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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 1 New Delhi December 23, 2017 - Annual Number

Agrarian Crisis that Killed Farmers in Odisha

Sunday 24 December 2017


by Suranjita Ray

This Kharif season, Brown Plant Hoppers (BPH) have been particularly pestilent towards destroying paddy crops in most of the districts of Western Odisha. Twentyfour of Odisha’s thirty districts are affected. Experiences of drought and unseasonal rain followed the pest attack, adding to the debt burden and distress of the farmers that is beyond comprehension.

Bargarh district, known as the rice bowl of Odisha, has experienced the worst crisis. Huge acres of crops have been damaged by pests. The destroyed crops have been set on fire by many farmers. With the crops damaged, the burden of loan added to the distress of the farmers leaving them with no option but to commit suicide.

The enormity of the farmers’ suicides is not new in Odisha. As per the official reports, between 1997 and 2008, 3500-odd farmers had committed suicide. In Sambalpur and Bolangir districts, 40 farmers had committed suicide in 2009. Between 2001 and 2010, over 2600 farmers had committed suicide in Odisha. Between 2005 and 2014, as many as 1895 farmers had committed suicide in the State. During the drought in 2015, 138 farmers had committed suicide across the State, of which 40 deaths were in Bargarh district alone. Around 150 farmers committed suicide in Bargarh in the last one year. In fact, the last few years have seen an increase in the number of farmers’ suicides due to crop loss, increasing indebtedness, and utter distress. The ‘Right to Food’ campaign also ascertains that of the 30 suicide cases which were investigated in 12 districts of Odisha in 2016, 25 farmers had committed suicide due to crop failure and debts. (Joshi, 2016) 

The prolonged agrarian crisis has reached a torrid point as the total number of farmers’ suicides rose to 13 in the last one month. In Bargarh district, seven farmers have committed suicide by consuming pesticide/some poisonous substance, as the paddy grown by them was damaged by BPH. However, to view the increasing farmers’ suicides as merely a situation of crop loss due to pest attack and indebtedness, is to have only a glimpse of the problem which is much deeper.

The experiences of landlessness, hunger, deprivation and distress of farmers in Western Odisha, need to be understood as sites of conflicts that are constant, palpable, and unceasing over time. They explain a genealogy of the historical, social, economic, political, and cultural reality that has witnessed the establishment of institu-tions/structures of dominance and practices of control. Certain sections/communities of society are subject to systemic deprivation, alienation, marginalisation, impoverishment, exclusion, underdevelopment, and distress. Denial of rights of basic productive resources to the former has made the strategies to cope with crop loss, indebtedness, loss of land, and landlessness, difficult. While an increasing number of farmers’ suicides aroused public outrage, we also see complicity with the incompetent state.

Farmers’ suicides are not occurrences that are abrupt and unforeseen. They need to be explained in terms of their continuity. Several studies on the causes of farmers’ suicides reveal that the intensified crop loss, indebtedness/ debt trap, acute poverty and illness, alienation of land and landlessness, land transfers and distress sale of land to the money lenders and landlords are important determining factors for generating and sustaining conditions of the farmers’ deprivation and distress.

Farmers’ Suicide: A Recurring Phenomena

In different districts of Western Odisha, three farmers committed suicide within 24 hours during the fourth week of November. Pradeep Khamari of Behera village under Khuntapalli panchayat of Bargarh, Kanhu Munda of Mundapada village under Maneswar block of Sambalpur district, and Manoj Singh form Kuanrkela village under Hemgir block in Sundargarh district, committed suicide by consuming pesticide/ some poisonous substance due to damage of crops by pest attack. (The Hindu, 2017: 3) A day after, Jitendra Biswal of Bhanupur village of Balasore district also committed suicide allegedly due to crop loss caused by unseasonal rains.

