Farmers’ Suicide and Politics of Freebies: Destroyer Boasting as Liberator

Nowadays, suicides by farmers are almost dominating the media space in India. In this, Indian politicians, intellectuals, NGOs, activists etc. have also been super active in showing their concern for farmers. Farmers say that they are finding it hard to face the cost of farming due to mounting prices. So they take loans from banks and other financial institutions. It is clear that farmers are ignored both by society as well as by the government and policy makers. So they have only one easy option, suicide.

A farmer is treated very callously in India. There are thousands of special schemes for the welfare of big vote banks, like Dalits and Muslims but hardly any scheme for farmers.

Farmers have no fixed income means. Moreover, they are very simple. Hence they are easily deceived by bank officials, corrupt bureaucrats, private money lenders and land sharks. Even it can be said that they are all united in repressing and tormenting the helpless and unfortunate farmers. When there are no other avenues left, they have to surrender to these corrupt and repressing agents, unaware of the fact that he is meeting his own death.

A farmer has so many worries and stresses to finish his life as there is no hope and happiness left as his domestic and social life is totally distraught by unending poverty and want. This is very sad and painful that for them only suicide is the only solution left for all the problems. There is no one to solve their problems, neither the government nor the society.

For a farmer, their life journey is very tough, lengthy and tiresome. There is hardly any pleasure and comfort in their destiny. Above all, there is no help from any private or government agency. His life is dull and blank. There is no space for fulfilment and joy like a crematorium with line after line of dead corpse burning like the fire of hell or underworld. His heart sinks when he sees the people hale and hearty on his produce but he is left to die.

The government machinery is also very harsh with the farmers. Apart from poverty, droughts and floods, the farmers are also harassed by courts, banks, and money lenders. His dear farms are like graveyards and crematorium to him. When he does not get a good price for his produce, the harvest is like a carcas, produced on his ashes. Frustrated, his favourite prayer has become, “Oh God! Come and lift me….Oh, God! Oh God!”... He always pines and prays.

The government can stop the suicide by farmers by starting a farmer pension scheme. But hardly anything is done.  Suicide by farmers due to debt and poverty is the saddest and most unfortunate part of any government and society because it can be prevented by initiating welfare measures. It is a very famous quote that farmers are born in debt, live in debt and die in debt. This is a very harsh reality in the Indian context. Almost all the farmers in every state and village are under debt but nothing is done for poor, innocent and helpless farmers.

After independent so many draconian anti- farmer acts came into existence like Abolition of Zamindari (Landlord) system, Land Ceiling Act, Rent Control Act, Chakbandi Act, Land Acquisition Act, etc. These acts brought disaster to farmers and villagers. With the implementation of draconian anti-farmers acts ‘Abolition of Zamindari (Landlord) System, so called’ all the big farmers became beggars with the stroke of a pen. Their land was declared surplus and snatched by the government. Rest of the destruction was done by the Land Ceiling Act. Under these black acts, the so-called surplus lands were snatched from the farmers, without paying a single penny to the farmers as compensation and distributed by political parties to their vote banks. These acts made farmers almost beggars within a night. Ironically, all these acts were brought by Congress, Communists and other secular and socialist parties, who are now trying to show themselves as the messiah of farmers.

Poverty clubbed with government cruelty pushes the farmers to the edge and ultimately forces him to commit suicide. Small land holdings and the cruelty of the government machinery, supported by anti-farmer draconian acts are mainly responsible for a miserable lot of the farmers which led them to suicide. Politicians, bureaucrats, media and intellectuals try to show the suicide of farmers as a puzzle but it is not a puzzle but very simple to understand. They try to hide their callousness under the dark cloud of fake intellectualism. Farmers do the work in fields. So they are ignorant how tricky and unkind is the outer world. When a farmer is trapped in the vicious racket of debt then it is impossible for him to cross the bar safely. Nobody is helpful to the poor and helpless farmer. All want to snatch his dear land.

