Enmeshed in Shackles: Farmer Suicides
The weather in Indian states has never been predictable, and is rarely a friend to farmers; in this case, however, the fluctuating conditions have resulted in a vast number of farmers across India, particularly in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra, ending their lives due to their inability to grow and harvest a crop. Courtesy of this deep lack of revenue, farmers are pushed even deeper into a debt trap; unable to provide for themselves and for their families, these cultivators commit suicide in the hope of ending their extreme sentiments of worry and misery. The fact that so many Indian farmers across the nation die by suicide because they are enmeshed in crop failure and debt just shows the hopelessness embedded within their mindsets—they can’t see a way out, they can’t garner enough support from their community and the government, the weather destroys their precious crop—so suicide becomes the only way out.
The State of Indian Farmers
The plight of the farmers has concentrated itself in Marathwada, a region in Maharashtra, wherein over 600 farmers have ended their lives. As said by Lingaraj Pradhan, a farmer leader, “small farmers find it difficult to sell their produce in the market ruled by middlemen”. Despite the fact that these farmers are the very reason we find fresh and nutritious food on our plates, they are also unfortunately worst off when it comes to their treatment and subsequent remuneration for their efforts and toil. There is no doubt that these rising numbers of suicide have to be curtailed; however, the unreliable climactic conditions in India are one of the least controllable forces. The situation is also dire in regions of Karnataka; as said by Uma, president Dakshina Kannada District Legal Services Authority, “most farmers in the state are dependent on monsoon. The state is still lagging behind when it comes to providing alternative irrigation schemes. Farmers incur huge losses because of untimely rain and drought. Some farmers, who are very sensitive, take the extreme step when they are not able to cope with the loss”. But that hasn’t stopped everyone from wholeheartedly seeking a solution to this pressing issue.
How has the Community tried to help?
In response to these alarming figures, the computer engineering department members of PA College of Engineering, Mangalore, launched an Android app that helps farmers in the region seek officials’ help in the case of emergencies; it is designed to provide support to farmers on the verge of depression or suicide, in order to prevent another calamity. As said by Sharmila Kumar, “the app, Sahaya Rakshak, has a feature that allows farmers to send distress messages to pre-loaded mobile numbers of the government officials concerned. Here the responsibility lies with the officials concerned to respond quickly”. Moreover, S P Chengappa, president of the Mangalore Bar Association, suggested that the India government take the initiative to convert villages into smart villages, since such an arrangement will immediately connect local production with local distribution, provide support to sustainable agriculture policies and practices, and bring internet connection into the rural, isolated areas.
Farmer suicide is undoubtedly one of the worst calamities to hit a country whose main occupation is agricultural cultivation; the mere fact that the individual and collective remuneration for Indian farmers is so painfully low attests the poor state of resource allocation in India. So, given the magnitude of this issue, definite intervention needs to take place, in order to prevent more hardworking farmers from terminating their lives and leaving their families helpless and bereaved. And the college and individuals in Mangalore have done just this—by launching a mobile application that can link helpless and depressed farmers to helplines and officials, this measure has the potential to curb the many deaths of farmers we Indians keep hearing about, and will induce the government officials of India to hear their grievances and to take the necessary action. All in all, such measures can help prevent more distressed farmers from ending their lives and leaving their families with a load of grief and debts to pay off.[Image Attribute: Public Domain]