By Gaurav Sharma
A day after a farmer committed suicide by hanging himself at a protest rally led by the Aam Aadmi Party in Jantar Mantar against the contentious Land Acquisition Bill, countless commentaries, from different people, are being spelled out on the mortifying incident.
Even as the allegations flew thick and fast between the political parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to blame any single party for the incident saying, “We should solve this together. The problem is very old, and rampant in the country.”
Calling it a “collective responsibility”, Modi said, “We need to find a solution to the farmers’ misery. We can’t leave a farmer unsupported, but instead have to be with him at his moment of peril, and also for his future.”
The international media, blamed the policies of the government as the major cause for the wave of suicides that have devoured the farming fraternity. The Guardian, a UK daily said, “Rising prices for seeds and fertilizers, and banking reforms that ended up forcing farmers to turn to loan sharks, have magnified the trouble.”
Another UK daily, The Independent echoed similar views, even though it did take into account the unprecedented damage that unseasonal rainfall had inflicted on the crops this year.
BBC highlighted the precarious nature of the farming occupation, citing a Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies report which proclaimed farming to have become risky, stressful and unrewarding.
After reports came out from the family of the deceased farmer, saying that Gajendra was stressed after the unexpected loss of crops, the Dausa district administration was quick to dismiss “loss of crops” as the reason behind the suicide.
“Loss to crops does not appear to be a reason of suicide. His family’s financial condition is fine and they have farm houses and his uncle is the local village sarpanch,” Dausa’s Additional District Collector, Kailash Sharma said.
According to the Additional District Collector not a single farm in Baswa Tehsil, where the farmer’s village falls, is entitled for compensation.
“During the survey conducted by the district administration to assess loss to crops, it was found that the damage in all the farms in that Tehsil was below 33 per cent therefore no farmer was eligible for compensation”, he said.
The New York Times also did not rule out “political motivation” as the reason behind the suicide, referring to the 90’s era when scores of young people committed suicide to protest the increasing use of caste quotas to fill central government jobs.
It also pointed direction to a number of suicides that took place during the agitation to carve out the separate state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.
While controversies are abreast as to the reason behind Gajendra’s death, all reports by the international media houses and research organisations concur with one fact– that more needs to be done to empower the farmers.
More so, to give them the financial wherewithal to withstand a shock season or two. Certainly, it is time to rubbish the debt waivers and crop loans into the bin. Forever.