Indian agriculture has been grappling with loss-making propositions like fragmented land holdings, depleting water table levels, deteriorating soil quality, skyrocketing input costs and low yields. Haunted by debt, small and marginal farmers are committing suicide: without credible collateral for loans from public sector lending institutions, they are forced to borrow money at exorbitant rates from moneylenders. Tragically, as India rises to the top slot among global economies, the number of farmers killing themselves every year is rising. In 2015, over 13,000 farmers took their lives. Maharashtra topped the list with 433 deaths, followed by Karnataka (1,569), Madhya Pradesh (13,000), Tamil Nadu (606) and Rajasthan (373).
The Indian farmer, once a rallying election symbol for many political parties, has lost his clout and voice with the political establishment. He is the orphan of growth in an elitist mindset. His voice is drowned in the coveting cacophony of pro-market lobbyists who have captured all levers of the establishment. Ministers, top civil servants and opinion makers rub shoulders at seminars organised by CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and foreign-funded economic think tanks, where they wax eloquent about corporate concessions while recommending withdrawal of subsidies for the poor.
published by Indian Express column by Prabhu Chawla