Indian Farmers Suicides may increase due to Subsidies given to Indian Corporate Sector

Starving Indian Farmers Protesting

NEW DELHI – TNN – : Left parties on Friday slammed the BJP government for the “deepening crisis” in the Indian economy and said concessions and doles were being handed out to corporates at the expense of farmers.

Referring to the government’s decision as a “definite fascist trend” in the country, CPM chief Sitaram Yechury said Modi government provided relief of over Rs 2.25 lakh crore to the rich in India but shied away from helping farmers forced to commit suicide due to farm distress.

The Left convention, attended by all Left parties including CPM, CPI, All India Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party,

also announced that they will hold nationwide protests against the government from October 10 to 16.

“Unemployment is at its highest level in 50 years. Industries and businesses are ruined and people are suffering job losses,” Yechury claimed.

CPI general secretary D Raja stressed the need to save the working class people and deprived sections of the society. “The Indian economy is in shambles. Instead of retrieving it, the RSS-BJP combine have plunged the country in a political-social crisis,” Raja said, referring to the government’s decision to scrap Article 370, impose NRC in Assam and the rise in instances of mob lynchings..

Some times ago Nita Bhalla reported for Reuters that: ‘ Indian farmers hit by drought and debt displayed the skulls of fellow farmers, believed to have committed suicide, and placed live rats in their mouths at a protest calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save them from starvation.

The farmers, who traveled to the Indian capital from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, say lack of rains over the last year have led to crop failure, forcing many to take loans from banks and moneylenders to survive. “These skulls are all that remains of our brothers who killed themselves because they could not repay their debts,” said P. Ayyakannu, president of South Indian Rivers Linking Farmers Association, sitting by a row of eight human skulls.

More than 12,600 farmers and agricultural laborers committed suicide in 2015 alone – making up almost 10 percent of all suicides in India

“It has come to the stage where hundreds of farmers are committing suicide due to the pressure of not being able to repay these loans, yet our prime minister is doing very little. We are here to demand Modi help us and write-off these debts.”

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It was not, though, verified if the skulls on display at the protest in Delhi’s city center belonged to farmers who had committed suicide. Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have killed themselves over the last decade – by drinking pesticides or hanging themselves from trees – as unseasonal rains and drought combined with lower global commodity prices have hurt farm incomes.

More than 12,600 farmers and agricultural laborers committed suicide in 2015 alone – making up almost 10 percent of all suicides in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Almost 60 percent of the suicides were caused by bankruptcy and indebtedness or farming-related issues, said the NCRB and almost three-quarters of victims were farmers cultivating land plots of less than two hectares (five acres).

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“These skulls are all that remains of our brothers who killed themselves because they could not repay their debts.”

Since sweeping to power almost three years ago, Modi has introduced a national crop damage insurance scheme, promised to improve irrigation and input subsidies to farmers if one-third of their crop is damaged. But farmers’ unions say the implementation of these measures has been slow.

In the searing midday heat, over 100 farmers dressed in green turbans and loincloths sat bare-chested on the roadside. They chanted slogans and shared stories of watching their rice and cotton crops wither away, and spoke of borrowing money to pay their children’s school fees, buy food and even to repay existing debts. Some held up large white rats and placed the squirming rodents between their teeth — saying they would be forced to eat them in order to avoid starvation.

Read more: Thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide each year due to India’s farming policy

“This is not just about the farmers in Tamil Nadu, but about farmers all over India. We are all facing the same problems,” said Rakesh Tikait, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, a union representing thousands of farmers in northern India.

This piece was first published in Reuters. Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ros Russell.