Sachiniti

May 9, 2010

Onions – Dearer Than Life

In response to fellow villagers chastising him over his suicide attempt ‘What do you know of my problems’? said Mallikarjuna, a farmer and breathed his last, having consumed a lethal dose of insecticide.

It is true.. what do we know of their woes.

A suicide is reportedly happening every eight hours in the cotton belt of Vidarbha. As if this is not alarming enough, let me point out the above incident however, occurred in Karnataka this time, due to the falling prices of onions..a depressing agrarian scenario, that mirrors a corrupt and decadent administration, indifferent to the crisis.

‘Falling prices’? When? Where? You might ask. Valid question. Debt repressed farmers are coerced into selling their produce at the rate of Rs.200 a quintal, or Rs. 2 a kilo which escalates to Rs 14 or thereabouts by the time it reaches consumers.So both farmers and consumers are  as if putty in the hands of the system.

Middlemen are ruling the roost pocketing the major chunk, while farmers are paid a pittance. Weighed down with the enormity of debts to begin with, low returns multiply  their woes on one hand  and compound interest on the other. Frustration, hopelessness, despair leads them to the path of ruination. Suicide, an option embraced by their fellow villagers, as if endemic, then seems a panacea to their ills .

As if struck by a three pronged attack of a callous government, economic breakdown, sharks as money lenders, the sons of the earth are falling like nine pins to the machinations of  the greedy.

Details of suicides vary but the underlying cause remains constant. A flawed agrarian policy, symptomatic of deep rural distress. What is to be considered is not just the statistics of suicides rising like mercury in the barometer of Indians shame, but also how this may result in moral despair for those yet braving the storm.

Hunger may lead to death, if not suicide. Which of the two is more alarmingly poignant? Can we expect honest statistics of hunger deaths?

Browbeaten by drought and natural calamities was a reality farmers had to contend with . But falling prey to predators, strengthened and supported by devious governmental policies reflects just how poorly developed we are as a nation. India Posited? Oh really! Picture that while counting the dead bodies of impoverished farmers.

Undoubtedly the complexity of the situation, its layered beaten inundations over the decades into the fabric of agrarian life defy easy solutions. However that ought not deter seeking immediate redressal for avoidance/stunting of this crisis.

Onions sure do leave us teary!


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