Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Grand event for Thakre has Tiwari fuming
Publication: Times Of India Nagpur; Date: Aug 28, 2008;

Nagpur: A grand event slated for Friday at Yavatmal to welcome newly-appointed president of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee Manikrao Thakre has kicked off a controversy with farmers' leader Kishor Tiwari questioning the propriety of the lavish show in the district known as the epicentre of the farmers' suicide crisis in Vidarbha.

The function to be held at Azad Maidan will be attended by chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, new chairman of the Congress campaign committee Gurudas Kamat, Mumbai Congress' new chief Kripashankar Singh as well as MPCC's new working president Jayant Awale. It will be the first formal function in Vidarbha to welcome all the newly appointed state party leaders. Since Yavatmal is the home district of Thakre, the district's party unit has sought to host the function.

Criticising the Congress for holding the mega event, Tiwari, who is also the president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, has threatened to storm the venue with a large number of widows of the farmers who have committed suicide. He has also threatened to take up the matter with AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi who brought into national focus the plight of widow Kalavati and farm labourer Shashikala in his parliamentary speech on July 22 during the trust vote debate.

But Thakre was unimpressed. "What's wrong with it? It's a party function and people of my district are welcoming me," he said. Talking to ToI from Mumbai on Wednesday, Thakre said the function stands and the chief minister and other dignitaries will be attending it. "Actually, I have no idea about the scale of arrangements for the function. But I expect it to be a normal party affair," said Thakre, justifying the event.

However, Tiwari thinks otherwise. "A grand function is being arranged and the Congress is mobilising lakhs of people to gather crowds for the extravaganza for which huge amount of money is being spent," said Tiwari. "This Congress event is nothing by rubbing salt on the wounds of the suicide-hit people of the district," said Tiwari in a press statement.

"Over a thousand farmers have committed suicide in Yavatmal district, largely because of the economic distress caused by the Congress-led government's wrong policy decisions relating to agriculture. But instead on providing a healing touch, the Congress is engaged in a wasteful show off of its strength," remarked Tiwari. He also claimed to have persuaded the Congress leaders from scaling down the event, but in vain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

vidarbha farmers suicides

Left behind: Debt relief brings little respite for vidarbha-India’s farmers-The Financial Times

Left behind: Debt relief brings little respite for India’s farmers

By Joe Leahy and Arush Chopra in Mumbai

Published: August 24 2008 18:44 | Last updated: August 24 2008 18:44

Indian farmers

Afew years ago, Kalawati Bandurkar (pictured above) was just another Indian farmer eking out a back-breaking existence from a few acres of land. Life was hard – but this was true for everyone in the village of Jalka in Vidarbha region, a remote corner of India’s western Maharashtra state.

Then events took a tragic turn. Kalawati’s husband, Parashuram, who had long been preoccupied by the family’s crippling debt burden, began acting strangely. Often he would just sit by the road, running over the numbers in his head, wondering how he was going to repay his loans as well as marry off his seven daughters and buy seeds for the next cotton crop.

Video: India’s farmer suicide capital


Rising cultivation costs and crippling debts have forced more than 90,000 people in India to commit suicide since 2001

When he took his own life, he joined an estimated 5,000 farmers to have done so in Maharashtra since 2004, many of them in Vidarbha, which today is known as India’s farmer suicide region. “He used to always walk around tense with his head in his hands, saying what am I to do – and then he did what he did,” says Kalawati, sitting flanked by her family of nine at her mud-and-thatch home.

That was three years ago. Last month, Kalawati’s fortunes underwent another dramatic shift when Rahul Gandhi, scion of the country’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty and a member of parliament with the ruling Congress party, turned up on her doorstep as part of a field trip to investigate rural poverty. Mr Gandhi mentioned Kalawati’s case as an example of rural hardship during a crucial vote in parliament on India’s civilian nuclear deal with the US. The shy and illiterate widow is now known across the country by her first name.

Mr Gandhi’s visit was carefully timed. India’s Congress-led ruling coalition must hold an election before May next year. It knows its fate rests not with the prosperous middle classes of India’s booming cities but in the hands of the more than 70 per cent of India’s 1.1bn population who live in rural areas. Of these, most are heavily indebted “small and marginal” farmers, like Kalawati.

To win them over, Congress announced this year possibly the biggest direct handout in India’s history – a Rs710bn ($16.2bn, €11bn, £8.7bn) bank loan waiver for bankrupt farmers. The scheme, which is being implemented now, is costing around 1.7 per cent of gross domestic product.

