He, who reaps the harvest, shall not die
Let him out of the agony, we must try
He, who nurtures the land, shall not suicide
Remunerate him fair, we must abide
Supply water, his farm shall not wither
Fulsome, the produce he must garner…..
How is it fair that the one, who harvests the food we eat, dies because of lack of food and sustenance? Farmers in India are resorting to suicides due to indebtedness and crop failure. As per National Crime Records Bureau, 5560 farmers committed suicide in 2014, out of which 2568 were from Maharashtra alone. The state recorded a grim number of 3228 suicides in 2015, reports Hindu. Drought has drastically affected Maharashtra and farmers commit suicides, as they are unable to aid their families.
I raised this question when I wrote about India’s Hunger Story and I would ask again. How does one justify the economic growth when certain groups of society are dying due to deprivation of basic necessities? Is it not disgraceful for the nation? If there can be Special Economic Zones, then there is an urgent need for Special Agricultural Zones as well. Agricultural sector needs to be organised and there is an exigency for elimination of intermediaries. I cannot understand why our government (current or former) lacks in proper management of rainwater harvesting or storage.
There are numerous schemes like Drought-Prone Area Programme, Indira Aawas Yojana, Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana amongst others to assist the rural populations. However, if such worrisome is the agrarian state of our country, revamping of these schemes is the need of the hour. As per the budget of 2015-16, planned outlay for rural development is INR 71,642 crore. In addition, for agriculture programmes exclusively, the budget allocation is INR 5845.45 crore. If the troubled plight of farmers continues, we all know the reason could only be non-judicious use of funds!
IndianExpress published an article on Marathwada (Maharashtra) recently, it quotes Marathwada as the suicide capital of farmers. It features an interview with a farmer who mentions, that from 10 years ago, there is only a marginal increase in the price he gets for his produce while the cost of labour and fertilisers have grown manifolds. Even water is not free now, they use paid tankers to water the crops. He unhesitatingly blames the government for importing onions whenever onion price rises in the country. They have lakhs and lakhs of debt to repay with no just price for their yield. Farmers are in distress, they are helpless and they kill themselves, as there is no way out of the webs of polity and financial liabilities.
Farmers are abandoning their farms and migrating to cities with a hope of survival. How does one help them? The veteran actor Nana Patekar actively involved in farmer welfare programs pleads not to consider them as beggars. He suggests that we should adopt a farmer each to provide him with food, water and access to toilets. If you want to help the drought affected farmers and widows of farmers who committed suicide, please make a contribution to NAAM Foundation, started by Nana Patekar in 2015.
I would urge you to not just sympathise, but take actions. If you cannot help them monetarily, make others (who can) aware of the grave situation. Let us compel the government to come up with lasting remedies. Sending gallons of water through trains is okay, but that is just a temporary relief. This would not bring farmers out of the miserable conditions. “Jis Desh ki Dharti sona ugle, ugle heere moti,” that Dharti should not be allowed to lay parched. Drought is here to stay; planned initiatives are required to overcome the disaster. Technological advancements in the field of agriculture is more than necessary. Do not sit comfortably and let that grain go down your throat when the ones who sow those seeds are dying……