From time to time we read about farmers’ suicides, in the Vidarbha area in Maharashtra. But just how huge this problem is, was brought home to me when I read the following news report- Farmer suicides in Vidarbha, have gradually gone down during the last three years, with only 966 cases recorded in 2009.
Almost a thousand suicides in just six districts, comprising the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra! But it appears that it is true- the number of suicides has gone down.
The Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawalamban Mission has come out with the statistics. There were 1246 suicides in 2007, and 1147 in 2008. So 966 suicides in 2009 is indeed an improvement!
A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry discusses this problem. There are many reasons for the sad plight of the farmers, including indebtedness, rising costs of cultivation, scarcity of irrigation facilities, etc.
However what is most significant, is that the concerned authorities do not seem to be giving much thought to this problem.
‘Pumping extra funds into additional schemes shows that no new idea was applied to solve a situation where existing measures have obviously failed.’
‘Farmers are in severe distress and there is an urgent need for increased public awareness among farmers regarding agricultural policies both financial and those extended by the government. It is a complex task and requires more than just throwing money at it.’
If the government is apathetic towards the problem, the general public is no less so.
Which brings me to the question I want to ask.
One wonders why there is not a nationwide outcry against this situation. It is not that people are insensitive to tragedies or injustices. There have been recent cases where people have protested en masse against injustice, which has resulted in some action being taken.
Then why have there not been large scale protests against farmers’ suicides? Why have there been no candle-light marches or Facebook campaigns?
Is it because it is the urban, educated, middle class, which is most in a position to protest- and the people of this class only protest, if the victim of any injustice is from their own class of society?
Is it because we empathise only with people like us?