"We are helpless," says Kailash Kanse, Yavatmal's Assistant Commissioner of
Police (ACP). He summons a clerk and asks him to bring a file of farmer suicides in the district. He reads the figures aloud. In 2005, 92 farmers committed suicide. In 2006, the figure jumped to 196. He couldn't supply the number for 2007, but sources peg it at over 200. The sharp increase in the number of suicides after 2005 gives a clue. During the December 2005 winter session of the state assembly in Nagpur, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had announced the Rs one lakh relief for the families of farmers who committed suicide due to severe debt. "The CM's motive was noble, but it seems to have backfired," says a senior IAS officer who in the past was involved in relief and rehabilitation schemes for farmers in Vidarbha. He did not want to be identified.
Villagers almost always know the real cause of a death in their neighbourhood. "But they don't protest because they think it is government money and that it is, after all, going to help a fellow villager," says Vinay Vairale, a documentary filmmaker who has researched the subject extensively in the Vidarbha region.
From ToI. (Hat tip to India Uncut.) I admit that as an outsider, the ag situation in India confuses the heck out of me. For every article I read which claims that there we are in the middle of an acute ag crisis and that farming is no longer profitable due to rising input prices and stagnant farm gate prices of pruduce there is another bemoaning the skyrocketing prices of food and other ag products. Unless farmers are taking a hit to productivity due to weather or some or some other shock (evidence of which is strikingly absent from most of the articles I read on this subject) why aren't rising retail prices translating in higher incomes for farmers? Cotton prices, for example, are through the roof. Why hasn't this translated in higher income for Vidharbha cotton farmers?