India has a farmer suicide epidemic — and farmers are protesting new laws they fear will make things worse – Business Insider

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Protesters, including 20-year-old Sumandeep Kaur, are fighting for the repeal of three farming laws in India – Photo: Bhat Burhan / Business Insider Weekly
By Business Insider | INDIA |

Indian farmers are protesting three laws that they fear will threaten their livelihoods and cost lives.

The laws deregulate the buying and selling of agricultural goods, leading farmers to fear they will be exploited by corporations.

India has some of the highest farmer suicide rates in the world, and experts fear the crisis could worsen if the laws are not repealed.

India’s government is in talks with farmers who continue to block road and rail routes across the country.

Across India, farmers are demanding an end to new laws they say are not just threatening their livelihoods, but costing lives.

Protests that erupted in the state of Punjab have spread throughout the country as farmers demand a complete rollback of the three laws that were passed in September. Collectively, the laws deregulate the buying and selling of agricultural goods, leaving farmers exposed to the uncertainties of an open market and potential exploitation by corporations.

Meanwhile, record numbers of farmers in India are committing suicide, and experts fear the farming laws could drive even more people to the brink.

“The new laws that they have passed, we call them death warrants of farmers and laborers,” farmer Kewal Singh of Punjab said.

Agriculture sustains over 40% of the population in India. And as COVID-19 ravaged the country this year, it’s farmers who have kept India’s rural economy afloat.

But the majority of farms are small, family-run operations, often at the mercy of loan sharks.

“This is the kind of farming community which is incredibly vulnerable to all kinds of uncertainties,” said Vikram Patel, a professor at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health. “Many of these farmers don’t have any surety the banks demand in order to give them loans, so they borrow money from loan sharks, who are of course pretty ruthless. And if you pump your money back, well, they can be pretty dangerous to you or your family.”

Read the full story, India has a farmer suicide epidemic — and farmers are protesting new laws they fear will make things worse (The Business Insider, 8 Jan 2020), here

 

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