Suicide of farmers in Maharashtra - Background Papers

This paper has three parts: 

  • The first, an analysis of 192 news reports in a Marathi daily, Deshonnati, cites 320 cases of farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra reported during 2004. A study of circumstances reveals multiple risk factors – economic downfall, agrarian crisis, and social disgrace among others. Indebtedness, a manifestation of economic downfall, becomes acute with reliance on moneylenders. A comparison of news reports with government investigation indicates scope for subjective interpretation in the latter.
  • The second part, on issues highlighted by the media in general, identifies several problems: adverse developments affecting the Monopoly Cotton Procurement Scheme (MCPS) since the mid-1990s, increasing price (and also yield) risk and reducing profitability in Cotton cultivation, withdrawal of the state from the rural agrarian scenario and the questions of market-driven Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) versus cost-saving organic cotton.
  • The third part is on suicide reportage, suggesting that media follow the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines of DOs and DONTs.