By Amit Chamaria
22 September, 2006
a significant attention specially the PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh's
attention towards Vidarbha district of Maharashtra is a welcome sign
but of the consequences of unpleasant incidents. Obviously, not only
the farmers of Maharashtra but the farmers of all states of India are
under distress. But the problem of farmer suicides in Maharashtra has
acquired the greater length. The number of suicides particularly, in
Maharashtra has risen from1083 in 1995 to 4,147 in 2004.However recent
announcement of relief package worth of rupees 3750 corers by the Prime
Minister to solving the egregious condition of farmers has compelled
to do a comprehensive debate by raising the question that-"Is this
relief package a satisfactory solution of the problem of farmer suicide?"
Now, it is essential to understand
the social analysis of suicide as a social problem. In this situation
the significant work of Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist can't be
forgotten. As per Durkheim's view simply, 'suicide' means 'self destruction'.
But it reveals something lots. At least after the serial suicidal death
of Vidarbha's farmers, it didn't remain confine to merely 'self destruction'-the
simple means of suicide. If we go by Durkheim, suicide is a social fact
and not simply an individual act but a product of social forces external
to the individual. In fact, He rejects the various extra social factors
such as heredity, climate, mental alienation, racial characteristics
and imitation as the cause of suicide. Even 'Poverty' - the most general
cause of suicide, as presented by media and politicians behind the every
case of suicide, has been utterly rebutted by him. He, for simple understanding,
argues that the greater the integration of individuals within the social
group the less likely they are to commit suicide.
Apparently, one thing must
be raised in our mind that why Durkheim negates poverty as one of the
causes of suicide. If we believe at least some amount on a survey report
conducted by the agency of the Govt. of India that reveals most developed
states have more suicide rate as compared to the most backward states.
In 2001, Maharashtra (14618), Karnataka (11881), Tamil Nadu (11290),
Andhra Pradesh (10522) have highest suicide rates respectively. On the
other hand all tribal dominated states like Arunachal Pradesh (111),
Manipur (41), Mizorum (54), Sikkim (94), and the most backward states
like Bihar (603) and Jharkand (250) have very less suicide rate. The
place Kalahandi in Orissa at one time was the center of attention in
media only because of serial deaths of persons and children due to hungry
and malnutrition respectively. But it is quiet surprising that no suicide
case was reported from Kalahandi at that time.
In addition to this, as per the ' Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers'
conducted by National Sample Survey Organisation in 2003, the average
monthly income (excluding rent, interest, dividend etc.) from all sources
per farmer household ranged from Rs.1, 062.00 in the state of Orissa
to Rs. 5,488.00 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir during the agriculture
year of 2002 -03 and the all India average are Rs.2, 115.00.
To compare the average monthly income of per farmer household in Maharashtra
(Rs.2, 463.00) and Gujarat (Rs.2, 684.00) from backward states like
Bihar (Rs.1, 810.00), Orissa (1,062), Rajasthan (Rs. 1,498) and Madhya
Pradesh (1,430.00), it can be easily revealed that lower monthly income
is not a causative factor of suicide. By analyzing these statements
it can be said that Durkheim is very close to the truth.
Then, what are the causes
of farmer suicides?
According to him, this kind
of suicide falls within the purview of 'Anomic Suicide' - one of the
classifications of suicide. In fact, anomic suicide results from normlessness
or deregulation in society. Although this kind of suicide occurs during
industrial and financial crises, it is not because they cause poverty,
since crises of prosperity have the same result but because they are
crises of the collective order. If poverty and starvation are really
the adequate causes of suicide then the suicide rate in all backward
and northeastern states should have been high but it is not. Further
he says that poverty protects against suicide because it is a restraint
itself. The less one has the less he is tempted to extend the range
of his needs. Sociologically, the incident of farmer suicides in Punjab,
Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra due to indebtedness is actually the
result of the combined effect of 'Relative deprivation' and 'Sudden
crises', which came in the category of anomic suicide. Significantly,
the feelings of relative deprivation are the outcome of the first green
revolution and these feelings has been augmented by the present market
policy of Globalization. And it is one of the major drawbacks of the
first green revolution. One thing that is essentially noticeable that
mainly middle class peasants have committed suicide in that the effect
of relative deprivation has fallen greater on them. The big achievement
of the first green revolution was the enhancement of crops only by quantitatively
Now, what should be the
solutions of this menace? There are certain measures that should be
adopted while formulating the new agriculture policy. Firstly, it is
essential to provide better irrigation system and adequate rural infrastructure.
So for better farming, farmers should be self-dependent and it can be
achieved by maximizing the expenditure on irrigation and other basic
facilities. Ironically, India has yet only one rural management institute
IRMA after the 57 years of independence though major part of GDP depends
on agriculture. Secondly, the causes should be found out that compel
the farmers to taking debt either from moneylender or private and govt.
banks. Essentially, farmers take debt mainly for boring well and for
purchasing seeds and fertilizers.
So govt. should provide adequate
irrigation system without disturbing the ecological cycle and a training
camp must be organized in various places to provide the knowledge of
rain harvesting system. And a comprehensive seed policy should be formulated
but not under the pressure of WTO so that farmers could easily get seeds
from their own product. The role of moneylender should be the least
and in this place co-operative bank come should forward. One thing that
is the most vital solution to the distress of farmers is to provide
a better market without the intervention of mediators. A policy-"farmer's
approach to market directly" should be adopted. But market should
not be under the control of MNCs and some big business elites. The concept
of market must be based on co-operative principle. Apparently the cotton
cultivators committed suicide due to lack of proper market. Undoubtedly
agriculture is the biggest source of employment generation. But the
employment in agriculture is reducing gradually in accompanying with
green revolution and increase in agricultural technology. Significantly
the rate of development of employment in agriculture sector has reduced
to 0.18 in 1994 from 2.17 in 1988, according to national sample survey
report. The people are leaving off the practice of cultivation day by
day. The situation of our agriculture will be improved only and only
when people come forward for farming with their own pleasure but not
as perfunctory. If the second green revolution would be the offshoot
of the first green revolution then there is no need of second green
revolution because we all have seen the aftermaths of first green revolution.
Now it is time to frame a comprehensive policy for the development of
sustainable agriculture with considering the every pros and cons in
Indian perspective. A policy should be for "Aam Kisan" in
that they are the real cultivators.
is a freelance journalist.He has done PG in Sociology From PU.
Ph: - 9868457198