Farmer Suicide: The Disturbing Trend | Click Here to Read in Punjabi
Punjab has been championed by India as a success story of the Green Revolution. However, a closer look into the political economy of the Green Revolution reveals that the corporate takeover of Punjab agricultural resulted in the adoption of unsustainable economic models. These models in the short run produced astounding profits but in the long run left Punjab with a damaged environment and farmers stuck with economic and social hardships.
Presently, the repercussions of negligible agrarian policies and economic mismanagement in Punjab by the Central Government are being felt in the form of rising farmer suicides. Farmers have been increasingly turning to suicide in order to escape the financial burdens imposed on them and their families. A study recently published by Inderjit Singh Jaijee of MASR and Baba Nanak Education Fund found from 1988 to 2007 that 91 villages ofthe Munak and Lehra areas of Sangur Districs had 1508 debt related farmer suicides. It is important to note that there are more than 12 400 villages in Punjab. These numbers area stark contrast from figures put forth by the Punjab Police who reported 7 such deaths from 2000 to 2007 and the Punjab Revenue department who reported 132 deaths from 2002-2007.
This stark contrast reinforces the fact that the government systematically attempts to hide the facts on farmer suicides in order to avoid embarrassment and condemnation of the true implications of the “Green Revolution.” Ultimately, Punjab suffers under these policies not only economically and environmentally but also socially considering the implications of the families left without a husband, father, brother and son.
The report by Inderjit Singh Jaijee focuses on rising costs which need to be financed by loans as the main source of the financial burden that farmers face. These loans are being given at high interest rates and unfortunately due to extensive irrigation, monoculture and the central government setting the price of crops too low, farmers are not being able to cover costs. The report goes on to estimate a total of 50 000 total debt related suicides while the Bhartiya Kisan Union estimates 90 000.
Clearly more work needs to be done beyond bringing awareness to this issue. We at the Sikh Activist Network salute the efforts of Baba Nanak Education fund who is actively sponsoring families and providing empirical evidence backed by academic research that further highlights the true nature of the green revolution despite attempts by the government to cover up the issue.
The organization also has a program that actively adopts families who have had a family member commit suicide and provides them with practical education to help them overcome some of the barriers they face. You can visit their website here http://www.bnespunjab.org/.
If you want to get involved in this cause please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and in the subject line put Farmer’s Initiatives. We are looking for volunteers to get involved in this initiative.
Below are copies of two letters sent to the President of India and Speaker of the Lokh Sabha in New Delhi, in hopes of drawing serious attention to Farmer Suicides and startling new data found in Punjab.
The data provided above can be attributed to the research and data collection provided in these two documents.