ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Farmers’ Suicides in India

Indebtedness, loss of livelihood, and ultimately, suicides by the farmers indicate the multidimensional nature of agrarian distress in India. The debt waiver is only a transitory measure. The centre and the state governments should adopt well-thought-out coordinated measures and strategies to find out a permanent solution for the agrarian crisis in the country.


The authors are thankful to anonymous referees for their insightful comments and suggestions.

Despite the declining share of agriculture in the gross domestic product (GDP), it continues to be an important sector of the Indian economy (Arora 2013), which absorbs a significant section of the nation’s workforce (Nair 2021). An alarming phenomenon since the mid-1990s is the increasing number of reported deaths amongst Indian farmers by suicide. As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, the number of farmers’ suicides has registered a sharp increase during the six years (2010–16), which was three times that of the preceding decade (2000–10).

Undoubtedly, the Indian government has taken various steps over the years towards this problem, but the response and relief packages have generally been ineffective, misdirected, and flawed. The anti-farmer laws constrained the farmers’ scope in doing business, leasing or even selling farm products. The government continued to postpone the problem of debt relief by failing to understand the problem. The procurement prices of wheat, paddy and other agricultural produce have been much less during the National Democratic Alliance government than the price received by farmers during the United Progressive Alliance’s tenure. Agricultural policies in India have been less favourable for farmers as they are being formulated without farmers’ consultation, food policy analysts or agricultural experts. Though the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package was introduced in four states during 2006, there were no clear-cut guidelines for disbursement of ex gratia besides information asymmetry among farmers about the quantum of interest waived under the package. The Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (ADWDRS), 2008 is often considered to be an imprudent policy as it created adverse effects on the banking habits of borrowers and could not reach the real needy, small and marginal farmers. Though the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was designed to take care of the limitations of the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, farmers contended that it is designed to benefit the private insurance companies as premiums are compulsory with hidden clauses, implying the policies often do not payout. The poor awareness about the Soil Health Card (2015) and absence of a proper monitoring body led to a certain degree of failure of the scheme.

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Updated On : 31st Jan, 2022
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