Farmer Suicide – UPSC Ethics


Critically discuss the ethical aspects of farmer suicides in India. (200 Words)
The agriculture sector that employs over half of working population is riddled with increased instances and reporting of farmer suicides. Along with a burning political and policy issue, agrarian distress has raised ethical concerns as well for all the stakeholders.
For farmers: who swing between struggle and suicide against all odds – financial distress, family disputes, health problems. Psychological help must be made available through a distress helpline.
For public servants: politicians who launch big-ticket farm-friendly schemes merely announce “farm packages”, unconcerned of whether it reaches beneficiaries. Such knee-jerk reactions are mere eyewash. Still, the causes of these suicides are disputed rendering any scheme to address them useless. Policy formulation has to be based on both facts and compassion. Administration that has to keep tab on levels of distress being faced on account of untimely rains, high input costs, debts and assure and provide all sorts of assistance via representative bodies like gram panchayats.
For healthcare professionals: whether they’re truly serving public interest by not volunteering or practicing in rural areas. Farm distress is attributed mainly to mental illnesses and family disputes along with indebtedness.
For Business community and lenders: Should ethically contribute from their profits towards rural development via CSR. Plain profit-mindedness is not possible in hinterlands that lack monetary sustainability. Extending loan terms in case of drought/floods on humanitarian terms. Many a suicides result from
For media: is to bring to light farm suicide cases and not sensationalize in order to garner advertorial gains. Successful practices like diversification have to be highlighted to replicate such successes elsewhere.
Above all, it is important for rapidly urbanized society to push government for addressing concerns of farmers – who are failing to reap fruits of modernization.


A close friend of yours who hails from a powerful political party keeps visiting you often in your office. You are working as District Collector. During one of his visits, your friend tells you a story about a suicide committed by a farmer in his native village. He tells you that the farmer, who was poor, was given many free goodies by the government.
According to your friend, the farmer could have lived happily for rest of his life by depending on the government goodies alone – without working in his farm forever. But he committed suicide after selling his land to government and spending all the money on daughters’
marriage and loan repayment. Your friend opines that suicides such as this should be neglected and never be highlighted in the media as they are the result of farmers’ own mistakes. He even tells you that the huge monetary compensation given by the government to dead farmers is wrong as it encourages more farmers to commit suicide.
What do you think about your friend’s arguments and what will be your counter-argument? What values does your friend lack? Critically comment. (200 Words)
“Give a man fish, you feed him for a day, teach him fishing, you feed him for the lifetime” The famous quote hold relevance to the case cited above and to my friends attitude who support only first half of the quote, neglecting the most significant second half. As being from a political background, his advocacy might be based upon immense political capital underlying in the freebies approach, assuring most abundant vote bank in form of poor farmers. But in his narrow minded, vote bank driven approach he has neglected its catastrophic consequences and closed his eyes for the larger picture.
I will like to put forth my views to him based on larger national interests. A farmer has chosen to do farming as it provides economic, social and cultural security to his family. His fest and festivities are closely linked to it. On the larger context he feeds entire nation, support industries, generates export revenue for the country. By giving him freebies is a retrograde move towards discouraging entire farming community. By giving him free goodies govt. may feed him, but he has many other family needs like health, education of children. He needs sustained income to meet social obligations of marriage, and many other obligations
prevalent in villages. To meet such huge expense he will choose between social ostracism and selling land, and he will always choose later one.
This way I will like to explain him greater consequences. His insensitivity towards farmer death compensation is also driven by similar narrow minded approach. I will try to convince him to keep larger societal interests in mind and adopt more sustainable approach for vulnerable sections in his political career.



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