In Bargarh district, Indra Bariha of Mala-munda village in Gaiselet committed suicide on October 25 and Jagdish Budek of Jalagarh in Paikmal committed suicide on October 27. Akshaya Dharai of Sadashib Nagar in Tora also killed himself by consuming pesticide on October 30 as the paddy crop cultivated in nine acres of land was damaged due to pest attack. Subash Dharei, the deceased farmer’s son, stated that his father had taken an agricultural loan of Rs 2 lakhs besides a loan for a power tiller. After the crop was affected by ‘chakada’/Matia Gundi (brown insect that reduces crops to dust) (BHP), he was depressed and thus killed himself. Damaged crops and alleged debt burden also forced Brunda Sahu to set his paddy field on fire a day before he consumed poison on November 1. He had taken a loan of around Rs 5 lakhs to cultivate an area of 15 acres. (Mohanty, 2017) His daughter said that the pesticides, which failed to kill the insects, killed her father. During the last few days, several farmers in Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Nuapada, Ganjam, Sambalpur, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Gajapati districts set fire to their pest-infected crops.

Earlier on November 3, unable to bear the crop loss due to pest attack in his 2.5 acres land, Alaya Jena of Arendra village under the Sanakhe-mundi block of Ganjam district, consumed poison. He died while undergoing treatment on November 4. Rajendra Bhuyan of Baulajholi village in the Kukudakhandi block of Ganjam district also committed suicide by consuming pesticide allegedly over crop loss due to the damage caused after incessant rainfall. As a sharecropper, he had borrowed a large sum of money from private lenders and was reportedly under pressure of repaying the money.

In the past, Tarini Bariha, a landless cultivator from Barihapaali village of Bargad district, had killed himself by consuming pesticide as his crop had failed. He was under enormous debt and was unable to pay Rs 2000 for his son’s class XII exam. A few kilometres away, in the Sohela block, Makardwaj Wag also killed himself over debts from crop failure. These narrations are an everyday living experience for the landless, marginal and small farmers. The increasing dependence on the money lenders for credit are the consequential effects of enduring structural deprivation and oppression.

In fact, the narratives provide insights to understand distress as sites of continuous oppression, conflict, and paradox. The experiences of distress, memorised by the victims in a few words, trace the lineage of their oppressive living conditions since colonial times, and thereafter. Narratives not only uncover the wide gap between the terms of cognisance of the victims of distress and deprivation and those of the state, but also expose how experiencing distress is entrenched in the cumulative depri-vation of the basic productive resources, in particular land, water, and money.

The narratives of the distressed farmers contest the systematised understandings of the agrarian development that suppress, conceal and silence the genealogy of the subjugation and oppression of the marginal and small farmers. These repose the question of the develop-ment strategies that integrate the dispossessed, disadvantaged and disempowered class into the development processes in exchange for reliefs/subsidies that are short-term and non-structural and often result in the dependency syndrome.

Farmers’ suicides are not merely individual attributes but are produced in historically evolved social, economic, and political realities. The persistence of farmers’ suicides and their recurrence must be seen as morally outrageous and politically unacceptable in the context of the democratic transformations that have seen an unprecedented expansion of the social welfare state and its constitutional responsibilities to secure basic rights to the people. The social, economic and political marginalisation of the farmers raises several troubling questions concerning their exclusion from the much publicised development processes in the agrarian economy of the State.

Mapping Agrarian Crisis 

While three-fourth of Odisha’s population dépends on agriculture in the wake of a fast- declining forest resource, there has been little attempt to empower the landless to regain their ownership rights over the basic productive resources. A comprehensive analysis of the socio-economic history of Odisha illustrates that the various Land Settlement Acts have failed to change the exploitative land relations. Over the years, an increase in the marginal and small land-holding households without much increase in the operational areas has resulted in smaller operational holdings.

Around 84 per cent of the total operational holdings belonged to the marginal and small farmers. The marginal farmers owning one hectare or less of land comprised almost 60 per cent of the total holdings and small farmers comprised around 24 per cent of the holdings. (State of Environment Report, Orissa 2006: 23-24) On the other hand, decrease in medium and large holding households without much decline in the operational area, resulted in the increased size of operational holdings in fewer hands. Distribution of land is more unequal in the southern and northern regions of the State as compared to the coastal region.

