MUMBAI, INDIA, October 29, 2011 (The Hindu): The country has seen over a quarter of a million farmers' suicides between 1995 and 2010. The National Crime Records Bureau's latest report on 'Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India' places the number for 2010 at 15,964. That brings the cumulative 16-year total from 1995 -- when the NCRB started recording farm suicide data -- to 256,913, the worst-ever recorded wave of suicides of this kind in human history.
Maharashtra posts a dismal picture with over 50,000 farmers killing themselves in the country's richest State in that period. It also remains the worst State for such deaths for a decade now. Close to two-thirds of all farm suicides have occurred in five States: Maharashtra, Karnataka, A.P., Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The data show clearly that the last eight years were much worse than the preceding eight. On average, the number of farmers killing themselves each year between 2003 and 2010 is 1,825 higher than the numbers that took their lives in the earlier period from 1995 - 2002. Which is alarming since the total number of farmers is declining significantly. Compared to the 1991 Census, the 2001 Census saw a drop of over seven million in the population of cultivators (main workers). In other words, farm suicides are rising through the period of India's agrarian crisis, even as the number of farmers is shrinking.
[HPI note: Suicides happen due to extreme poverty and unpayable debts. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmers'_suicides_in_India ]