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Amitabh Bachchan Urges To Save Farmers By Paying Off Their Loans

"Kaun Banega Crorepati" is aired on Sony Entertainment Television

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia Commons

Moved by the plight of a farmer who made it to the ‘hot seat’ of game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who is doing his bit to help the farmer community, has urged the public to step forward and help pay off their loans.

A farmer named Anantkumar Khanke made it to the show, and spoke about his struggle to survive. This led Amitabh Bachchan to urge people to come forth and help the farmers in whatever way possible.

Khanke said his annual income is around Rs 60,000 if they face a good rainy season. When there is a shortage of water, he pays Rs 100 per gallon for farming.

Big B, who himself does a lot for the farmers in his own way, narrated an incident which sensitised him to the farmers’ plight, read a statement.

He narrated: “When I was shooting in Visakhapatnam around a decade back, I read in the newspaper then, that farmers are committing suicide for amounts like Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000. I felt very bad reading this. When I came back, I contacted an NGO here and asked them if I could be of any help in saving the lives of farmers and that’s how I got a list of 30-40 people whose loans I could pay off.

Amitabh Bachchan
Save farmers, pay off their loans, urges Big B. Pixabay

“A few years ago, there was distress in Vidarbha due to shortage of rainfall and I cleared loans of around 100 farmers and recently in Maharashtra, I have ensured that the loans of around 360 farmers have been paid off to the banks. My next step is to help clear loans of approximately 850 farmers in Uttar Pradesh.”

He said that by mentioning this, he is hopeful that even if around 10 or 12 people, who find it within their capacity and capability, step forward and help in saving the lives of farmers, they would have “set an example for many more and in turn so many farmers’ lives would be saved”.

“I would urge people to understand the plight of our ‘anna-data’ (farmers) and the kind of hardships they are facing. I do not want to boast about myself but I want everyone to help our farmers who face the shortage of even having basic necessities.

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“If anyone of you, individually or collectively can pay off their loans, I join my hands to request you to please help them. This will be the biggest contribution you can make to the farmers of our country.”

“Kaun Banega Crorepati” is aired on Sony Entertainment Television. (IANS)

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Know About The Psychologists Team Helping To Prevent Farmers’ Suicides in Parts of Telangana

"The farmers are victims of circumstances, economic disparity and farm related issues. With no way to repay their loans, they suffer harassment at the hands of private money lenders and banks and the constant worry of how will I repay debts and manage my family haunts them."

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farmers
"Sometimes, farmers in distress may not approach us as seeking help is considered a stigma. Then we decided to have field teams who would speak to farmers," she said. Pixabay

Not satisfied with her cozy job at a corporate hospital here, a psychologist joined a team that is helping to prevent farmers’ suicides in parts of Telangana.

Shruti Naik wanted to explore the area of rural distress and found the task more challenging.

Her experience in three districts of Telangana that reported the highest cases of farmers’ suicides in the country has helped her understand the problem.

“I realized how severe the problem is and how misconceptions get propagated in the outside world,” Naik told IANS at the office of the ‘Kisan Mitra’ helpline at Tarnaka here.

farmer
The problems of tenant farmers is a huge issue in Telangana. They are not covered under the ‘Rythu Bandhu’ scheme being implemented by the state government to provide investment support of Rs 8,000 per acre per year. Pixabay

“The farmers are victims of circumstances, economic disparity and farm related issues. With no way to repay their loans, they suffer harassment at the hands of private money lenders and banks and the constant worry of how will I repay debts and manage my family haunts them.”

Kisan Mitra, run by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, an NGO, provides last mile delivery of services to farmers with respect to their entitlements. It serves as a bridge between government and farmers and tries to see that issues faced by farmers are resolved which otherwise would make them to go into distress.

It was started in 2017 in Vikarabad district at the initiative of then District Collector Divya Devarajan, who suggested that the NGO should take up the matter.

However, they realized that it was not just the helpline which was required.

“Sometimes, farmers in distress may not approach us as seeking help is considered a stigma. Then we decided to have field teams who would speak to farmers,” she said.

The helpline expanded its activity to Adilabad, a backward district bordering Maharashtra, after Devarajan was transferred there as the Collector. Subsequently, it also began its activities in Mancherial district.

“We have so far received 8,000 calls relating to problems like land issues, crop related, payments, loans and banker-related issues. We tried to resolve 4,000 cases. Not all were in distress. The idea is to solve problems before they go into distress,” said Naik.

She heads a team of seven members, all women. The counselors who receive the calls take down the details of the farmers and forward them to the respective field-level coordinators for follow-up.

It is also working with the government to rehabilitate the families of farmers who committed suicide. On International Women’s Day last year in Adilabad district, it called a meeting of 120 widows and their families. They were provided alternative livelihood with the government’s support.

farmer
“If they get some handholding they will do well. If they are helped in areas like minimum support price and if there is some awareness created about debt management, they will not resort to suicides.” Pixabay

The problems of tenant farmers is a huge issue in Telangana. They are not covered under the ‘Rythu Bandhu’ scheme being implemented by the state government to provide investment support of Rs 8,000 per acre per year.

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Studies show that 75 per cent of farmers who commit suicide in Telangana are tenant farmers. Kisan Mitra has helped 5,000 tenant farmers in Adilabad obtain loan eligibility cards. It negotiated with some bankers to form joint liability groups with 4-5 in each group. The groups were provided loans of Rs 1 lakh each.

Naik believes depression among farmers is a consequence of circumstances and farm and finance related issues. “If they get some handholding they will do well. If they are helped in areas like minimum support price and if there is some awareness created about debt management, they will not resort to suicides,” she said. (IANS)