Modi Govt Finally Releases Data on Farmer Suicides: 11,379 in 2016

After a delay of more than three years, the Modi government has finally released data on farmer suicides in 2016.

2 min read
Children of farmers who took their lives, at a protest in Delhi in 2017.

After an inordinate delay of more than two years, the Modi government has finally released the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on farmer suicides in 2016.

There were over 11,370 farmer suicides across India in 2016, a rate of more than 31 suicides a day.

Maharashtra continues to feature as the state with the highest number of farmer suicides. Of the 11,379 suicides by farm labourers, landholders and cultivators in 2016, as many as 3,661 were from Maharashtra. That’s one in every three farmer suicides.

The NCRB had released its much-delayed crime data report on 21 October. However, it had chosen to not release the data on farmer suicides on the same day.

Break From NCRB Tradition, No Mention of Suicide Causes

In past reports, NCRB would list reasons behind the farmers’ suicides under categories such as crop failure, loans, farm distress, family problems, illnesses, etc. In the newly released data though, the NCRB has not mentioned the reasons behind the suicides.

A former NCRB official told The Indian Express, “Not only were the old categories retained but more sub-categorisation had been done to further diversify the data this time. But it’s interesting to note that this data has not been published,” said a former NCRB official who was involved in the exercise.

Importantly, data from 2015 showed that around 80 percent of those farmers who killed themselves because of bankruptcy or debts, had taken loans from banks and registered micro-finance institutions – and not from money lenders.

The former official also said the suicide data report had been submitted as long as 18 months ago to the Home Ministry, which had sought a number of clarifications. “A key question was also whether NCRB needed to collect data on farmers’ suicides at all,” he added.

Year-By-Year Comparison

In 2015, the total number of farmer suicides (labourers, landholders and cultivators) recorded was 12,602. In 2016, that number reduced to 11,379.

Here is the breakup of the data:

Farm labourers:

  • 2016: 5,109
  • 2015: 4,595

Landholders and cultivators:

  • 2016: 6,270
  • 2015: 8,007
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