Long-term trends of transfer of land, patterns of land encroachments, and land seizures resulted in the concentration of land with better water coverage amongst the large landowners who established their dominance with sub-stantial extractive power. Alongside, the rising incidence of money lending, land mortgage, and labour bondage, created a class of landless, marginal and small farmers, who became vulnerable to the processes of depri-vation and distress.

While the Orissa Scheduled Areas Money Lender’s Regulation Act, 1976, aims at controlling and regulating money lending operations in the scheduled areas, the intricacies and complexities of processing the loans by the local banks forced the marginal and small farmers to take loans from the private money lenders against land mortgage. Despite high rates of interest, a large section of the subsistence producers depends upon borrowings from money lenders to resume the cropping practices. The marginal and small farmers, who borrow seeds to sow, lose out again, as they pledge much of the crop to the money lenders. (See also Sainath 1996: 214-223) Thus they are trapped in the enduring debt.

While the State Government has asked all District Superintendents of Police to strictly implement the Odisha Money Lenders Act, 1939 so that no person can carry on a money lending business after November 22, 1975, without being registered under the Act, nor can any person be employed by any money lender for the purpose of demanding or recovering any loan due to him unless such person has a certificate authorising him to act as a debt collector, the farmers are subject to constant pressure to return the money with extortionate rates of interest charged by money lenders, at times up to 40 per cent. The Orissa Debt Relief Act, 1980, which aimed at providing relief to the ST debtors, in particular the small farmers, rural artisans and agricultural labourers, has failed to prevent mortgaging of land and other productive assets, resulting in losing them to the money lenders. An uphill struggle of the farmers is to free themselves from the exploitation by the landlords and money lenders.

Several studies reveal that the marginal and small farmers consistently take loan from banks, self-help groups and private money lenders. Rising prices of agricultural input have forced them to take loans alongside pest management. Borrowing from the money lenders and land-owners remains a regular practice in the agrarian economy of Western Odisha. More than 50 per cent loans are from non-banking sources. The cultivation costs have increased with small-size holdings. Many farmers have switched to a high external input-based system of farming encouraged by the government as it promises a higher yield and greater earning. However, even though the cost of production has increased year after year, incomes have failed to show a corresponding growth. (Sahu, 2017) Alongside, vast quantities of chemical fertilisers have robbed their fields much of their fertility. (Ibid.)

On the ground, the farming reality tells us that loan waiver is not the solution as marginal and small farmers should have low cost production. Lowering the cost of production needs to be prioritised. It is incongruous that the government has failed the need for reform to lower the cost of production. On the other hand, it focuses on growth in both agricultural production and exports.

Flaws in the implementation of minimum support price, and lack of institutional credit, results in increasing informal loans and distress sale of paddy. Procurement of labour in exchange for subsistence, transfer of land, and productive as well as non-productive assets to the money lenders and landowners remains a regular practice.

In fact, the government’s price support and input subsidies benefited the rich farmers and industrial capitalists and have been of little help to the marginal and small farmers. Because the Orissa Land Reforms Act, 1974 explicitly bans tenancy, sharecroppers don’t get any benefits announced for farmers. This has further strengthened the structures of deprivation and exclusion of certain sections of society, who are left with little choice but to adapt to the adverse conditions through several coping strategies. The Odisha experience explains in many ways the processes of increasing alienation of land rights that create conditions of deprivation, exclusion, marginalisation and impoverishment for the landless, marginal and small farmers.