In his Independence Day speech on August 15, Manmohan Singh, prime minister, went so far as to describe Congress’s rural initiatives, particularly the loan waiver, as a “New Deal” for farmers – evoking the social spending programme of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt during America’s Great Depression. “Our effort at increasing investment in rural areas and reducing the debt burden of farmers has turned our agricultural economy around,” Mr Singh said. “Our farms are once again green. Our godowns are once again filling up. Our farmers are once again hopeful about their future and their welfare.”

The speech left many analysts in India wondering whether Mr Singh was talking about the same country. Not only is the loan waiver scheme dangerously flawed, they argue, but the government needs to do more to address the fundamental cause of India’s rural poverty – too many people tilling plots of land that are too small to sustain them.

The mathematics behind the crisis in India’s agricultural sector are simple. Agriculture’s contribution to GDP fell from 42 per cent in 1970 to half that by 2001. Yet the percentage of India’s workforce engaged directly in agriculture declined by much less during roughly the same period – from 73.9 per cent in 1973 to 56.5 per cent in 2005. This means more than half the national workforce is producing only a fifth of GDP.

“The most important structural feature of the agricultural sector in India is the continuous decline in the share of agriculture in total gross domestic product, [together with the] very slow diversification of [the] workforce away from agriculture,” said a report on farmer indebtedness prepared for the government by R. Radhakrishna, a former director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai.

This has been accompanied by the fragmentation of family land as the population has grown. According to the Radhakrishna report, the number of land holdings in India has almost doubled to 101m in the 22 years to 2003, while the cultivated area declined 19 per cent during the same period to 108m hectares. About three-quarters of these holdings are owned by small and marginal farmers yet, despite being by far the most numerous, they own less than a quarter of India’s total agricultural land.

Another problem is stagnating productivity due to poor fertiliser use and a lack of investment in irrigation. After 61 years of independence, only 40 per cent of Indian farmland is irrigated. Yields for crops such as rice have been virtually flat in the past five years while for wheat they have declined. Reforms to encourage farmers to diversify into cash crops, such as cotton, have also exposed them to world markets without adequate insurance to protect them from crop failure and global price fluctuations.

Srijit Mishra, an associate professor at the Indira Gandhi Institute who worked on the Radhakrishna report and is writing a book on India’s rural crisis, calculates that, on average, farmers make a return of only Rs8 (about 18 US cents) per person per household a day. “We are in a very critical situation. It has reached what you might call epidemic proportions,” Mr Mishra warns.

One symptom of the urgency of the problem is that many farmers, like Kalawati’s husband, are committing suicide. By 2005, according to the Radhakrishna report, Indian farmers were over a third more likely to take their own lives than the average city dweller. In total, between 2001 and 2005, nearly 90,000 farmers committed suicide in India.

It was to counter this trend that the government launched the loan waiver. Announced in February and implemented in June, the scheme applies only to bankrupt farmers with five acres or less – those with more land are entitled to relief for up to a quarter of their loans. It covers loans from institutions taken out before March 31, 2007 but not loans from local moneylenders – a crucial omission according to critics.

Agriculture sectorH.N. Sinor, the outgoing chairman of the Indian Banks’ Association, worries that the scheme, which the government claims has benefited 40m landowners, could damage the “credit culture” among farmers. A similar programme in the 1980s led to many farmers neglecting repayments on loans taken out after the cut-off date, forcing banks to take harsh recovery action. “When we see the results for this financial year, only then will we get a real feel of the problem,” Mr Sinor says.

Equally concerning, say analysts, is whether the waiver reached those who needed it most: small and marginal farmers, most of whom borrow large sums at exorbitant rates from local moneylenders. The tight grip of the moneylender is an enduring feature of Indian village life, immortalised in Hindi films such as the 1957 epic Mother India.

Jayati Ghosh, an academic at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru university, sees the waiver scheme as a missed opportunity. “What the government should have done was to set up a debt commission that could identify the distressed farmers and make the exercise more targeted.”

Economists say the key policy problem for India’s rural sector is an emphasis on blanket subsidies, such as the loan waiver and another one for fertilisers, at the expense of long-term investment. “On paper, over Rs1,500bn is spent [by the government] on agriculture but, out of that, up to Rs1,200bn is subsidy. There is no capital investment,” says Mohan Guruswamy, chairman of the Centre for Policy Alternatives in New Delhi.

Mr Mishra argues that investment in alternative occupations to help farmers to earn more income from non-farming sources is the only long-term solution to India’s agricultural crisis. Initially, this could be from industries directly related to the farmers’ production, such as processing centres for cotton or oilseed. But ultimately, modern industries must be developed in regional cities to provide more jobs for surplus labour from the surrounding rural areas.

