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India
03 May 2017

Over 12,000 farmers' suicides recorded annually since 2013: Centre

India saw 12,000 farmers' suicides annually since 2013

Conveying a dismal state of affairs, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that over 12,000 farmers' suicides have been registered annually since 2013.

This, despite a multifaceted approach to improve their financial condition and social security, the government said.

These accounted for 9.4% of total suicide victims in the country in 2015 and 2014, and 8.7% in 2013, it added.

In context

India saw 12,000 farmers' suicides annually since 2013
The disturbing trend of farmers' suicides in India

Trend

The disturbing trend of farmers' suicides in India

India has witnessed a record number of farmers' suicides throughout the years - Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have been some of the worst-hit states.

The petitioner, Citizen Resources and Action Initiative NGO, found in their study that most victims are aged below 30; monthly household income in 2015-16 was as low as Rs. 6,000.

History

How did the trend begin?

The alarming trend came to the fore post liberalization in the 1990s. As the government turned its focus on cash crops, demand and supply kept increasing and prices kept falling.

Public investment in agriculture is very low, leading to outdated facilities for farmers. Credit supply diminished too, making farmers fall prey to unscrupulous moneylenders.

Meanwhile, production continues to suffer amid environmental and soil damage.

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Major causes behind farmers' suicides

The National Crime Records Bureau listed bankruptcy, indebtedness, farming-related issues, illness, and drug or alcohol abuse as the primary reasons of farmers' suicides. The NGO's study added to the list failure to get better crop prices and unmet expectations of more credit, among others.

Petition

NGO questions government on its claims

The NGO had challenged the government's claims of working for farmers' benefits.

The counsel argued that funds worth thousands of crores of rupees under the much-hyped PM Fasal Bima Yojana had reached less than 20% of small farmers; instead they were lying with private insurance companies.

It also sought directions to the Centre to subsidize agricultural work.

SC

SC raps Centre, asks for response

The SC said it was hard for it to intervene as "all (necessary) steps are in the executive's domain".

However, it rapped the Centre for putting the onus of strategizing on the NITI Aayog. "You (the Centre) are giving everything to NITI Aayog. How much can it handle?"

It gave the government four weeks to respond to the NGO's petition.

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