10 MEASURES TO TACKLE THE ISSUE OF FARMER SUICIDES IN INDIA

I still remember my road trips from Jaipur to Delhi on weekends. My mother had to pack food everytime as there was no restaurant on the entire route. Now things have changed. NH8 has a number of malls and food chains including MC Donalds and CCD. These restaurants leisurely replaced the farm lands on the highway.

This depicts the plight of farmers more than anything else. The farmers near Delhi have an opportunity to sell their lands instead of killing themselves. But all Indian farmers are not that fortunate.

Aamir Khan’s Peepli Live is an apt satire on the current situation of Indian Farmers. The movie addresses a number of issues which need to be seen in the light of reality.

Indian Agricultural Setup

Indian Agriculture predominately dependent on nature. Any failure of nature adversely affects the farmers. Additionally our agricultural system is largely unorganized. The farmers work in an unsystematic manner. They lack technical support and institutionalized finance. Agriculture is treated as a seasonal occupation in the country. Farmers remain unemployed in some parts of the year.

There is barely any increase in the purchase price of the crops. However, the prices of inputs have hiked tremendously. This further contributes to the misery of an Indian farmer, who has no substantial income to meet his expenses.

Reasons for Farmer Suicides

Indebtedness is the major reason behind the farmer suicides. The loans taken by farmers can be divided into two categories:- personal and agricultural. The personal loans are taken generally to fulfill social obligations related to marriage and death. The agricultural loans are incurred for buying land, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and setting up a bio-gas plant.

In absence of institutionalized finance the farmers take loan from money lenders at high interest rates. Their agricultural profit is insufficient to recover debts. Thus, they are continuously harassed by the money lenders for the recovery of debts.

Government Schemes

The movie rightly points out that if an issue arises the legislators frame a “scheme”. But what about its implementation?

Presently the government offers a number of relief and insurance programs to the farmers. Under the said schemes the farmers are provided with loans on “low rate of interest” but ironically the benefits never reach them.

If a farmer defaults in payment of debts, the local police detains him for some time. The social embarrassment forces him to either sell his property or commit suicide. In Bundelkhand, farmers have even sold their wives and daughters to pay their debts.

It is largely contended that the schemes are implemented only on paper and not in reality. The benefits are availed solely by the rich farmers. The poor people are not even aware of the existence of such schemes. Issuance of a mere card or loan requires a number of formalities and documents. An uneducated farmer or a daily wage earner may not be able to successfully complete all these procedures.

Major Concerns

1. Farmer Suicides 2. Sale of farm lands for commercial purposes. 3. Change of occupation by the farmers 4. Over-emphasis on cash crops over food crops 5. Issue of Indebtedness 6. Effective Implementation of Governmental Policies Possible Solutions

1. Dependency of agriculture on nature should be reduced. This can be done by effective implementation of water management techniques by the government.

2. The institutionalized funds should be made available to the maximum farmers. The farmers must be monitored and advised with regard to the utilization of such funds.

3. The farmers should be provided with technical support to enhance the agricultural productivity.

4. The World Trade Organization forced the India to decrease its subsidies whereas the developed nations have been privileged to provide agricultural subsidies to their farmers. India definitely needs to take some diplomatic actions at the world forum to protects its farmers.

5. Organic farming must be encouraged. The government must subsidize organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers.

6. In 1998, World Bank’s structural adjustment policies forced the government to replace farm saved seeds with corporate seeds. The Indian farmers are forced to buy the high-priced seeds manufactured by the multinationals.

7. Farmers with small land holdings must be encouraged to pursue community farming.

8. The farmers should be provided with direct instead of indirect subsidies.

9. The excessive powers of the money lenders must be checked.

10. There is a need for social and cultural awakening with in the village communities. This may be done by providing elementary education and vocational training to the farmers and their families.

Conclusion

Indian farmers have remained an ignored entity since 1991. Their hard work is seldom appreciated by their compatriots. Ironically the people who provide us with food and cloth, are deprived of it. Usually, a farmer is the only earning member in his family; his death leaves his family in destitution.

If the issue remains unaddressed it is a large possibility that India would soon emerge as a food deficient country. Probably we would have Mc. Donalds on national highways but would need to import wheat from aboard for our daily consumption.

