Monday, September 04, 2006
Capitalism Kills the Poor
As surely as it pulled the trigger itself , Capitalism is killing the poor by driving debt-ridden Indian farmers to suicide . August alone saw 110 despairing famers in India's cotton belt take their lives - the highest monthly figure since the debt crisis began nine years ago . It's a vicious cycle. Farmers borrow money to buy seeds in the hopes of a good monsoon. But erratic rains, and lack of information about when the rains are coming, make for a poor harvest. They cannot pay back their debts and are forced into more debt for the following year. Suicide seems like the only alternative.
The cotton-growing region of Vidarbha is home to 3.2 million farmers, more than 90% of whom are heavily in debt.
They owe money to government banks as well as to local money lenders. On average, one Vidarbha farmer commits suicide every eight hours , creating three new widows every day .
4000 in the last nine years .
With few irrigation facilities, Indian farmers have little choice but to depend on rains for their livelihoods. Sixty percent of India's land is not irrigated. A bad monsoon means a bad harvest - and more debt for these farmers. Farming makes up just a fifth of India's $665bn economy, but it feeds two-thirds of the population. A bad monsoon can spell life or death for millions of India's forgotten farmers.
"But we have no water. We are at the mercy of nature. We don't get good harvests - we have nothing to eat here. Tell me, what are we to do? How are we to feed our families - pay back our debts? "