Debt Traps of Money Lenders and Farmer Suicide in India

India is an agrarian country with around 60% of its people directly or indirectly depend upon agriculture. Agriculture in India is often attributed as gambling with monsoons because of its almost exclusive dependency on precipitation from monsoons. The failure of these monsoons leading to a series of droughts, lack of better prices, exploitation by Middlemen, all of which have led to a series of suicidescommitted by farmers across India. •Farmers’ demands were not taken into account while preparing the relief package.

Neither were civil society organisations, local government bodies, panchayats etc. consulted. •The relief packages were mostly amalgamations of existing schemes. Apart from the farmer helpline and the direct financial assistance, there was scarcely anything new being offered. Pumping extra funds into additional schemes shows that no new idea was applied to solve a situation where existing measures had obviously failed. •The farmer helpline did not give any substantial help to farmers except in Karnataka. The basis for selection of beneficiaries under the assistance scheme was not well-defined. Also, type of assistance to be given led to problems like a farmer needing a pair of bullocks getting a pump set and vice versa (or a farmer who has no access to water sources being given pump sets) •Awareness regarding the package was also fairly low. Research by various investigators like Raj Patel,[2] Nagraj,[19][20] Meeta and Rajivlochan,[22] identified a variety of causes.

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India was transforming rapidly into a primarily urban, industrial society with industry as its main source of income; the government and society had begun to be unconcerned about the condition of the countryside; moreover, a downturn in the urban economy was pushing a large number of distressed non-farmers to try their hand at cultivation; the farmer was also caught in a Scissors Crisis; in the absence of any responsible counselling either from the government or society there were many farmers who did not know how to survive in the changing economy.

Such stresses pushed many into a corner where suicide became an option for them [23] Research has also pointed to a certain types of technological change as having played an instrumental role in the problem. One study from the Punjab showed dramatic misuse of agricultural chemicals in farmer households in the absence of any guidance on how to correctly use these deadly chemicals and linked it to the rise in farm suicides wherever farm chemicals were in widespread use. 24]Important research in Andhra Pradesh showed the very rapid change in seed and pesticide products to have caused “deskilling” in the cotton sector. 1. The dependency of agriculture on nature should be reduced. This calls for effective management of water during seasons of good monsoons. Prevention of crop failure should be the primary aim of the Government. In most cases, it is not the lack of water but the lack of proper management on the government’s part that causes water shortage.

2. Making institutional finance available to every farmer is another important solution to save to the farmers from debt traps of money lenders. Where institutional finance is available, it should be made easily accessible to the poorest farmers. This calls for removing of elaborate formalities and procedures for obtaining the loans. The causes of farmers’ suicides are both economic and social. The economic causes are : (i) growing expenditure, specially on bought inputs (ii) low productivity iii) inadequate prices of agriculture produce (iv) difficulties in marketing and marketing hazards (v) natural hazards caused by drought (vi) absence of proper crop planning (vii) unsatisfactory agriculture credit (viii) accumulated burden of debt Amongst the social causes are : (i) the drinking habit which atrophies the productivity of the farmer (ii) extravagant expenditure on marriages (iii) bad health and illness and inability to meet the necessary expenditure on medicine and health services.

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Debt Traps of Money Lenders and Farmer Suicide in India. (2017, Jan 19). Retrieved from