The case of Kalawati’s husband illustrates the danger of putting in place perverse incentives for farmers. Villagers claim he committed suicide in the hope that his family would qualify for a Rs100,000 grant given by the state government to the bereaved in such cases.

It seems his sacrifice was in vain. Kalawati says she never saw the money. She is now bearing a debt burden of Rs90,000 – which has grown 50 per cent since her husband’s death. Nor does she qualify for the loan waiver as she is essentially landless and her debts are to moneylenders.

Kishore Tiwari, a rural activist in Vidarbha, argues that the government needs to ensure the region’s cotton farmers receive a decent price for their produce. The commodity used to be known as “white gold” in the area until the US started subsidising its cotton production, leading to a crash in global prices, he claims. “The loan waiver is not practically workable, so what is the use of it?” he says. He has seized on Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Kalawati to turn her into a cause célèbre for the farmers and she seems to have grown into the role.

At a farmers’ rally in Vidarbha, she gives an impassioned speech before dissolving into tears. Back at her hut, where a giant poster of Rahul Gandhi flaps in the wind, she lists her demands – a minimum price from the government for cotton, better irrigation and the Rs100,000 state compensation for her husband’s death.

Thanks to Mr Gandhi, for Kalawati at least there is some relief. At her home, one of her daughters is busily working on a sewing machine donated by the local branch of Congress after Mr Gandhi’s visit, while a son tinkers with a new bicycle. A charity has also agreed to give her family Rs25,000 a month, a princely sum in Jalka.

Yet most of India’s rural millions will continue to suffer until government policy becomes more far-sighted, analysts say. The birth of the next generation of villagers will further fragment farmland, forcing more hungry farmers to migrate to cities where infrastructure is already collapsing under the population pressure.

In Vidarbha, some are already contemplating a career change. One of Kalawati’s neighbours, Nitin Khadse, wryly jokes that selling water is more profitable than farming in India. “A bottle of water costs Rs15 a litre, while a litre of milk from my cows for which I work so hard fetches only Rs10, so I’ve been telling people get out of milk and into the water trade,” he says.

With additional reporting by James ­Fontanella-Khan

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pest attack in vidarbha destroyed standing soybean crop in 3.2 million hector :As per Govt. Survey total losses are more than Rs.500 crore


11, Trisaran Society, In front of Somalwar School, Kamala, Nagpur – 440 025

Tel No. (0712) 2282457 Mob No. 9422108846 / 9371137653 / 9373121947

(Regd Office : At Post : Pandharkawada-445 302, Tq : Kelapur, Distt : Yavatmal)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------

Ref-Vidarbha Farm Crisis-2008 URGENT- PRESS-NOTE Dated-24th august,08

Pest attack in vidarbha destroyed standing soybean crop in 3.2 million hector :As per Govt. Survey total losses are more than Rs.500 crore

5 more Farm Suicides in vidarbha last three days –VJAS demands immediate relief

Nagpur-24th august 2008

Massive pest attack titled by administration in Marathi as “attack of lakshari kidi(soldier worm)” has literally eaten away the standing soybean crop in more than 3 million hector in vidarbha resulting five more farm suicides in last three ,identified as






Agriculture Commissioner of Maharashtra Prabhakar Deshmukh after touring east vidarbha has confirmed the huge losses and massive destruction due to pest attack which was beyond the control of any pest management now this “attack of lakshari kidi(soldier worm)” has shifted to cotton crop and cotton crop under 2.8 million hector are threat of destruction in vidarbha, Kishor Tiwari President Of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti informed in a press release.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti(VJAS) has urged Indian govt. to arrange the visit of expert to look in to fresh agriculture crisis and arrange for immediate relief aid to the farmers who lost soybean crop due to pest attack .VJAS also urged Maharashtra Govt. to provide minimum food security and health care and rural employment or direct subsidy to dying farmers in order to stop further suicides of already distressed vidarbha farmers, Kishor Tiwari who spoke to Maharashtra chief minister vilasrao deshmukh on phone today requested him to visit vidarbha and announce immediate relief to dying farmers.

Vidarbha is under severe agrarian crisis since June-2005 that after after drop in cotton prices due to dumping of highly subsidies US cotton in India in jan-2005 followed by withdrawal price protection under cotton monopoly scheme by Maharashtra Govt. of congress-NCP .Vidarbha is witnessing continuing farmer suicides despite the Prime Minister's 3,750 crore-rupee relief package as well as the 71,000 crore-rupee farm-loan waiver announced in the Budget as Govt. failed to save dying rural economy of the nation the cash crop of Indian farmers are in huge losses were as food crop cultivation is not being protected and promoted of due to ill interest of ministers and babus , kishor tiwari added.