Read more

I’m dating you doesn’t mean you can date rape me.

Sara went to a bar to party with few of her friends. When she went to rest room one of her friends. Jacob carefully poured a colorless, odorless and tasteless powder in her drink. Coming back she consumed the drugged drink without knowing its consequences. Next morning she found herself in the bed of the accused. Under the effect of the drug she knew about nothing that had happened the previous night.  The accused possessed some photographs of the previous night, which he used to threaten and blackmail the victim. The victim was victimized for months and due to the fear and guilt she remained silent and confided in nobody. Ultimately she committed suicide to get rid of this miserable condition. This story may become a reality in life of any woman. Date rape is something we feel would never happen to us but it is a dangerous mistake to believe so.

It is unfortunate that many victims of date rape or acquaintance rape commit suicide. Recently a 15 year old girl committed suicide when she was gang raped by her boy friend and his friends. Bijal Joshi rape case which formed the headlines in 2004 was no exception. The lower court has recently awarded the five accused (Sajal Jain, Sugam Jaiswal, Ashok Jaiswal, Chandan Jaiswal and Karan Jain with life imprisonment. Bijal Joshi (24 years) was allegedly raped by her boy friend Sajal Jain and his four friends on the New Year’s Eve in a room at Hotel Ashok Palace, Ahemdabad. When the police took no notice of her complaints, she committed suicide leaving a suicide letter which mentioned the names of all the accused.

It is estimated that around 70,000 college students in the United States are victims of drug rapes or sexual assault every year. Mostly drugs like Rohynol, Ketamine and GHB are administered to commit such crimes. They are also known as predator’s drugs or club drugs. Their effects are generally permanent and a woman may not be able to conceive ever if administered such drugs.

Rohynol:

1. Its effect starts within 10 minutes of ingestion which can continue up to eight hours.

2. It may cause difficulty in walking, nausea, confusion, dizziness, muscle relaxation, slurred speech and impaired judgement.

3. However it is banned in U.S., it is legal in almost 60 countries including U.K. and Mexico as it is used as a medicine for insomnia.

Ketamine:

1. It is administered through injections in veterinary practice .

2. Causes hallucinations, numbness, aggressive behaviour, vomiting and dream-like effects.

3. It is available in both liquid and powder form.

GHB:

1. It is available in powder or liquid form and is easily slipped into a drink.

2. It causes unconsciousness, dizziness, drowsiness,sweating, nausea and respiratory problems.

3. Although the drug is odorless and colorless, it is quite salty.

How to protect yourself?

Don’t accept or share drinks. Never leave your drink unattended, even if you are going to the washroom. If you find something suspicious in your drink pour it out immediately. Have a non-drinking friend with you at a party. Don’t hesitate to take help, if you feel you have been drugged. Choose taking drinks from a closed container and not from a pitcher.

What must be done by a date-rape victim?

1. If you believe that you are a victim of date rape take medical help. A urine test within 72 hours of the administration of the drug would reveal the presence of drug in your system.

2. Inform the police. To avoid any sort of harassment by police, consult and take help of  a N.G.O .

3. Don’t hold yourself responsible for the tragedy. Counseling would definitely help you to get over your guilt.

4. Suicide is no option. It is not the victim but the perpetrator who deserves punishment.

Indian Penal Code

Although we don’t have any specific laws related to Date Rape or acquaintance rape, the section 375 of Indian Penal Code, clearly states that sexual intercourse without the consent of victim is considered to be rape. It further states that, if consent for sexual intercourse is obtained by intoxication; then also rape would be deemed to have occurred. The minimum punishment for rape as prescribed under Section 376 is seven years. Hence a victim may take the benefit of the above section.

Criticism

It is unfortunate that some people believe that rape was justified if a woman asks the male out. Some of the perpetrators claim that they had right to have sex with their victims. Both the arguments are highly flawed; a man does not own his date. It is not obligatory on a woman to have sex with her partner. A relationship does not necessarily mean sexual relationship.

To prevent date rape a woman must be vigilant and careful. “Betrayal occurs only where there is presence of trust.” Both young males and females must be taught about sexuality in educational institutions. The risk factors and legal consequences related to rape must be discussed with students. It is the moral responsibility of every individual to inform police, if he or she feels that a woman is administered a club drug.

Read more