Friday, August 7, 2015

Farmer's Suicide: Letting Hang Themselves.

Everyday there is news of farmers committing suicide these days as always been every year all over India, Karnataka State being one of the top in it. Heavy burden of loan borrowed which at times with 200% interest from the private money lender, loss of crop due to natural calamities, and falling prices of agricultural produce which is at times erratic and the exploitation by the Mill owners are reported to be some of the causes in recent times for the occurrence of farmer's  suicide. A Government Policy that offers government loan at nominal interest that is deducted in convenient instalment say 10% of the annual produce, agricultural crisis fund in times of calamities, a stable and assured minimum commodities price, and minimising the role of middlemen operating often with the support of politicians and bureaucrats exploiting farmer, would mitigate the situation and stop and prevent suicide.

However, all those who suffer those causes would not commit suicide. Hence, there ought to be other reasons in addition to the stated above associated with their suicide, and they are mostly psychosocial. Often, suicide is preceded by mental depression characterised by a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and inadequacy resulting in feelings of sadness, lack of self confidence and perceived or actual lack of social support. Further, such feelings are often the outcome of extreme and exclusive dependence on a person, or an economic or social support which although initially benefits the victim enormously that results in further clinging to it but eventually, when there is an actual or imagined loss of those on which he has been dependent ( loss of 'object'), depression breaks out. Often, the people in the family would encourage initially and even inadvertently such a dependence either to take control the person involved or to overcome their own emotional insecurity. It is only in such people when they are faced with the aforesaid debt, loss of crop or drop in prices occur, they would become vulnerable to suicide. Awareness of these factors among the significant others of the victim and a family counselling with additional counselling centres in the community would help prevent suicide.

There is yet another deeper affliction plaguing the farmers: the ills of so called 'modernity' or 'development'. Our farmers are alienated from their true nature and are made to be dependent on others, often on the middlemen, for their livelihood which is the bane of modern civilisation. I was born and brought up in an agricultural joint family in a village. Not too long ago, in the 1940s and early 1950s, the village life was different, farmers were far more independent, self reliant and brimming with pride of self-governance. The seeds were procured from their own crops and manure was prepared from their own cattle and leaves of trees around. I still remember how naturally, organically and with least effort manure was prepared: a layer of cow dung in a pit topped with leaves brought from the forest in the backyard, and such several layers of leaves and twigs, each layer topped with cow dung would form over the period excellent, healthy and nourishing manure for the crops. They would harvest the crop and take to the market by bullock cart all by themselves and sell the produce, no middlemen anywhere. They were the master of themselves. What is the situation today? They have to buy seeds from the corporation often waiting in a long queue, as their own seeds from the crop is not suitable for resowing owing to heavy dose of chemical manure administered to the crops. Manure they have to procure from the corporations often at the mercy of multinationals and the manure they get is of harmful chemicals that would weaken the richness of crops as well as the earth over the period. Once, it so happened that there was no supply of chemical fertilisers as the chemicals imported by a multinational firm abroad has not been paid by the Government and hence it had stopped the supply. Farmers were left with no alternative but to delay and suffer loss in their product. Produce of the harvest is again controlled by the marketing agents, governmental or otherwise, who would take away the produce, sell it at their command and give farmers only a portion of what the agent gets. Prices are determined by process totally alien to the farmers. Today's farmers are disempowered and disabled, loosing all autonomy and self-governance, totally dependent on others at every stage of their agriculture.

It is the farmers who nurture and sustain our lives and the health of the nation depends on them. Now, they are made to suffer indignities and yet we expect them to save us. The autonomy and self governance need to be restored to our farmers, their exploiting middlemen, they be governmental or otherwise, must be eliminated, and they must be empowered and enabled by providing all the harmless modern technology and arranging training in those methods by the government. Enabling farmers to do it for and by themselves without any spoon feeding is the real empowerment that would restore their dignity. This way, farmers can realise that they are as better off as their counterpart in the cities, better off as any industrialist anywhere. A dream of our late A P J Abdul Kalam is to provide urban facilities to rural areas (PURA), and when that happens, our villages retain their vibrant life and their would be no exodus to cities as they can earn as much and enjoy as much as the city dwellers. 

No comments: