Sukhrani is a 50-year-old farmer living in a village in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. A couple of weeks before the new year began, the local revenue officer went to that village to give her a cheque. This cheque was for compensation, because she was one of the farmers whose crop was damaged due to natural reasons. Sounds generous, doesn’t it?
The sum she got, however, was not generous. It was a cheque for Rs. 23. It takes Rs. 50 to reach the nearest bank to deposit that cheque. Here is what her husband, Rameswar had to say:
“Those who bribed the lekhpal (revenue officer) got between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 3,000, but I didn’t have even Rs. 100 to spare, my children work as daily wagers at the sahukar’s (money lender) in exchange for food. When namak-roti (salt and flat bread) is difficult to arrange how can I pay Rs. 1,000 the lekhpal asked for?”
Unseasonal rains have ruined crops all over the country. Sometimes it rains too much, and sometimes too little. The problem is not just this though, it is also a question of when it rains. Winter crops do not need much water, but it had rained too much. But Kharif crops need rain and it never rained after August. How do you battle something that you have no control over?
But does the government care about the farmer, who has worked hard and yet lost all the effort and money that was put in his piece of land? The government gives Rs. 23 to such farmers.
It is widely know that an Indian farmer is born poor and dies poor. The factors that make this are exploitation of farmers by landowners, and the government’s negligence of the most important people who hold the country’s economy.
Farmer suicides was one of the topics that was widely discussed in 2015. Will it change this year? Not for the price of Rs. 23.