New Delhi | 01 Jan 2018
Just as the nation was about to enter 2018 with a hope for farmers, the news of suicide by a farmer Dhaniram Kushwah in the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh flashed. He had hung himself from a tree near his home. Successive droughts leading to unemployment were said to be the reasons behind the suicide.
Dhaniram’s father told media that “There was no income from the crops for the past 2-3 years and this year too fields dried up in the present Rabi season as there was no water”.
Some villager’s told, “Dhaniram Kushwah also tried to seek employment through MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme, but couldn’t get it”.
Things have not changed in Madhya Pradesh. In 2017 itself, 12 farmers committed suicide in Sehore district alone. Just two days before Dhaniram Kushwah committed suicide, another farmer in Sehore district had also killed himself.
As the news of suicide of Kushwah flashed on 29th Dec 2017 evening, I remembered Sumit, a young farmer in mid twenties from the same Tikamgarh district, who drove me home in the Ola Cab a day before.
As I made out from his dialect that he would be from bundelkhand region, I asked about the condition there.
He said, “Promised very high, delivered zero.”
“There is no water and farmers are in worst condition. Nothing has changed in three years of Modi government”, he spoke expressing disdain to government.
“Two months back, farmers went to Tikamgarh Collectorate to declare the region drought hit but they were made to strip by the police”, he said.
“What do you do?” I asked.
“What would I do?” He replied.
“See, a farmer with 3 acres of land driving a cab here”, he said with a smile.
“Didn’t you sow wheat this season?”
“We sowed two sacks of seed, a sack means 50 kg of wheat”, he told.
“How much a sack of seed cost?”
“There is a local system. For a 50 kg sack of seed, we have to return 60 kg wheat produce for it after the harvest”, he said.
“But it all ended up in total loss”, he said with pain in his voice.
“Now, we will have to purchase wheat from market to return two sacks of wheat and also for our own consumption. What can be more painful for a farmer”? , he said.
“We spent nearly 80 thousand rupees for a tube well boring. But it failed. There was no water even at 250 feet depth. And the wheat crop failed. It just dried up”, he told.
With a grief, he added, “I would not be able to feed my family and pay off my debts if I had been there. Therefore, I am here and driving cab. To fight it out, I have been coming here to drive cabs in between for last two years. Had I not spent the money in tube well boring, I would have at least got a small car financed for myself and attach with Ola”.
But sir, it’s unfortunate that with three acres of land, I am driving a cab here away from home.
There was a suffering which would be even more but he told in just 15 minutes. Still, he dropped me with a smile and I wished him best. He was polite and drove carefully.
All I could do for him was a 5 star rating in the feedback to Ola.