ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Understanding Farmer Suicides

Political Economy of Uncaring

Shadow Spaces: Suicides and the Predicament of Rural India by A R Vasavi; Three Essays Collective, 2012; pp 229, Rs 350 (paperback).

Responding to a parliamentary question on farmer suicides recently, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar declared suicides had declined drastically. However, subsequent media reports suggested otherwise, pointing to newer forms of denial with state governments refusing to register suicides. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which has been monitoring farmer suicides closely in the region, suggested that the figures for Vidarbha alone (512) were over four times more than those quoted by Pawar for Maharashtra in 2012.

Behind the numbers, debate is a serious question and paradox. Why is it that India, which has arguably the largest number of farmers in the world, spends little time discussing its worst agrarian crisis? Why are farmer suicides not considered “newsworthy”? What makes us treat them as “distant strangers”? How do we find ourselves as academics, citizens, policymakers, agricultural researchers as part of this silence and “political economy of uncaring”?

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