) Published: November 4, 2010
THE GRAVITY OF THE PROBLEM AND BACKDROP

This section deals with the entire issue in general. What is the problem? Where is problem enacted?

2.1 WHAT DO THE SUICIDE STATISTICS SAY? IS THERE AN ISSUE?

Is the scenario of suicides as bleak as it is made out to be in the press? Some of the data reflected in the YASHADA study report compels us to think that the suicide problem in Vidarbha region is not as grim as is the case in Kerala. What do the actual numbers show? The following table, constructed from figures reflected in the YASHADA report, drives a point in respect of the Suicide Mortality Rate (SMR) {which is average no of suicides for one lack of population per year} of some relevant re rate figures for different areas which stands for the.

|Region |SMR | |Maharashtra average |14 | |National average |10 | |Kerala average |33 | |Western developed countries |20 to 40 |

The figures point out that the figure for Maharashtra is certainly greater than the national average, however the alarm bells should be ringing more loudly in Kerala and in other advanced nations of the world than in Maharashtra and that too by a wide margin. There seems to be an even graver reason in these areas which therefore needs even more serious consideration… As far as Maharashtra goes from these figures it appears as if the issue has been bought into focus out of turn and we could list a few possible causes for this. a) Political activists are milking the issue of Vidarbha regionalism to generate an emotive issue that can make a difference in the political sphere. They are hence playing the suicide card to the hilt. b) The farmers want themselves heard since they have some genuine problems. The discussion of the suicide trends is helping to bring the issue to centre stage. c) Now that money is being doled out to suicide affected families, there is a distinct possibility that normal suicides would be given a color of ‘farmer suicide’. d) Is it a case of improved reporting to the police with the coming of better technology? e) The media has found an emotive issue to highlight.

This makes us ask the question: are all these factors together fanning hype? Hype it definitely is but it is not based on nothing. ANOTHER REALITY DOES RING ALARM BELLS. The study conducted by Srijit Mishra (IGIDR) is comprehensive on the trends in suicide patterns over the decade 1995 to 2005. It has found that the number of suicides of men increased by around 3000 heads (from 6882 to 9903 cases … page 40) and in the same period the increase in farmer deaths in particular went up by around the same figure (from 978 to 3799… page 49) meaning that the increase in the over all figures is almost totally on account of the increase in the number of farmer suicides. As the report states it, the increase of Farmer suicides in that period is close to 300%. In other words, there is an abnormally high increase in the cases of farmer-suicides. This effect should have a cause. There must be some added pressure on the farmer (a large one at that) which is causing this effect. There must be some major issues in the Indian hinterland which need to be looked into. We shall presently go into that but first of all there is a point to be made regarding the people who are involved and have a stake in the farmers’ condition… It should give us an idea of the gravity and depth of the problem… and it does surprise one that there are so many stake holders in all.

2.2 THE STAKE HOLDERS

Though our study is limited to the persons interviewed in the Vidarbha area, the observations drawn during the course of the study also lead us to include other stake holders who might not be directly...
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