The economic dominance of the landowning class strengthens their social and political dominance. They hold sway over land, labour, credit and produce markets, and common property and village level institutions. Thus the agrarian economy, characterised by abysmal poverty, landlessness and extreme inequality in the land structure, reflects the failure of the state. The state policies have made no attempts to intervene to alter the structures of domination and control. The transformations in rights of land ownership, extraction of revenue, industrial policies, forest policies, strategies of trade and market economy, and forms of expansion of its regulation, control and alliances, unfolds the structures and processes of hegemony and dominance. The doctrine of ‘eminent domain’ that empowers the state to use common property for public interest, and public purpose—has, in practice, enabled the state to protect the interests of the dominant class. The colonial legacy of acquisition of land therefore continues and the state in alliance with the corporate sector plays a vital role in acquiring land for public purpose.

While the last decade has seen Odisha as an emerging economy, the paradox of development has become more conspicuous today than in the past. The new symbols of prosperity and growth have remained confined to the urban cities of the coastal region of Odisha and its benefits have largely been cornered by the dominant class. The western region continues to remain backward and underdeveloped for certain communities and groups.

The prolonged phase of stagnation with continuing dominance of the big landowners in the western region, its economic backwardness and tribal composition alongside the eastern-based character of the political parties, and its factional and personality-oriented politics, left the districts of Western Odisha in a state of uncertainty, instability, poverty and inequality as compared to the districts of Coastal Odisha.

Feat of the State 

The Naveen Patnaik Government (Biju Janata Dal-BJD) has come to power for successive years now promising a transformation of the economy. Odisha has witnessed a steady drift from poverty reduction and employment generation development strategy to a massive programme of mine-based mega projects with support from the Centre. The focus on removing obstacles to mining, reviving growth in the manufacturing sector, encouraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in critical sectors, and development of smart cities, conspicuously reflects the class character of the state. However, in spite of favouring the industrial and educated middle class, the state’s campaign for inclusive growth and the rights-based approach has gained popular support.

Odisha has been hailed as a growing economy and agriculture has been accorded the highest priority both by the Centre as well as the State. However, the ground reality explains that the policies of the government which stress on doubling the farm income and farm loan waivers have not only failed in arresting the alarming rise of the debt burden, but also in securing a stable income. Further, it has failed in preventing the loss of productive resources and the produce resulting in recurrences of farmers’ suicides. Since the State had declared its success in agrarian growth, it was determined not to acknowledge the agrarian crisis till the news of farmers burning their crops and committing suicide hit the headlines recently. Denial by the public officials of farmers’ suicides due to the agrarian crisis places insuperable obstacles to resolve the crisis.

Ironically, Anjan Kumar Manik, the District Collector of Bargarh, claims that the Bargarh district is known for bumper paddy production as 25 per cent of the State’s paddy is procured in Bargarh which is almost 10 to 11 lakh tonnes every year. A part of the district falls under the Hirakud Command area and is well irrigated. However, the remaining blocks often face droughts. Being a beneficiary of the Hirakud Dam irrigation system has not helped Bargarh much because of the high investment in paddy cultivation in recent years. These are depressing contrasts.

We see an absolute lack of political will to arrest the problem. The tragic events of suicides of farmers have led the government to go into defensive mode. The Opposition parties have also fallen into the same trap as their counterparts of blaming the ruling party for its anti-farmer policies. The government at present is facing an uphill task of mitigating opposing claims rather than behaving pragmatically and sensibly by intervening to reform the investment costs which are basic to increase the farmers’ income. The farmers’ suicides have taken a political turn as Susanta Singh, the Labour, Employment and State Insurance Minister, alleged that farmer Brunda Sahu took the extreme step after getting provoked by a group of BJP leaders who met the latter once the news that he set the damaged crops on fire was flashed on news channels. On the contrary, refuting the allegations levelled by Singh, BJP MLA Pradip Purohit counter-alleged that the ruling BJD was so perturbed by Sahu’s suicide that their leaders were trying to cook up fake stories to defame the BJP.

