15 Sep 2015

e-Khaliyan

Indian Farmers Suicide Issue - Insights from Experts

I was reading a blog post from one of my Friends Blog, regarding Farmers Issue  India especially recent suicides reported in leading newspaper on daily basis. 
   Being as son of Farmer, I have closed watched or let say experienced the farming issues, which instant drag myself to my village whenever read the sad news about farmers suicide. I was always reluctant to write on this issue since the readers of my blog are not farmers where problem lies, however I came to a post which is written by an eminent person, who is staying in USA and he has put the problem and solution very very clearly and to the point which can be really related to every individual farmers of our country. Then I thought to put it on my blog along with his full analysis to reach to wider audience. I have taken the content from quora( Link to his post).



So here goes the details of the issue....

There  was an extensive and fascinating survey of Indian farmers: Page on lokniti.org. This was done by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in December 2013. It will make you think differently about the state of farming in India. Unless we understand the problems well, we cannot look for solutions. 


Realization 1: They don't always like farming or villages

A vast majority of the farmers are ready to quit farming and move to the city. Many of them are forced in this occupation due to traditional occupation reasons. That is hundreds of millions of people who are trapped into doing something they might not like and living in a place they hate. 

Would you be very stressed if you are stuck in a dead end occupation with no future? Most of my family members were involved in agriculture 3 generations ago and quit them. They are happier now. 


Realization 2: It's the education and opportunities


Like any other people, farmers do like to move to the city for education and better facilities. We have to get out of this romantic, idyllic notions about the villages. A vast majority of Indian farmers care about things like education, employment and facilities just like you and I. 
Education of children is the biggest worry of farmers and not getting proper access to education and employment for their children is increasing stress levels.

Realization 3: The power of rich, large farmers in politics

Unlike the rich, large farmers it is the landless farmers who are open about getting Foreign Investment into India. 
If the landless believe so much, why doesn't the government do so. Because, a majority believe that only the rich & large farmers benefit from the government schemes as they traditionally held power. The lobby of richer farmers make many of the subsidies appear to be in the best interests of India, while the poor farmers believe they get nothing.

Realization 4: Fix the economy and infrastructure

Farmers have a variety of problems with farming. There is no one big smoking gun. But, economic reasons are the predominant ones - inflation, low productivity, low income, low price, overall economic ones. The rest of them - like flood/drought prevention, irrigation etc do with infrastructure. 


Realization 5: State of farmers in non-Capitalist states

Contrary to popular perceptions, farmers in Communist ruled states don't do that well. It is the farmers in West Bengal and Kerala who hate farming the most. 

In short, millions of farmers would love to quit farming and move to the cities because they love education, employment and opportunities. We also have to realize that many/most of them don't like to do farming nor like the villages. Not being able to provide their children education and economic progress is contributing to the huge stress levels of farming fathers. Eventually this accumulated stress possibly results in serious psychological conditions including suicides. 

Finally, many of our farming policies - including those of curtailing foreign investments benefit the small, but powerful rich landed class not the landless ones [if it may help, my great grandfather owned massive lands as amirasudar - a southern version of Zamindar - the powerful landed class.



Solutions:

  1. Build more opportunities for education and employment. The top solution doesn't even have anything to do with farming or agriculture. It has to do with education and opportunities, because that is what most of our farmers want for their children. If their children are happy, they are happy. If they are happy, they don't commit suicides.
  2. Provide more access to banking: Most of India has no access to banking and have to rely on local pawnbrokers. Let us spread the seeds of banking and modern finance to all of India. Once you fix the money & investment part, a lot of other things get fixed.
  3. Build new cities. Cities are the foundation of civilization [this is why we talk glowingly of Indus Valley Civilization and various empires]. We have become de-urbanized over the centuries of bleak fortunes. We now have to re-urbanize. This is what most farmers want. Whether you like it or not, they will end up in the cities and contribute to growing slums. Build new cities and settle this massive exodus.
  4. Train people. Would you like to practice lifelong medicine when you hate blood and needles? Then, why would force upon farming career on people who don't like. Let them find new jobs and careers. In the lands and opportunities they leave behind, let some of the really passionate educated folk build massive agri businesses. If everyone does what they are good at, there will be less suicides and better productivity. 
  5. More infrastructure. Let there be more electricity to power the rural homes, more warehouses to prevent wastage & improve earnings, more buildings for people to live, more roads and ports for people to transfer their produce, more access to technology to be more productive. 

As Bill Clinton said in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid." Focus on building a rapidly growing economy that provides education and employment opportunities to vast numbers of rural Indians and you would solve the suicide epidemic not just among the Indian farmers but a bigger class of rural Indians.




To  add my own points, in short we need first a very well established education system along with Industrial Development.

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