Sunday, February 23, 2014

Suicide rate rises among small farmers in Andra Pradesh

Ellen Barry reports from Bollikunta, India, in today's New York Times.  The headline is "After Farmers Commit Suicide, Debts Fall on Families in India."  The story speaks volumes about the urbanization of India--as well as about farm consolidation there.
India’s small farmers, once the country’s economic backbone and most reliable vote bank, are increasingly being left behind. With global competition and rising costs cutting into their lean profits, their ranks are dwindling, as is their contribution to the gross domestic product. If rural voters once made their plight into front-page news around election time, this year the large parties are jockeying for the votes of the urban middle class, and the farmers’ voices are all but silent. 
Even death is a stopgap solution, when farmers like Mr. Reddy take their own lives, their debts pass from husband to widow, from father to children. Ms. Musukula is now trying to scrape a living from the four acres that defeated her husband. Around her she sees a country transformed by economic growth, full of opportunities to break out of poverty, if only her son or daughter could grasp one.
Earlier posts on this topic of the rural-urban divide are here and here.  I saw a recent law review article on this topic, too: Gowri Janakiramanan, Protecting the Living Victims:  Evaluating the Impact of India's Farmer Suicide Crisis on Its Rural Woman, 20 William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 491 (2014).

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