Both the ruling party and the Opposition want to create the ground for their political projects. What is worrisome is that the need to see what is a failure of the callous state is passed off as a normal phenomenon that farmers experience. Increasing farmers’ suicides did not come across as shocking to the state. In fact, the government remained unmoved despite the increasing number of farmers taking their lives. The ruling and Opposition parties should move beyond such political squabbles.

The government has been driven by political calculations rather than a realistic assessment of the situation. In fact, when the government was criticised for the recent suicide of a farmer in Bargarh district, Pradeep Maharathy, the Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Minister, asserted that the farmers die due to other causes, in particular domestic discord and not ‘farm distress’. (Bisoyi, 2017) His statement soon snowballed into a severe public agitation. It forced the government to send the Collector to the village for a recheck of the facts. The government has also chosen to stick to its stand to deny any farmer’s suicide in the State. It stated that the incidents could be due to anything but crop loss and debt.

In the past, the State officials have argued that suicides were mostly due to personal, domestic, health-related and other reasons, but not due to crop loss or debt burden. The Collector of the Bargarh district in his reports on farmers’ suicides in 2015 attributed “family dispute”, “marital discord” and “consumption of liquor” by the farmers as the possible reasons for the suicides. He further stated that since ‘Odisha has seen droughts, cyclones and floods for several decades, people have developed the resilience’. (Joshi, 2016)

Similarly, the former Hemgir Block Chairman, Gopal Chandra Pradhan, claimed Manoj Singh’s crop was in good condition. Refuting the statement of the daughter of the deceased that he was disturbed as his name wasn’t listed in the report on the farmers whose crops had been infected with pests and that he would miss out on compensation and therefore fail to repay the loan. Vineet Bhardwaj, the Collector of Sundar-garh district, argued that according to the inquiry report, allegations of debt burden and crop loss were not the reason behind the farmer’s suicide.

The apathetic attitude of the government to prevent farmers from taking their lives is also reflected in the blame the political class imposes on the farmers for the incorrect application of pesticides. They argue to convince that the farmers are responsible for the crop loss as the pest that strikes annually can be easily controlled. (The officials at the Agriculture Department) On the contrary, the farmers in the villages of Odisha where farmers committed suicide complain that the Village Agriculture Workers (VAW), Gram Sebaks and Krusaka Sathis, who are supposed to advise the farmers regarding the use pesticides, have never done so. (Patnaik, 2017: 4) The crop loss from attacks by BPH also aggravated as there was acute shortage of government-distributed pesticides. Moreover, the pesticides used by the farmers failed to protect the paddy crop from BPH. It was two weeks after several farmers had committed suicide that the government banned 11 pesticide companies, which failed the quality check, from selling their products in the State. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union Minister of State for Agriculture, who visited areas in Bargarh, Boudh and Sonepur districts affected by BHP, said the pesticides many farmers had used actually helped proliferate the pest. In fact, the government’s efforts to regulate toxic chemicals used in agriculture have failed miserably. We have seen this in the recent past, in Maharashtra’s cotton belt in Yavatmal, where farmers died from pesticide exposure.

Damodar Rout, the Agriculture Minister, has been criticised by Anant Padhi, President of the Bargarh District Congress Committee, for not supplying the pesticides on time. The Minister has also declared that the government would not extend aid to farmers who set fire to their crops. The Special Relief Commission officials and Revenue Disaster Management (Agriculture and Home) are tightlipped on the suicides and their numbers.

Nevertheless, under fire from Opposition, the Chief Minister had announced a package of Rs 1000 crores for providing subsidies for agricultural inputs, fresh loans and tuition fee waivers for students in drought-hit areas. But, despite the government’s assurance of financial assistance to compensate for the crop loss caused by drought, pest-attack and unseasonal rain, suicides by farmers continued.

A farmer committing suicide under any circumstances is a matter for serious conside-ration. Every time a farmer commits suicide it attracts wide publicity and discussion. It is sad that a farmer had to sacrifice his life to draw attention to a problem that has been present in India for long and is endemic.

