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

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Farmer Suicides in Punjab

Incidence, Causes, and Policy Suggestions

The article is based on a primary survey carried out to ascertain the magnitude and determinants of deaths of farmers by suicide in six districts of Punjab. It recommends the provision of financial compensation to victim families, waiving of debt, and strengthening of public healthcare and education system as the main policy measures for addressing this tragic phenomenon.

The authors are grateful to the anonymous referee for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of the article.

India is an agriculture-dependent nat­ion where the socio-economic condition of the farmer is worrisome. Over the past two decades, the number of farmer suicides in the country has been on the rise. During the last two decades, more than 3.5 lakh farmers died by suicide in India (NCRB 2017). Currently, the issues of suicide have become an index of the crisis in India’s agriculture and have led to widespread discussions and deb­ates through print and vernacular media. As reported by the media, Andhra Pra­desh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Punjab are the worst-hit states where the magnitude of suicides has reached alar­ming proportions.

Punjab, popularly known as the “food bowl” of the country, remains shackled in a difficult phase of agrarian crisis that has witnessed 16,606 farmer and agricultural labourer suicides during 2000–15 (Tribune 2018: 1). Over the years, Punjab agriculture in general and small farming in particular is becoming a less profitable occupation due to rising fixed and variable input costs and non-remunerative sale prices of farm produce. ­Unable to generate sufficient earnings due to capital intensive technologies, small farmers have been leaving farming. As a result, around 2 lakh small farmers, who were operating two hectares of land, left farming in Punjab between 1991 and 2011 (Singh and Bhogal 2014: 1365).

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Updated On : 18th Jun, 2022
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