Maharashtra is the richest and most prosperous state in India. At the same time, it is also plagued by farmer suicides. Although farmer suicides have been taking place all over India, Maharashtra has noted the largest number of suicides since the 1990s. For 9 years from 1997 to 2006, 4,453 farmers committed suicide due to crop failures and heavy debts. In the next 4 years, this number increased by 547, bringing the total number of farmers who committed suicide to 5000 only from 2005-2009. Which means that the same number of farmers committed suicide in half the time span. This is government data. What about the statistics which go unreported and uninvestigated?

P. Sainath, a rural development journalist first began investigating the farmer suicide cases and his findings were not only stunning but also scary. He wrote a book: Everybody loves a good drought – highlighting the state of affairs of agriculture and farmers in India. He also explains the impact of a global phenomenon on rural India.

I took this picture when I saw a bottle of chemical pesticide lying empty in a field full of greens in Bhor village, a little ahead of Narayangaon, some 80 kms from Pune. It is a tribute to the sons of the soil (the real ones), P. Sainath and my own desire to report on issues like these.

One of the reasons fuelling farmer deaths was not suicide but indirect suicide. By definition, suicide is an attempt to kill yourself and the ones reported so far were direct suicides. But when P. Sainath dug about a bit, he saw that many farmers would complain of unbearable stomach ache during spraying season. When he checked their records, he’d see them admitted into a hospital with stomach ache. A post mortem would reveal that they had been consuming bottles of spray pesticide while tending to their fields thus resulting in an “indirect” suicide.

If the farmers stop cultivating grains and vegetables, where are the people of India going to eat from? Will money buy them food to last the rest of their lives? I think its time we stopped believing the idiot box and woke up from a deep slumber.

(Bio: June Bug is a journalist and a photographer.)

16 Responses to “Farmicide”

  1. March 1, 2010 at 02:24

    Thanks again, June!


  2. March 1, 2010 at 09:20

    Aditya, it’s nice to see this post on your blog… shows that you care.

    It makes my blood boil when I read things like this. We have an Agriculture Minister who is from Maharashtra, whose name I shall not mention because it really is not worth mentioning, and his reputation is well-known… We have the so-called ‘sons of the soil’ fighting over the Marathi manoos… perhaps the farmers don’t feature their ‘upliftment’ scheme…

    Superbly written, there is also some great piece of photography here, very expressive and shows the irony.

    Here, here, Junebug. And thanks Aditya.


  3. March 1, 2010 at 09:25

    Its a well written post.. and on an issue that is not taken as seriously as it looks..
    good photography by June Bug..


    • March 1, 2010 at 09:33

      This issue is not as serious as it looks, it is as serious as can be.

      Rahul Gandhi’s famous ‘Kalavati’ speech in Parliament became a rage… I wonder when he’s going to go to and see for himself the realties in Vidharbha… or maybe he’s preparing for his next rousing speech in Parliament or scheming about how the Con-gress is going to clinch the next election…


  4. 5 Sam
    March 1, 2010 at 14:46

    “Maharashtra is the richest and most prosperous state in India.”

    Can someone please tell me when Maharashtra became the “richest and most prosperous state in India.”???


  5. 6 June
    March 1, 2010 at 17:39

    Sam: As a matter of fact, we’re the most industrially progressive state in the country. Its a fact.

    Dinkar and Itihas: Thanks much 🙂

    Dinkar: It is a shame to see the people of the nation sleeping. Can you blame gullibility?


    • March 1, 2010 at 19:54

      June, I am surprised at how the elite of this country is putting up with this kind of nonsense. Where has social and corporate responsibility gone? Gullibility? My foot. People are very well aware of everything that goes on. The general attitude is to be apathetic.

      What I am doubtful about is whether people really apply themselves when they vote. They’ve voted in the same government that they had been complaining about and still are. And if you tell me they don’t really have a choice about whom to vote for, let me tell you that the NDA government was much better. ‘Con-gress’ is only out to con people and ruin this country.

      Btw, I was thinking if you could be generous enough to contribute such material on my blog: http://dinkarkamani.wordpress.com It’s not as prolific as Aditya’s, but you could help me. I try to write whenever I can, but I can only really put down my thoughts when I’m either strongly inspired or very, very angry and irritated. Besides, I’m not much of a scribe anyway. Sorry for being so blunt with my proposition.


    • 8 Sam
      March 3, 2010 at 08:35

      Whatever is the earnings of growth of Maharashtra, is majorly because of Mumbai. The ‘State’ isn’t developed.
      Maharashtra lags far behind in many areas of development than other states, year after year.
      Thats a fact!


  6. 9 June
    March 2, 2010 at 15:24

    Dinkar, I would strongly agree with the “apathy” bit. As a nation, not only are we insanely BLIND but also apathetic towards everything. Yes, there is change around us and yes there are people who can change the scenario, too. And funnily enough, its the elite that don’t care. Education makes you think about the rising population but does it always tell you to use protection while having sex?

    Under the *DEMOCRACY*, everyone is free to do anything. And so is happening in our country. Its no worse than anarchy. Except anarchists know its anarchy. We just don’t blink. We need an awakening. Also, I don’t blame the system anymore. Because I created it as much as they did.

    About your blog: Sure, why not. I’m just going through it now 🙂


    • March 2, 2010 at 19:54

      Education? What is education? It is the conclusion to a building of character. I always thought education made people think better and apply themselves better. We are not educated, only literate. But sometimes I doubt even that…

      My post “60 years of the Indian Republic: Has our Constitution failed?” addresses some of the points you have mentioned.

      Btw, are you on FB?


  7. 11 Devdutt
    March 3, 2010 at 06:50

    abey kitna royega? I hope you’ve gone organic already to stop the scourge of Monsanto and GMOs. Give viable alternatives, if you have any, instead of lamenting the passing of common sense.


    • March 3, 2010 at 07:42

      I was thinking about this on my way to work – about how many people complain and how many of them actually get down to doing something about what’s bothering them instead of continuing to be angry and ‘feel strongly’ about them. Limping around makes me think of unsually cool stuff.


    • 13 varun
      March 3, 2010 at 09:13

      “abey kitna royega” HAHAHAHAHA and LOL @ the rest of the comment too…FAAAAAAAK


  8. 14 June
    March 12, 2010 at 04:25


    Also, we know only one side of the story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Member of The Internet Defense League

Follow Mehta Kya Kehta? on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 1,203,480 hits

%d bloggers like this: