The data are based on the analysis done on farm suicides by K. Nagaraj of the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS). Professor Nagaraj has carried out the above analysis using the data with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), and Ministry of Home Affairs, from 1997 to 2005. ‘Professor Nagaraj’s study shows that of the almost 150,000 farm suicides in India between 1997 and 2005, over 89,000 occurred in just four States: Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh)’, says Sainath (2007:p 13). Importantly, Maharashtra accounts for a third of all farm suicides within these Big Four States. “This State,” says Professor Nagaraj, “could be called “the graveyard yard of the farmers” In terms of percentage; Andhra Pradesh saw more than 127 per cent of farmer suicides during the same period.
The above data show that there existed a high annual compound growth rate of suicides both for Andhra Pradesh (7.6%) and Maharashtra (13.7%). It also indicates that if current conditions continue to prevail next six years, these percentages might double.
Four important reasons could be diagnosed for such high percentage of suicides. i. Debt –trap ii. Crop failure iii. Lack of support price from the Government, and iv. Government’s apathy towards agricultural sector (Sainath, 2007).
As a result of these four major causes, many side effects of distress flowed in: the health of the farmers and their families got affected, farmers couldn’t discharge their family responsibilities like performing the marriages of their children, massive migrations started from their villages to urban centers to work as construction workers, the overnight turned into child-laborers throwing their education to winds at once. According to National Sample Survey’s situational report on farmer households, the average expenditure of farm households is rupees 17 a month (less than half the exchange value of a dollar in Indian currency. A USD is equal to nearly 39 rupees currently). The wages of the agricultural laborer had not gone up beyond a US dollar (rupees 39-40) in a decade which led to a situation where India had fallen from the 124th to 128th position in the world human development index in the last 15 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List of countries by Human Development Index).
According to Sainath (2008), in the post globalization, about 82% farm households landed in the debt trap. The state is withdrawing from its investment into agriculture, which was earlier 14.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 5.9% in the recent years. As a result the farming sector’s contribution to nation’s real GDP has gone down from an estimated 3.6 % to 1.5% which result had even horrified the Government presently headed by a noted economist and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Recently, the UNDP representative to India, Maxine Olson, (2007) releasing the UNDP Report on Climate Change, warned India that, “ terms of trade and changing rainfall patterns on account of climate change could result in drops in agricultural productivity, directly affecting 60 per cent of the population, which relied on the farm sector”.
Lack of support price for the farmers’ produce for major crops like rice or paddy, wheat, sugar cane, cotton, corms, Red chilies, Oils, etc or lack of appropriate e-marketing strategies is another issue of concern and a major force for committing the suicides. Amrita Chaudhry’s report (Indian Express, Nov 19, 2007: http://www.indianexpress.com/printerFriendly/240746.html ) brings out live the force behind such suicides more vividly than ever.
Government’s flawed approach to agricultural sector
Further. Government’s apathy, both at the center and at the States, towards the agricultural sector left the entire farming community in the lurch and perennial depravation. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) which came into power in 2004 announced a package –Vidharbha package-- two years later in 2006 (July) for the farmers who committed suicide in Vidharbha, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. (http://pmindia.nic.in/press rel 01jul2k6-1.pdf). It was first ever