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India Social Humiliation, Isolation Contributes To Farmers' Suicide


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
ALLAHABAD: The suicide committed by a 45-year-old Sikh-Jat farmer of Punjab (name concealed), was not only because of the debt he owed, but also a change to semi-urban lifestyle coupled with social humiliation and psychological isolation were some of the main causes, which force him to take this extreme step.

A detailed study by psychologist of the Allahabad University has tried to ascertain the reasons behind such unfortunate step taken by many Sikh cultivators, in the last decade.

The study carried out by Prof A Satyanarayan, K Chandraiah and Sanjay has tried to identify various reasons, which could have prompted the farmers, of one of the most prosperous state of the country, to choose suicide as the last resort.

K Chandaiah concluded that the finding of the study would also serve many suggestive measures to be taken by the government and loaning agencies. He said that most importantly the loaning agencies should take drastic steps to change the recovery policy, which should be based more on the season of crop harvesting rather then monthly instalments. It should be more humanistic in approach when dealing with the cultivators. Apart from it, the role of middlemen should be minimised, said Satyanarayan.

Informing about the finding of the study, Prof A Satyanarayan said, Remaining in debt is nothing new for Indian cultivators who has been accustomed to live for ages in this trap, but the incidence of suicide has seldom been reported prior to 1984. Post 1984 has recorded a sudden increase in such incidents in Punjab, which has traditionally been considered as a prosperous state, which indicates that apart from money other factors are also responsible for compelling the cultivator to take this extreme step.

He said, "The findings are based on interaction by 62 families of the farmers who had committed suicide and 50 non suicidal families, between the period from 1994 to 2002. We found that the families of the cultivator, who commits suicide, breaks down before he takes such step but that of a non-suicidal individual family remains intact."

"We found that when the loan is to be taken the eldest male member, usually eldest brother, takes the responsibility. After the amount is received it is been spend on paying the broker, throwing party in the village, purchasing of luxury items. When time comes to repay the amount, which coincides with floods and crop failures, family members and friends show their inability to help the person in debt. It is followed by recovery notices and sometime even imprisonment of few days resulting in decline in his social status, which is of prime importance in the rural segment," Satyanarayan said.



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Feb 11, 2011
Taking a loan to throw a party to show off money that you don't really have? Sounds like the American economy. Sorry to hear that debt is forcing people to take their own life. If society doesn't respect the cultivators of the earth there will be no life on earth. Think about where your food comes from.Think about the planet and ecosystems required to sustain life. Think about the importance of human life and dignity. Don't look down on poor farmers. Don't make fun of them. You can't eat your paper money.