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July 31, 2006

The Other India


100,000 Farmer Suicides

"The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti has put up a blog as part of its campaign for statehood for Vidarbha as also the continuing farmers' suicides. Amongst other things there is a list of names of 655 farmers who have committed suicide since June 2005. A group of farmers is planning a march to Delhi on 15 August.

Imagine such a large number of people committing suicide in any other profession - say, in the BPO industry - and imagine our response. It would be frontpage news in all national papers. It would occupy far more air time than on TV than what the continuing agricultural crisis in Vidarbha and Telangana is currently getting. There would be dedicated "campaigns" and people across the country would be sending money to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. Ordinary people would come out to their rescue, companies would announce relocation packages.

Between 1993 and 2003, a hundred thousand farmers in India have killed themselves, largely due to debt. Whether it is state control and lack of competition or the lessening of state support to agriculture that has caused the crisis is open for the ideological jury. What cannot be disputed is that it is a national shame and deserves far more attention from all of us.

There is a lot to talk about what's happening in Vidarbha, and a lot is controversial. Bt Cotton, cotton subsidies in the west, the reduction of minimum support price by the government, the government's suicide compensation as an incentive to commit suicide, the state control over agriculture [...] Whatever the reasons and debates be, the suicides must stop, and they must stop now. I urge those of you in the media to give the subject a lot more attention, and bloggers and writers to write about it. Also see The Other India" [posted by Shivam Vij on Sarai]

Posted by jo at July 31, 2006 03:05 PM