SANGRUR: The debt ridden farm suicides inPunjab might be projected as disturbing trend pointing towards further aggravating agrarian scene at the place more known as birth of green revolution in India but till now not much has been written about the pitfalls of farm suicides on the familial front. Now a researcher and woman activist has come up with a book about how the women had to face the wrath of agrarian crisis in Punjab. Ranjana Padhi has documented the miseries of women facing farm suicides through her book ‘Punjab de kheti sankat di kahani -auratan di aapni jubani'(The story of Punjab’ agrarian crisis and women’ agony). Interestingly despite her being of Orissa origin, she has liked the book to be translated first in Punjabi and will come out with English version later.
Many documentaries, books have been written on agrarian crisis in Punjab, some of which by showcasing the real picture has taken the outer world by surprise. Only recently human rights activist Inderjit Singh Jaijee had come up with book ‘Debt and death in rural India, The Punjab story’ but was not entirely on women.
Anti displacement activist Ranjana Padhi, who is actively working for women empowermentsince late eighties through various NGOs of Saheli, Kashipur solidarity, has projected the condition of women as precarious after male member takes the extreme step. In most of the cases women had to turn as wage labourers or in menial jobs for survival. Padhi has based her assertion on the findings after extensive interactions with 136 families mainly women in Punjab’ 8 districts of Malwa region, most affected on farmer-farm labourer count.
“During visits to Punjab in 2008-2010, I came across the condition of women belonging of farm and farm labourers families, where male members committed suicide, was very miserable. The women belonging to somewhat affluent families had to turn to wage labourers as raising children, feeding and educating them turned out to be herculean task for them in the absence of any financial support from any quarters”, said Padhi talking to Times of India over phone from Pune, where she is based.
Ranjana, who is in late forties and works as technical editor with a firm after MA English is coming up with the English title ‘Those who did not die: Impact of peasant suicides in Punjab’.
It has been pointed out that debt on farm and farm labourers had been mounting due to expenses on dowry, drug addiction, to cure depression. There are numerous instances of women facing the heat after male members committed suicide as Jasbir Kaur of Mansa is passing through lean patch after losing out the land due to debt after husband committed suicide, Charanjit Kaur of Bathinda is facing it hard to run household. Says Charanjit it all started with amrican sundi(English worm)that eat up cotton crop leading to family’ miseries.
“It is all due to lopsided policies and the trend of farm suicides and misery of women is here to stay till governments not comes up with remedial measures and finically bailing out the debt hit families”, said Buta Singh, who has translated the book in Punjabi.