Eminent journalist Sainath warns of ‘civilisational’ crisis
Thiruvananthapuram: Delivering the Sarathchandran Memorial Lecture at the 12th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, eminent journalist P Sainath said that we are witnessing not an agrarian but a societal or even a civilisational crisis.
“The government started fiddling with the farmer suicide data in 2013. In the following years, the methodology was changed, as a result of which farmers’ suicide fell by 50%, while the ‘others’ column went up by 128%.” He said that from 2016 onward, the government stopped the National Crime Records Bureau from publishing farmer suicide data. In 2017, the NCRB was shuttered and merged with the Bureau of Police Research and Development.
While more than 60 per cent of agrarian work is being done by women, they are not recognised as farmers. Hence women suicide in agriculture is massively underestimated, said Sainath, founder editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India. He slammed those who attribute farmers’ suicide to cases of depression, rather than economic factors, for failing to examine the real cause of this depression. He also said that most discussions on agriculture were now limited to the minimum support price and loan waiver.
However, it is not an entirely dismal scenario, as he glimpses hope in the long march of Maharashtrian farmers under the All India Kisan Sabha in 2018, the huge middle class sympathy it got in Mumbai, and in the government acceding to some of their demands.
The interactive session, organized as part of the film festival drew a large audience.