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

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The Aftermath of Farmer Suicides in Survivor Families of Maharashtra

How do survivors cope in the aftermath of a farmer suicide in their family? Detailed interviews with around 30 families in various villages of Nanded district, Maharashtra reveal that surviving family members battle with themselves and society to overcome impediments of all sorts for their basic existence. What emerges is a pressing need for a policy framework that focuses on these individuals by supporting them through alternative livelihood, education, and nutrition programmes. Pravin

The post-liberalisation period has witnessed suicides of more than three lakh farmers (including cultivators and agricultural labourers) in India. This spate of farmer suicides has been one of the biggest tragedies of the century as more than half of India’s workforce is still dependent on agriculture for their daily sustenance (Basu et al 2016).

The concern regarding this issue has manifested in many forms. First, national and international media have widely reported on this subject. The focus has been on understanding and presenting the problem at the micro level and to highlight community programmes that have made a difference at a smaller scale. It is noteworthy that, in recognition of the spate of suicides in the state, some media forums have referred to Maharashtra as the “graveyard of farmers” (Sainath 2011). Second, a number of academicians have studied the issue of farmer suicides in India. These include economists, agronomists, sociologists, psychologists, and social workers, who have analysed agrarian distress in specific states in India, particularly focusing on the causes of farmer suicides; they have also suggested remedies and reviewed and/or critiqued the current agrarian policy framework and mitigation or relief measures. Some of these studies include Deshpande (2002) for Karnataka, Mishra (2006) for Maharashtra, and Sridhar (2006) for Andhra Pradesh. The analyses were accomplished using primary data from field studies, secondary data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), and agriculture statistics from state governments. Some researchers have also reported on the prevalence of suicides (Nagaraj 2008; Sadanandan 2014). Finally, the extant literature has also identified the reasons behind suicides (Mishra 2006; Deshpande and Arora 2010; Kumari 2009); the burden of financial debt seems to have contributed to around 90% of the suicides.

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Updated On : 6th Feb, 2018

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