Why in news?

  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records on accidental deaths and suicides shows that suicide rate in deeply stressed agrarian sector accounted for 7.7% of total (134,516) suicides in India.
  • 10,349 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2018.
  • The year before – 10,655 cases were noted, so only a marginal 306 reduction.

Details and Concerns

  • The fact that over 10,000 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide is a bigger concern than marginal increase on decrease in the various numbers.
  • Problem in data, such as efforts by states to downplay suicides and tinkering with the definition of farmers. This would present a watered down version of the real picture.
  • Example, 66 suicides were rejected by authorities in Karnataka on the grounds that the suicides were for reasons other than the agrarian crisis in the state.
  • 2018 also saw a sharp increase in farmer protests across the country and triggered a wave of loan waivers.
  • Maharashtra had highest share in farm-related suicides (34.7%) and Karnataka had the second highest (23.2%).
  • West Bengal, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa and Union territories reported zero farmer suicides.
  • Farmer sector has been under presser due to:
    • Recurring droughts and floods
    • Declining income from agriculture
    • Plummeting price of produce
    • Lack of minimum support price mechanism
    • Shrinking land holdings
  • Other factors such as Falling Consumer Expenditure and Rural wages also have an impact on the agrarian distress.
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