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Farmers’ Suicides and Response of Public Policy: Evidence, Diagnosis and Alternatives from Punjab


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  • Gill, Anita
  • Singh, Lakhwinder


Slow transformation of a developing economy gradually shifts surpluses and substantially reduces the importance of the agricultural sector of the economy. This has been recognized as a healthy characteristic of the capitalist economic development. Crisis of this transformation emerges when the surpluses are rapidly extracted but dependence of workforce remains on agriculture sector. Organization of farm production on the lines of capitalist farming reduces farmers to managers of production and increases continuously unemployment of labour. The state led green revolution in Punjab based on assured market and remunerative prices of agricultural production in the early green revolution period has considerably increased the income of the farmers irrespective of farm size. Stagnation of the green revolution technology, rise in the cost of living, lack of alternative employment opportunities and near freeze in the minimum support prices has generated a crisis of unprecedented scale. Diversification attempts of the farmers for alternative remunerative outcomes have further pushed them in deep crisis because of market failure to provide right kind of prices both of the produce and finance. Increased unemployment, mounting debt burden and lack of success in diversification attempts led the farmers to commit suicides in Punjab. Farmers’ organizations, political movements and state led resistance to the agrarian crisis have not yet met with success. This paper makes an attempt to examine the agrarian crisis of Punjab with fresh perspective to search for an alternative strategy for resolving the crisis.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 146.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Publication status: Published in Economic and Political Weekly 26.XLI(2006): pp. 2762-2768
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:146

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Keywords: Farmers’ Suicides; Indebtedness; Public Policy; Agrarian Crisis; Agriculture sector; Structural Transformation; Indian Punjab;

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  1. Chaves, Rodrigo A. & Gonzalez-Vega, Claudio, 1996. "The design of successful rural financial intermediaries: Evidence from Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 65-78, January.
  2. Singh, Lakhwinder, 2006. "Deceleration of industrial growth and rural industrialization strategy for Indian Punjab," MPRA Paper 799, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Syrquin, Moshe, 1988. "Patterns of structural change," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 203-273 Elsevier.
  4. Bell, Clive & Srinivasan, T N, 1989. "Interlinked Transactions in Rural Markets: An Empirical Study of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 51(1), pages 73-83, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Singh, Lakhwinder & Singh, Inderjeet & Ghuman, Ranjit Singh, 2007. "Changing Character of Rural Economy and Migrant Labour in Punjab," MPRA Paper 6420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Singh, Lakhwinder, 2010. "Post-reform economic development in Punjab: constraints and remedies," MPRA Paper 26741, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Vineetha Menon & K.N. Nair, 2008. "Distress Debt and Suicides among Agrarian Households: Findings from Three Villages in Kerala," Working Papers id:1586, eSocialSciences.
  4. K.N. Nair & Vineetha Menon, 2007. "Distress debt and suicides among agrarian households: Findings from three village studies in Kerala," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 397, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.


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