With 60 percent of the India’s population working in agriculture, the sector has since long been hit by the suicide crisis. The 2019 data from the National Crime Records Bureau indicates that 10,281 people dependent on agriculture killed themselves (i.e. approximately 7.4 per cent of India’s total suicide victims; pointing out an average of 28 farmer suicides every single day). The reasons behind this crisis range from debt, low production prices, family responsibilities, increased cost of cultivation, crop failures, droughts etc.
This continuing socio-economic crisis in addition to the effects of the pandemic has gravely affected the agricultural sector of India. The additional anti-worker liberalization policies such as the three farm laws introduced by the Government of India will only intensify the present inequalities. While farmers unions and allied organizations have been protesting for almost 7 months, the onset of the harvesting season has led to a reduced number of trolleys and farmers at the protest sites. The numbers are expected to be back in May after the end of the harvesting season.
The farmers believe that if power is tilted further towards private players such as large agricultural food corporations, the current crises will be visibly more harrowing for the smallholder farmers. Thus, the ongoing farmers protest is symbolic of the assertion of agency by the farmers as they refuse to be marginalized.
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