India: Give urgent relief to the distressed farmers in Tamil Nadu

It is very necessary that the ministers and senior bureaucrats  should visit the families of farmers  who have committed suicide to console them and reassure the farmer community that they are not alone.


by N.S.Venkataraman

( January 3, 2017, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is highly disturbing to read news about the number of farmers who are committing suicide due to drought conditions and consequent whithering away of crops  in delta region in Tamil Nadu.  Media is reporting such deaths and counting numbers , with no indication that the Tamil Nadu government is initiating any urgent measures to save the distressed farmers.

Proactive measures initiated not adequate :

It is  known that the farmers are highly vulnerable to the climate and weather conditions,  apart from exploitation by the middle men in getting fair realization for their produce.

The country has been  discussing about the severe problems faced by the farmers and the uncertainty in their lives for the last seventy years after Independence.

The governments have initiated several proactive measures such as crop insurance scheme , kisan card etc. and is also providing technological support in disseminating information about weather forecast, soil fertility conditions etc.,

The suicides by the farmers only highlight the intensity of their distress and sufferings and prove that the measures initiated by the government are not adequate and are not matching their needs.

Farmers with small holdings most hit :

The farmers can be divided into several segments such as the absentee landlords who provide land on lease (who call themselves as farmers) , farmers with large holdings as well as  small holdings. There are also other category like agriculture labour who do not own land but are tillers and who depend on the prosperity of agriculture farms for their survival.

The  farmers who tend to commit suicides are  mostly those who have small land holdings and who do not have much of savings and who lead  hand to mouth existence. They are the most vulnerable section amongst the farmer community.  A careful study and investigation would clearly reveal that all the suicides happen amongst such vulnerable farmers.

Lack of forward planning by government :

Often, the government comes to the aid of such distressed farmers and provide them sort of relief only after the damage is done.

The government rarely do any meaningful forward planning measures based on close monitoring to prevent such  unbearable distress conditions and suicides .

Because of such what appears to be the indifferent attitude  of the government,  farmers find that they have to necessarily protest  by way of public demonstration to draw the attention of the government to their plight. As a result, several farmers’ associations have now sprung up all over Tamil Nadu.

What Tamil Nadu government should do now ?

The drought conditions in delta region of Tamil Nadu is now real. Therefore, the Tamil Nadu government should immediately declare the delta region as drought prone area , without delaying even a day more.

Tamil Nadu government  should identify the farmers with land holdings less than five acres who are most vulnerable amongst the different segments of the farmer community.

Such farmers with small holdings should be given free ration, free education for their children and free electricity for their houses for the next six months . This should be done on a war footing.

Impact of the present distress conditions  would last for several years amongst the farmer’s families. Therefore,  it is necessary to  give the farmers with small holdings  long term relief by way of waiving all loans taken for agricultural purposes whether from government banks or private lenders.

Loan availed by these farmers , whether taken from banks or private lenders, should be written off and it should be made unlawful for the private lenders to insist on repayment of loan. Any legal issue in waiving the loan from the private lenders shall be dealt with in appropriate manner.

Most of the farmers commit suicide largely due to the extreme pressure applied on them by private money lenders who charge excessive interest and are ruthless in recovery of the interest and the loan.

The government should set up a counselling centre in various rural areas to prevent suicides amongst the farmers. The support of the agricultural associations should be sought by the government to identify such farmers in deep distress in quick time and bring them to the counselling centre. Further, the services of NGOs with expertise in   counselling  should also be availed by the government.

Gloom spreading around :

Government should realise  that  the reports of suicides amongst farmers is causing deep distress not only amongst their immediate family members but on citizens all over Tamil Nadu. This is shaking the morale of the people and is spreading an atmosphere of gloom all over Tamil Nadu.

It is very necessary that the ministers and senior bureaucrats  should visit the families of farmers  who have committed suicide to console them and reassure the farmer community that they are not alone.

Tamil Nadu government’s visible and positive action to alleviate the sufferings of the farmers with small land holdings should not be delayed.

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