In a country where 50% of the population depends directly or indirectly upon agriculture; whose late revered bharat ratna PM Lal Bahadur Shastri gave the slogan, “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan”, farming is probably the only profession where the farmer doesn’t want his son/daughter to become a farmer. You can become anybody; can do anything but not farming. Farming is seen as a lowly job & the understanding is that the farmers are not only illiterate but have less mental capacity compared to others. Consequently, percentage of population involved in farming dropped from 75% in 1950s to 50% in 2020.
Coronavirus outbreak & the subsequent lockdowns stalled Indian economy by forcing closure of factories and offices. Agriculture was the only bright spot & grew at 3.4% in Q1 FY-2021. Farmers, however, suffered huge losses due to increased input/labour cost & lockdown restrictions. In lockdown, farmers were so constricted that they were only able to bring a small fraction of their produce to the market & had to sell them in throwaway prices.
It’s not only ironical but sad that the very human being who is feeding others is living below poverty line. Farmer suicides account for 11% of all suicides in India. This is when many states, UTs have not been providing details of farmer suicides; & many states & UTs are reporting ‘nil’ data on farmer suicides as per Home Ministry.
Activists and scholars have offered a number of reasons for farmer suicides, such as anti farmer laws, high debt burdens, poor government policies, corruption in subsidies etc. but are the politicians or the system the only one to be blamed or have we as a society failed our farmers?
Farming is not a profession but a way of living. It’s not a 9 – 5 or 5 days a week job; a farmer takes care of it’s produce like we take care of our kids. Closest to the nature, farming is like meditating; beyond day & time & so it is as spiritual as it can get. Farming may not make you wealthy but you’ll be more richer than any other business tycoon on this planet because seeing your kids bloom is the best feeling in this world.
I am sorry, I chose to be a farmer; I am sorry for not earning enough & letting my people down; I’ll definitely not let my progeny get into farming but if I ever get a second chance to live this life, I’ll tread this path again because there is nothing more fulfilling than producing & providing food to others.
Proud to be a farmer & would be proud to die as one.
“Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan”.