Presently the Lok Sabha elections are going on in India in which about 815 million people will cast their votes to decide which political party will govern the country for the next five years. This time around, we will one of the voter communities rumbling and trying to express their discontent. This voter bloc is made up of farmers in the country that feel completely neglected by all political parties.
Increasing Farmer Suicides and NOTA
The sufferings of farmers in the country can be judged from the fact that from 1995, there have been 290,000 farmer suicides and this is a very rough figure with number likely to be much more than this. Now farmers have gained the power to reject all the candidates in their constituency by choosing none of the above option while casting their vote.
NOTA or None of the above gives farmers and everyone else in the country the option to reject any politician and do not have to select between worse or bad. Some of the main reasons for these farmer suicides are bureaucratic apathy as well as unfavorable economic policies of the government and none of the political parties has tried to address this issue during the latest elections campaigns.
Un-reported Farmer Suicides
The seriousness of the issue can be judged from the fact that suicide rate among farmers in agricultural sector is almost 3 times that of national average with many suicides remaining unreported. Many families try to hide the suicides since it may result in rejection of government compensation, suicide being considered a crime in the country and the social stigma attached to it.
Many suicides remain un-reported due to the definition of a farmer, which means someone who owns land. This leaves out agricultural workers and tenant farmers or women farmers who do not have land ownership. Farmers in India have been under tremendous pressure since liberalization started in 1991 and costs started to rise after foreign companies in Indian markets introduced genetically modified seeds.
Steps Taken by Political Parties
Political parties have been a failure in addressing this situation, starting from the ruling Congress government to regional governments like the BJP. Modi in one of his recent speeches has announced that recent condition in Vidarbha will be declared a national calamity. However, farmers are less likely to pay any attention to such promises that usually go unnoticed once elections are over.
We can summarize here by saying that it is prime time that political parties understand the distress of farmers and take steps to solve the issues otherwise there will be NOTA that will be used against them.