Uttar Pradesh is in the middle of its biggest ever agrarian crisis. Over 3000 farmers have committed suicide in the last one year – a fact that goes largely unreported or under-reported. This is a State in which, before 1995, there was not a single documented farmer suicide. In such a situation, it is incumbent upon all public representatives to empathise and reach out to those affected, in their own way.
From 2013, I made a pledge to donate my entire Parliamentary salary for the last 4 years, and for the years to come that I would be an MP, to the families of those farmers in Uttar Pradesh who had committed suicide. We noticed that this was a new phenomena that was taking place in large numbers due to the worsening agrarian crisis in these parts.
After 2014, we decided to expand this into a movement, to scale-up the amount of people we helped by shifting the aim to help not just those who had perished but those marginal farmers on the brink of suicide.
To increase awareness regarding growing agrarian impoverishment amongst the people of the State and to get local communities to contribute, which would create a sustainable momentum, we isolated 3 indicators that would tell us if a farmer was on the brink of that drastic step:
- Farmers who had defaulted on their loan-repayment four times in a row.
- Farmers whose crops had been destroyed three cycles in a row; and
- Those that owned next to no fixed assets.
If a farmer suffered from all these conditions, there was a significant chance they might take their own life.