FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Self-Slaughter Every 30 Minutes

There were at least 16,196 farmers’ suicides in India in 2008, bringing the total since 1997 to 199,132, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

The share of the Big 5 States or ‘suicide belt’ in 2008 — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh — remained very high at 10,797, or 66.6 per cent of the total farm suicides in the country. This was marginally higher than it was in 2007 (66.2 per cent). Maharashtra remains the worst state in the nation for farm suicides with a total of 3802. (This is just 40 short of the combined total of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.) The all-India total of 16,196 represents a fall of 436 from 2007. But the broad trends of the past decade reflect no significant change. The national average for farm suicides since 2003 stays at roughly one every 30 minutes.

Within the Big 5, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh recorded higher numbers. The increase of 604 in these three States somewhat offset the dip in Maharashtra (436) and Karnataka (398). But a fall in suicide numbers in other States (for example, a decline of 412 in Kerala and 343 in West Bengal) means that the Big 5 marginally increased their two-thirds share of total farm suicides in 2008.

The NCRB data now cover all States for 12 years from 1997. In the first six years (1997-2002), the Big 5 witnessed 55,769 farmers’ suicides. From 2003 to 2008, they totalled 67,054, a rise of nearly 1900 a year on average.
Maharashtra has logged 41,404 farm suicides from 1997 (over a fifth of the national total) and 44,468 from 1995, the year when this State began recording farm data. No other state comes close. During 1997-2002, Maharashtra saw, on average, eight farmers kill themselves daily. The corresponding figure rose to 11 during 2003-2008. The rise was from an average of 2,833 farm suicides a year in the first period to an average of 4,067 in the next period.

Professor K. Nagaraj, an economist who has worked at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, says of the NCRB data: “There is hardly any decline in the suicide belt, though individual States may show variations across 12 years. If this is the state for 2008, the year of the Rs. 70,000 crore [1 crore = 10 million] loan waiver and multiple farm packages, then 2009, a drought year, could show very disturbing figures. The underlying agrarian problems seem as acute as ever.”

P. SAINATH is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu, where this piece appears, and is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought. He can be reached at: psainath@vsnl.com

More articles by:

P Sainath is the founder and editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India. He has been a rural reporter for decades and is the author of ‘Everybody Loves a Good Drought.’ You can contact the author here: @PSainath_org

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail