India: Hair dye banned after drought-hit farmers drink it to commit suicide

Authorities in northern India have banned the sale of a cheap variety of hair dye after debt-ridden farmers were found to be drinking it to end their lives, an official said Friday. At least 11 farmers have died from swallowing the hair dye in a drought-hit region of Uttar Pradesh state in the past three months, said Rajiv Agarwal, a senior state official. Two-thirds of India's 1.1 billion people depend on agriculture, and most have been left out of India's economic boom. In parts of western and southern India, the dire economic state of farmers has been blamed for thousands of suicides in recent years. The hair dye leads to kidney failure, said Ganesh Kumar, principal of the Maharani Lakshmi Bai Medical College. "We have banned the sale of the cheap dye made locally in Uttar Pradesh state," Agarwal told The Associated Press. The state's rugged Bundelkhand region has been battling a severe drought caused by the failure of monsoon rains for the past four years.