Embracing…
… my experiences in India

Farmers Suicide

2nd October.

An Indian National Holiday to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday.

AID and Youth for Social Change used this public holiday to hold a vigil for the suffering that is currently going on in the farming communities of India.

Farmers in India are in extreme social and economic distress. They are faced with huge inflation and raising input costs but are getting lower prices for their production. This has resulted in farmers accruing unmanageable debts.

Corporations have taken away farmers indigenous seeds and have pushed them to purchase more expensive genetically modified seeds which do not re-seed. Despite promises to act, the Indian Government has completely failed to protect our Farmers’ interests.

Farmers have had nowhere else to turn, no protection, thus have taken their own lives often leaving their families and debts behind them. It is estimated that over 100,000 farmers have taken their own lives in the past ten years.

The problem is not going away, hence the vigil.

Over 100 people assembled on Besant Nagar Beach last night to make their message clear.

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There were a lot of cameras and press swarming around, so hopefully the government will get the message that SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE. Token efforts made by government policies are not enough.

The vigil was well organised and executed. There were talks in English and Tamil on the plight of the farmers. There was a small group of Tamil singers who sang politically motivated songs; I managed to capture some of the sentiments of the songs which included anti-American influences and saying NO to Coca-Cola.

As the sun went down the sobering atmosphere was deepened when a list of 138 names was read out in the centre of the candle lit circle. The names were of farmers who had committed suicide in the past 2 months. This reading made my experience real. It is not just statistics we are talking about here, it’s real people, families and communities that are suffering.

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If 100,000 farmers had died in UK in 10 years, there wouldn’t be any farming left. Just because India’s population is so great, it doesn’t lessen the tragedy that is taking place daily.

What can we do?

  • Boycott Reliance supermarkets who do not practice fair trade.
  • Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of India.
  • Find out more on on AID website.

What would Gandhi do?

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5 Responses to “Farmers Suicide”

  1. Hi, thanks for your comment on my little article on farmers’ suicide. I would be interested in your thoughts on why Reliance is considered to practise unfair trade? The ethical and financial issues with the terminator gene have been widely discussed, and I’ve read (see <a href=”http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/1999/56887.htm”here” ) that Monsanto, the patent-holders on this development, have abandoned their plans of selling them, but are Indian farmers compelled to use these or other bio-engineered seeds? There has been considerable research in Indian agro-colleges into high-yielding and pest-resistant crops requiring less water than usual for irrigation – perhaps these can be industrialised and made widely available?

  2. I was told at the vigil that Reliance are a huge company seeking to maximise the profits by paying farmers meager prices for their crops. Due to their size and power, they can squeeze the life out of small farmers who we are trying to protect.

    Steve Bosserman goes into more detail about the process:
    http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/steve_bosserman/2006/09/03/localize_link_globalize_a_closer_look_at_india.htm

    He also identifies the important distinction between the need for technology in farming but not the abuse of technology. The developments need to respect for the communities it affects otherwise there will be more suicides ahead.

    I am sceptical that any large corporation such as Reliance has got anything else except profits on their mind.

  3. Everything is very open with a precise description of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thank you
    for sharing!

  4. I love what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and coverage!
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