May 02, 2015

Fighting yesterday’s war

Our Advisory Board member, Manish Sabharwal writes about the agrarian crisis in this Indian Express article.

Manish writes "India doesn’t face land shortage. Every Indian household could get half an acre and still fit into Rajasthan plus Maharashtra, and only 8 per cent of all land is used for urban and commercial purposes (only 8 per cent of land in Brazil and 18 per cent in the US is cultivated land). India doesn’t face a suicide crisis. We have 17 per cent of the world’s population and 17 per cent of its suicides. Our suicide rate per one lakh people fell by 10 per cent over the last decade. While every preventable death is a horrible tragedy, the highest estimate of farmers’ suicides is 25,000 of the 2.5 lakh suicides last year".

He further writes "Why is there a substantially different political outrage for farmer suicides and women childbirth deaths? The usual explanation of economist Mancur Olson’s brilliant work on vested interests, which detailed how an organised vocal minority can hijack the agenda in a democracy, is unsatisfactory because farmers are neither organised nor a minority. However, our politicians have two vested interests — one that involves the personal finances of some and the other that involves the political imagination of most".

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