While the government at the Centre claims that the increase in credit facilities have gone a long way in preventing farmers from falling prey to usurious money lenders, we do not see much change in the vulnerability of the farmers to processes of manipulation and exploitation by the money lenders and landlords. Agriculture is in crisis. This is far from normal as the tragedy of farmers killing themselves challenges the basic agricultural policies of the state, even after 50 years of Green Revolution.

Farmers should have money to meet the challenges of unfavourable season. Most farmers said that steady rise in the cost of inputs like fuel, pesticides, fertilisers, and even water, and slashing of subsidies were putting increasing burden on them. Horror stories of women from the families of farmers who committed suicide (shared with Medha Patkar in the gathering at the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee) reveal how due to crop failure and loss of land, farmers took their lives. Farmers have been working as labourers in their own land as they have mortgaged their land for money. (Rajput, 2017: 3; Pillai, 2017: 1)

The daunting challenge before the State is to implement M.S. Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations (2006) to secure farmers’ income. The committee was set up by the National Commission on Farmers in 2004 to address the nationwide calamity of farmers’ suicides. It was at the height of the Vidarbha farmers’ suicide crisis that the committee suggested a Minimum Support Price (MSP) which should be 50 per cent more than the average cost of production classified as C2. (Agricultural Costs and Prices) The recommen-dations have not been implemented by both the UPA and the NDA governments even after 11 years. While the present government stated that it wants to double the farmers’ income by 2022, and the Prime Minister in his address at the World Food India (WFI), 2017 emphasised the need to connect India’s farmers with markets around the world and asked the private sector to invest more in contract farming creating agri-linkages, it has failed to secure a stable income to the farmers, in particular marginal and small farmers. Though programmes and schemes such as the Pradhan Mantra Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PMKSY) and Electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) have been publicised promising the farmers a good yield and good price for their yield, they have made little difference to the lives of the farmers in Odisha as States are subject to several conditions to receive the Central Government’s share under PMFBY. The insurance schemes do not cover tenant farmers/sharecroppers and landless farmers even though they constitute half of the farmers who commit suicide. Without a structural intervention these schemes will fall far short of their promises and claims.

Though over the years there has been a decline in the political culture of resistance and State actors have mobilised a large mass of support for their rule, the gathering of thousands of farmers at the Ramlila Maidan on November 20, 2017, as part of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, is significant. They demanded to create a permanent institutional mechanism to confer farmers ‘freedom from debt’, a one-time complete waiver of all farmers’ loans, and fair prices for their produce. Reminding the government of not fulfilling its pre-poll promise made to farmers to give the entitled cost for their produce which would include at least a 50 per cent profit margin, thousands of farmers gathered to pass two bills regarding debt and remunerative prices for their produce.

The Centre needs to take the steps suggested by the Swaminathan Committee to avert the agrarian crisis. Loan waiver is not the solution and the government must correct the minimum support price or else farmers will be trapped in debt again. (Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj India leader) The minimum support price might have a moderating effect but much work needs to be done to streamline the processes to reduce the cost of production. This should receive top priority. Whether it is bad harvest or bad prices, the farmers lose.

The Way Forward

In an agrarian economy, when markets and monsoon determine the fate of farmers, besides land, they should have the money to sustain their lives in case of a failure in the crop or fall in prices. Where bumper harvests also do not ensure reasonable profits, it is important to devise ways to lower the cost of production and reduce the risk of pests and weeds. Since a majority of farmers are marginal and small farmers and depend on rain-fed farming, a policy to protect farmers against the vagaries of nature is important. The state-supported insurance should have universal coverage.

Long-term steps to ensure the economic viability of farming is important and not just farm loan waiver. It is not just the inability to pay off the debts. Paying compensation is not the solution. In fact, farm loan waivers will pose a bigger burden on the government exchequer than what higher pay for farm produce will incur. (Swaminathan, 2017: 16)

Some serious thought is to be given to reducing the cost of production, minimising risks and maximising returns. M.S. Swamina-than’s work on Evergreen Revolution 2016, where he recommends rainwater harvesting and rotation of crops to ensure sustainability of farming, is important. Farmers must have the capacity to control pests and diseases and should have agronomical methods of sowing such as rotation of crops in Special Agricultural Zones (SAZ).

