Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Farmers’ Suicides and Response of Public Policy: Evidence, Diagnosis and Alternatives from Punjab

Gill, Anita and Singh, Lakhwinder (2006): Farmers’ Suicides and Response of Public Policy: Evidence, Diagnosis and Alternatives from Punjab. Published in: Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. XLI, No. 26 (30 June 2006): pp. 2762-2768.

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Slow transformation of a developing economy gradually shifts surpluses and substantially reduces the importance of the agricultural sector of the economy. This has been recognized as a healthy characteristic of the capitalist economic development. Crisis of this transformation emerges when the surpluses are rapidly extracted but dependence of workforce remains on agriculture sector. Organization of farm production on the lines of capitalist farming reduces farmers to managers of production and increases continuously unemployment of labour. The state led green revolution in Punjab based on assured market and remunerative prices of agricultural production in the early green revolution period has considerably increased the income of the farmers irrespective of farm size. Stagnation of the green revolution technology, rise in the cost of living, lack of alternative employment opportunities and near freeze in the minimum support prices has generated a crisis of unprecedented scale. Diversification attempts of the farmers for alternative remunerative outcomes have further pushed them in deep crisis because of market failure to provide right kind of prices both of the produce and finance. Increased unemployment, mounting debt burden and lack of success in diversification attempts led the farmers to commit suicides in Punjab. Farmers’ organizations, political movements and state led resistance to the agrarian crisis have not yet met with success. This paper makes an attempt to examine the agrarian crisis of Punjab with fresh perspective to search for an alternative strategy for resolving the crisis.

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