Friday, April 27, 2007

Grapes of Wrath, and Suicide!

Why are Indian farmers commiting suicide? This lead article in the Times of India (April 26, 2007) may have an answer. I scan yesterday's papers which state that Indian farmers receive only one-fifth of what the consumer pays and the rest, four-fifth, is eaten away by the middlemen, the dalals. What a crying shame! Poor sods (excuse the bad pun), they produce 110 percent of the world's vegetables, and 15 percent of the world's fruits and, if the article is to be believed, the production cost here is virtually negligible, if at all anything.

And surprise, surprise, India acccounts for not even 1.7 percent of the world's trade in vegetables and 0.5 percent in fruits. The article points out that Indian farmers - the world's lower than susbsistence level agricultural producers - are debt-ridden, frustrated, and feeling cornered by the agent mafia. Also transport is costly and it cost three times to transport grapes from India to Netherlands than it does from Chile to Netherlands.

No wonder that suicide remains the only alternative open to these beleaguered class, the class from which you and I originate. Loans are available now to farmers, and what if they aren't able to pay back these loans? There is so much talk of waiving loans but is it an alternative? A government that distributes free money is doomed to failure, and again the UP government is moving in this direction in the run up to the elections.

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