Many causes have been advanced why farmers are killing themselves. One is, they are killing themselves to get compensation. This disgusting explanation is in vogue in Maharashtra. What do you do with Rs. one lakh? Do you have a wild party when you are dead?

Another thing is they are called mentally unstable. Well, I might be mentally unstable and depressed if three people in my family have killed themselves and one is starving. However, the Government in its wisdom last year constituted a mano vaigyanik dal ( A team of medical experts). Psychiatrists, psychologists, some very good people, very fine people, highly qualified intellectuals, were sent to the villages to find out why the farmers are killing themselves. They did a lot of research and studies. Finally, one old farmer got up and addressed these top doctors from top institutions. He said typically in the Indian fashion: “Such an honour to have such big people come to my small village. I honour you. I touch your feet. You have asked us so many questions. You have given us such good advice. You have asked us this question: Do you drink too much? Do you fight with your wife? You have given us good advice. You have said: Do not drink too much. Do not fight with your wife. Do yoga. Remove your stress.” He said: “Ask us one more question. Ask us why the farmers of this country, who place the nation’s food on its table, are starving?” There was total silence.

One of the doctors told a journalist much later: “We shut up. There was nothing to say. We had all the answers but he had the right question.”


But the most major part of the writeup comes from Speaker’s Lecture Series: Parliament House, Sept. 6, 2007

The farm crisis: why have over one lakh farmers killed themselves in the past decade?

- P. Sainath(Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu )

For complete text of this lecture, please below.