Since 2001, one Indian farmer has committed suicide every half hour. Is climate change to blame?
Like most modernizing countries, India has seen a decline in the number of individuals who engage in agriculture for a living.
In the decade between 2001 and 2011, for example, the government estimates the number of Indian farmers declined by 9 million people, which marks the first absolute decline in this segment of the population since 1971. As a percentage of the total populace, farmers declined by 7 percent during the last decade, and they now constitute less than a quarter of India’s population.
These numbers, in and of themselves, don’t necessarily constitute a bad trend. After all, a decline in the agrarian population could be a sign of increased productivity, or simply greater opportunities in the urban population.
Yet one harrowing sign of the state of Indian farmers is the suicide rate.
For decades Indian farmers have been committing suicide at alarming rates that are well above the rates of the population at large, which itself has been rising. Moreover, the problem does not appear to be getting any better; in fact, it is if anything worsening, despite the state’s efforts to address the problem.
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