Even the National Crime Register is not honest in its reports. According to its reports, two highest causes for suicides in India are family problem and health. But the callous babus and intellectuals forgot to mention the poverty and debt of farmers another big cause in their study. 

When it comes to farmers, the chain of poverty, poor health, family needs, government indifference, brutal system, corruption, floods, droughts and suicide is very harsh realities. Bank loans are usually cleared off after great difficulty. There are also other family pressures like education, health trouble, court cases etc. Each of these acts as a brutal assault on indebted farmer but health and financial demands most are most malicious and painful of them all.

With great fanfare government framed some acts to help the farmers. But these acts brought more disasters to the farmers. Chakbandi Act, Ownership to Bataidar and Pettedars Acts etc. can be put in this category. Under Chakbandi Act, the government tried to give farmers land at a single place instead of different places. But this act threw farmers in unending litigations and gripped by the jaws of corruption. Poor farmers were exploited by the cruel justice system. Even some vote-hungry governments, such as communist government in Bengal, gave ownership rights to Bataidar and Pettedars.

Under Ownership to Bataidar and Pettedars Acts, so called surplus land was distributed among the landless farmers. But actually, it was distributed among the vote banks. This act again brought more disaster, clashes and legal hassles to the farmers.

Similarly, Rent Control Act is also a tool for the harassment for farmers. Under this act the old and ancestral property is allotted to the tenants on a very low rent by corrupt government officials and farmer is denied both the possession of his property as well as good rent. 

All such anti-farmer acts were brought by non-BJP governments who are claiming now as the saviours of farmers.

It is very true and shocking that suicides by farmers in India are much higher than the general average. It is surprising that the rich states like Maharashtra, Punjab and Andhra are on top on this data. Poor states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal or Orissa must have serious poverty but much lower suicide rates than Maharashtra or Punjab. Perhaps the shame of debt is much serious in these states.

Farmers everywhere, borrow money from their relatives and friends. They adopt this measure after banks and private moneylenders refused them down. But the sense of shame is much more in these rich states.

Things get worse if the farmer failed to repay the debt in time. He is like an out-caste in family functions, marriages and local meetings and gatherings. But in North Indian states of UP, Bihar, Bengal or Orissa has no such morals. Perhaps this may be the reason of low incidence of farmers’ suicide in the poverty-stricken sick states.

It is then not just the callous and laughing world outside the home, but a poor farmer’s loss of self-respect as head of the family that makes a debt-ridden farmer impossible to live.

Today farmers need special protection. First, anti-farmers acts like Abolition of Zamindari ( Landlord ) System’, Land Ceiling Act, Chakbandi Act, Ownership to Bataidar and Pettedars Acts, Rent Control Act etc., must be repealed. Farmers must get quotas and reservation in education, employment and government schemes. Special rural and agriculture banks should be opened to give farmers loan on easy conditions.

Most of the time farmers have to face droughts and floods. Governments can very easily solve these problems and help the farmers. The government must construct dams, check dams, Link Rivers and harvest rain waters. These measures will solve the problems of drought, floods and water shortage permanently. River beds, river catchment areas, ponds, water bodies, meadows, etc all are encroached by the land mafia or distributed by the politicians to their vote banks so hardly any land is left as meadows for animals.

Governments must establish rural and agriculture based industries and give 100% reservation to farmers in such industries. These measures will give farmers employments and side income. Farmers who are completely depended on agriculture should be given agriculture pension, quotas and reservation in jobs and education.

For Hindus, agriculture is a service to God and humanity. It is not a business or profession. Similarly, the land is dear to farmers like mother or God. Earlier animals were available at a low price but now most of the milk-producing animals and animals used in agriculture are slaughtered. So now the price of animals is very high.

Only then farmers may not think ‘What an unlucky hour it was when he was born in a farmer’s family, and invited my own ruin!’ A long chain of disappointment and cruelty has brought the farmers to this ill-fated pass. For a farmer, this is not a kind nation!