Cotton Crop Failure and Farmer Suicides in the Malwa Region of Punjab: What Does It Reveal ?
The enlarged number of farmer suicides can be understood in the context of rising distress in agriculture of the state. The number of farmer suicides in Punjab is recognized as the changing agricultural relations. During 2015-16, Malwa region of farmers is forced to choose this option as the failure of cotton crop put them under heavy stress. The most vulnerable districts of this region are Bathinda, Mansa and Talwandi Sabo from cotton crop failure crisis. However, the study area was confined to those villages of Bathinda district where the farmers committed suicides due to cotton crop failure in 2015-16. It tries to analyze the number of farmer suicides, the reasons behind suicides and also the present economic status of the families of the victims. The economic position of such families with respect to their capacity to cope with economic distress due to crop failure was very miserable.Due to very low productivity and higher cost of production, the net returns of the cotton crops were found negative. Despite additional income from ‘leased in’ activities, farmer’s indebtedness considerably increased due to the failure of the cotton crop. Because of the crop failure farmer would never again be able to manage the loss unless they sell off his landed property. In the case of indebtedness, the marginal, and small farmers are in more critical position. Also, the landless farmer, who does not own land, bears more burden in real terms. The children had dropped out from schools, land and other assets sold for living, family members suffered depression in a large number of cases. There was almost no state or social support for such families. These families demands one time financial support in the form of money or long time support in the form of pension or employment for the member of the victim’s family and free access to educational and health facilities. Government of Punjab announced a relief of Rs 2 lakh for such families. This paper also analyzes the role of media and role of Kisan Union in reporting on farmer’s suicide.
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