Two cotton farmers from the Yavatmall district in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra committed suicide on the day President Pranab Mukherjee visited the region. The deaths of these two farmers, Prashant Sidhewar, 25 and Ramkrishnna Pandurang Kathale, 32, pushes the number of farmer suicide in this year to 176. To put this into perspective at least one farmer ends his life and becomes a part of this chilling statistics. If this doesn’t affect you then consider this – between 1995 to 2011, 270,940 farmers committed suicide in the country and every fifth of them, 53818, was from Maharashtra.
It will surprise you to know that the farmers who kill themselves are not under huge debts, by current standards. Ramakrishna for instance, had take a loan of Rs 40,000 which slowly turned into Rs 1.2 lakhs. The question now arises is, even after tall claims of farm subsidies and loan waivers, if a farmer has to kill himself, is something not very wrong with this whole system? The Indian farmer has always been very resilient, weathering nature as well as market without much support from anyone. So one can only imagine how desolate Ramakrishna must have been to have widowed his wife and orphaned two children. The other victim, I call a victim because I strongly believe that the system killed him, was the only son of his parents.
Much has been written about why farmers are committing suicide in Maharashtra. It is often said that the GM cotton, rising costs, falling crops and government’s inability to provide a minimum support price for cotton have been the culprit. However, not much seems to have been done to provide a support system for these cotton growers to fall back on and fight another day. No one seems to bother, now the politicians have even stopped paying a lip service to the dead. It surprises me to see the farmers in Vidarbha still content with being self destructive while their counterparts in other parts of India picked up guns and became outlaws. Will the apathy of the government machinary and the privilaged ones, make Vidarbha another hot bed of Naxalism ?
What makes the irnoy even starker is that the Agriculture Minister of the Union Government of India, Sharad Pawar, is from Maharashtra, it may be another thing that he is more handy with political batting in BCCI than bowling for the poor farmers. We also have his charitable nephew, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra who is willing to pee in the reservoirs if it can help the people reeling under draught. Inspite of these selfless souls in the corridors of power farmers coninue to die. I am not even mentioning the great saviors of the Marathi asmita, the Thakareys who conviniently forget that Vidarbha is a part of Maharashtra too.
Well the Deputy CM has not peed yet. As I write this, Vidarbha is bracing for another onslaught of draught and yet another spate of suicides. The Khadis are going to be smeared in farmers’ blood again. Some of that blood will wear off on our hands too…
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