Yesterday I happen to attend a lecture delivered by none other than the most talked person in the area of farmer suicide and a grandson of a former president of
Since I read regularly Sainath’s writings I personally expected nothing from his talk! But was great fun and figures which are not often expected from any of talks in the corporate world or even in the government policy circles!
The major issues he raised, however valid to ponder the real Indian’s prosperity (remember not
- The Union Government gave a subsidy of Rs.1,43,000 crore to corporate for more see here the budget documents especially table five (don’t forget to see table 12!).
- Income inequality has gone up tremendously in the last decade than any other period in Indian society since independence.
- Farmers have no control over seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, electricity, water, (note that all theses are controlled by big corporate or government)
- Prior to 1990s the State has mediated the different interests groups in the country.
- In the post 1990s this mediation by the State has declined.
- So his third point was what is good for elite is national interest and this has been excited by the media also.
- Farmer suicide in the last ten years is higher than any other period in the past.
- Farmer suicide is highest among cash crops especially the cotton farmers.
The major cause he said to be believed for mass farmer suicide include skyrocketing input prices, huge cost of healthcare expenditure and due to cash crops (like Cotton).
On the income inequality I have no problem (for more see the labels of inequality in this blog).
So Sainath said that most of the today’s or in the last 10 years farmer’s suicide are because of poor land reform done in the 1960s and 1970s. And this has further created huge amount of distress among people particularly the peasants in the social life.
So the result of this distress is millions of migration. The peasant’s debt has gone up about 48 percent (59th NSSO Report) according to Sainath. Moreover, the peasants migrated to cities for job that did not exist.
What he did not talk about are the following:
- Fragmentation of land holdings and its effects in productivity that further led to ceasing of food grain production.
- Private property rights to farmers including tribals
These are two important areas where one finds less discourse in the public policy debate. Even can you imagine? The private property right was our Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India. Alas, it was removed through the 44th Amendment in the late 70s.