Indian farm suicides- key facts and figures
The National Crime Records Bureau's all-India figure for farm suicides 1995-2010 is 256,913.
First 8 years 1995-2002: 121,157 farm suicides
Second 8 years 2003-10: 135,756 farm suicides
Pawar, Agriculture Minister's home state of Maharashtra [where Bt cotton has had a huge uptake] has by far the worst record in the country with 50,481 farm suicides between 1995-2010. That is, 1995-2002: 20,066 and for 2003-10 [the period in which Bt cotton has been cultivated]: 30,415
*The last 8 years were significantly worse with an annual average of 1832 farm suicides, higher than the first 8 years.
*Until November 30 2007, the Government of India (GoI) and the Agriculture Minister used NCRB data on farm suicides in their replies in Parliament. However, after that the government and the minister abandoned using data from the NCRB, which is in fact a division of the Union Home Ministry and the only authentic source of suicide figures nationally whether it be for farmers, students or anyone else.
*As the figures grew worse, the government started suppressing NCRB data and instead started using arbitrary figures from bureaucrats. Interestingly to this day, GoI uses NCRB data for the other categories, but not for farmers.
*Using arbitrary state figures and estimates has led to GoI giving two very different estimates to the Rajya Sabha (Council of States, the upper house of the Parliament of India) in the same week! – see How to be an eligible suicide: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article428367.ece The Hindu, May 13 2010. Unlike the states, NCRB has no vested interest in covering up the numbers.
*"Why are the state government figures so much lower? Because they set up IMPOSSIBLE criteria to prove that a suicide is a farmer's suicide and just be considered for compensation. For instance: In Andhra Pradesh, a family would have to get no less than 13 pieces of documentation approved at various levels in order to establish this! These include five from the local police station, including a post-mortem report the family ends up paying for... Maharashtra made it even more impossible, setting up committees that soon earned themselves the name 'rejection committees' which divided the deaths into 'genuine suicides' and 'non-genuine suicides'. Note that in either case, the victim was just as dead. The dispute was over whether his or her death constituted a 'genuine' farm suicide driven by distress. In some months, not a single one in some districts would be accepted as a 'genuine' farm suicide (Sainath).