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

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Agricultural Institutional Credit, Indebtedness and Suicides in Punjab

Since the nationalisation of banks and the green revolution, institutional credit for agriculture has grown in Punjab. But the growth had not been uniform and in line with the demand for such credit. Indebtedness has also increased in the state, but a large part of the debt has been for non-productive purposes. The incidence of suicides in Punjab has not been higher than the all India average and studies reveal that while indebtedness is indeed one of the major causes of suicides, it is neither the only cause nor the main one. There is thus no direct causal relationship between institutional credit, indebtedness and suicides in rural Punjab. The problems of indebtedness as well as suicides do not merit narrow interpretation or solution, as these are only symptoms of a larger malaise. They have to be contextualised in the light of stagnation of agriculture, rising levels of rural unemployment and dissipation of economic and social infrastructure.

P unjab agriculture has undergone a significant structural change since the advent of the green revolution in the mid1960s. Traditional agriculture has progressively given way to modern and commercial agriculture. Technology and inputs were the main underpinnings of this transformation. The agricultural policy that ensured easy access to inputs through credit and subsidies and an assured market through minimum support and procurement prices helped successfully translate the new technology into increasing agricultural production. Punjab has also witnessed an increase in per capita income and a decrease in levels of rural poverty over the years since the green revolution [Shergill and Singh 1995].

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