Swaminathan’s suggestion to take several steps to promote land care in its totality and to measure agricultural progress in its human dimension rather than in statistical terms is therefore valid. It is important to extrapolate that growth in the economy can ensure social justice only when the deprived and excluded have the freedom to exercise their entitlements, empowerments and rights. While it is critical to plug the loopholes in the implementation of development programmes, structural change in an agrarian economy demands intervention by the state in land rights and land relations, to ensure that the deprived have access to the means to cultivate land and make provisions to check land encroachments and prevent alie-nation of land. Besides ownership of land, they should have access to market and credit system, which will save them from money lenders, landlords, middlemen and traders. Elimination of destitution needs to be considered in the context of three objectives—regaining control over land and other productive resources, regaining control over one’s labour, and regaining control over the produce of labour.

Prevention of the agrarian crisis should not just be concerned with containing farmers’ suicides. It should ensure right to access, ownership and control over the livelihood resources to secure the people a certain normality of livelihood, and the right to live with dignity. It needs to assess the continuum of distress beyond the period of extreme conditions of agony.

The constitutional responsibility of the democratic state to secure basic rights to its people must not become the prerogative of the state. Failure of the state to secure the basic needs to its citizens not only illustrates failure of democracy but also undermines equal citizen-ship.

While the farmers are the strength of the country, their voices have been marginalised in the mainstream discourse on development of agriculture. This needs to be reversed. The state should intervene to create conditions to enable the deprived and marginalised to voice their concerns and participate in the development plans that impact their lives and livelihood.


Bisoyi, Sujit Kumar (2017), ‘1895 Farmers committed Suicide in Odisha between 2005 and 2014’ on November 20, 2017).

Government of Odisha, (2006), State of Environment Report, Orissa 2006, Chapter XI Socio-Economic Issues, Orissa, State Pollution Control Board, Bhubaneswar.

Joshi, Hridayesh (2016), ‘More Farmer Suicides in Odisha, Government says Not Due To Crop Failure’ January 30. › All India (assessed on November 20, 2017).

Mohanty, Debabrata (2017), ‘Odisha Farmer Suicides: ‘Pesticides Failed to Kill Pests, they Killed my Father’ in Hindustan Times, November 6, (acessed on November 20).

Patnaik, Sampad (2017), ‘Pest Strikes Odisha Fields: State Absent, Farmers Helpless’ in The Indian Express, November 17, pages 1 and 4.

Pillai, Soumya (2017), ‘Farmers Seek One Time Full Waiver of Loan’ in The Hindu (Delhi Metro), November 20, page 1.

Rajput, Abhinav (2017), ‘Farmers Arrive in City with 2 Demands: Loan Waiver, Better Prices for Crops’ in The Indian Express, November 21, page 3.

Ray, Suranjita (2015), ‘Politics of Poverty in Odisha’ in Journal of Rural Development, by National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) Vol 34, No.4, October-December 2015. ISSN 0970-3357.

Sahu, Priya Ranjan (2017), ‘Drought and now Pest Attacks: Double Danger Stalks Odisha’s Rice Fields, its Farming Mainstay’ Https://Scroll.In › India › Farm Distress (assessed on November 22, 2017).

Sainath, P. (1996), Everybody Loves a Good Drought, New Delhi, Penguin.

The Hindu (2017), ‘Three More Odisha Farmers Commit Suicide’, page 3.

Venkat, Vidya (2017), Interview of M. S. Swaminathan with The Hindu ‘Why Can’t the Government Provide a Higher Income for Farmers?’, The Hindu, August 16, page 9.

Suranjita Ray teaches Political Science in Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi. She can be contacted at suranjitaray_66[at]

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