Please arrange to release this press note

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,





Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Farmers' suicides continue in Vidarbha

Farmers' suicides continue in Vidarbha

Saturday, August 16, 2008, (Wardha, Maharashtra)

Twenty-one farmers have committed suicide in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra in the last fortnight, and these are official figures.

The distressing situation in the region had pushed the UPA government to announce a loan waiver.

Ashish Jadhav is left with only memories of his parents. He lost his mother to cancer, his father, faced with massive loan for his wife's treatment, took his own life last week. Now Ashish is left with both land and a massive loan.

"He had to repay a private loan of Rs 60-70,000. They used to come asking for money. He had none, only promises, said Ashish Jadhav, son of the deceased farmer.

Ashish's father is among 21 farmers in Vidarbha who have committed suicide in the last fortnight. This despite the UPA's loan waiver announced in February.

Hollow promise?
  • Only a handful of farmers have received the money to date
  • Because local banks are yet to receive the bulk of funds
  • Even worse, many here didn't qualify the for waiver
  • The average land holding is above the 2 hectare cut off

    Meanwhile, the death dance continues, there were 315 suicides in Vidarbha in the last six months alone.

    No wonder tillers like Pandurang Jadhav are living on the edge.

    "We got the loan waiver but did they get fresh loans? No they didn't, consequently they had to look out for other sources for loan," said Pandurang Jhade, farmer, Wardha District.

    Those who did qualify, received the money after the sowing season, pushing them further into the arms of money lenders.

    And with the monsoon arriving several weeks late, things could only get bleaker.

  • © Copyright NDTV Convergence Limited 2008. All Rights Reserved.


    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    Vidarbha Farmer packages failed to lower suicides: panel IE and Only 20% Vidarbha farmers got loan waiver benefit'-TNN

    Vidarbha Farmer packages failed to lower suicides: panel IE and Only 20% Vidarbha farmers got loan waiver benefit'-TNN

    Vidarbha farmer packages failed to lower suicides: panel

    Express news service

    Posted online: Friday, August 08, 2008 at 2337 hrs IST

    The one-member committee of Narendra Jadhav, Vice-Chancellor, Pune University, formed to analyse the implementation of packages for farmers in Maharashtra, has pointed out that the schemes have not been effective in bringing down the rate of farmers’ suicide.

    “Although the packages announced by the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister are good in terms of long-term benefits, they have failed to provide direct relief to the farmers,” the committee observed in its report, submitted to the state Government on Tuesday.

    At a press conference on Wednesday, Jadhav pointed out that while in 2006, 1,448 farmers committed suicide, in 2007 the number came down to 1,241. “Suicides decreased by merely 200 which is not a drastic change. It is a failure of the Government agency,” he said.

    The Jadhav Committee was set up on November 13, 2007, by the Maharashtra Government to analyse the implementation of its Rs 1,075-crore package announced in December 2005 and Rs 3,750-crore package declared by the Prime Minister

    The Times of India -Breaking news

    'Only 20% Vidarbha farmers got loan waiver benefit'

    8 Aug 2008, 0533 hrs IST,TNN

    NAGPUR: The report submitted by economist and Pune university vice chancellor Narendra Jadhav has pointed out that the much-hyped Rs 71,000 crore loan waiver scheme has benefited fewer farmers in the distressed and suicide-hit Vidarbha region than it has in prosperous western Maharashtra.

    The state had appointed the one-man commission in November last to review implementation of the state and the PM's relief packages, the farmers' suicide issue and the agrarian crisis in the state. The report, which was presented before the state cabinet on Tuesday has claimed that only a little more than 20% farmers from Vidarbha have benefited from the debt-waiver as against an almost 54% in western Maharashtra, raising serious doubts over equal distribution of the waiver scheme's benefits.

    Jadhav, it is learnt, has in his report recommended that loans up to Rs 50,000 per farmer be waived in all parts of the state except western Maharashtra, where the ceiling should be retained at Rs 20,000. It has also recommended that debt taken before March 31, 1997 must be made eligible for the package. This demand has been made by the state government too.

    The report calls for doing away with the eligibility criterion of holding size for farmers in dry land which could make than 80% of the state's farmers eligible for the concession since barely 18% of Maharashtra is irrigated. The third recommendation pertains to the debt taken by farmers in fiscal 2007-08 which is not eligible for the package. The report suggests that these loans, if they can't be waived, be at least rescheduled so that these farmers become eligible for fresh credit.