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OPINION

Why should Indian farmers commit suicide for a debt of a few thousand rupees while wily thick-skinned businessmen like Kishore Biyani and Mallya continue to have a ball with thousands of crores of people’s money?

In any other capitalist country businessmen like Biyani and Mallya would be cooling their heels in a state prison for their acts of omission and commission and for hoodwinking the banking system with the active collusion of senior bank officials, and for cheating their investors with false valuations through creative accounting.

They are just two of such highflying businessmen of the hundreds others involved in a conspiracy to defraud the banking system, and the public exchequer, and for putting at risk the hard-earned bank deposits of millions of ordinary people. The media has often portrayed them in the past as revolutionary entrepreneurs; in reality, they are cheats, robbers, and parasites. They don’t create wealth but live off your hard-earned money and carelessly throw it down the drain.   

The grave and reprehensible issue of continuing farmers’ suicide is beyond my comprehension. How is it possible? It is so shameful to learn that even in these times our toiling farmers can be driven to such despair to end their lives because of crop failure. On the other hand young things in call-centres make loads of money for a lowly skill like speaking in accented English. They spend thousands in their Saturday night rave parties and sexual orgies inspired by the lifestyles of the likes of Mallya.

What can be the combined annual debt of the farmers who have committed suicide so far? It will be merely 150 crores for nearly 15,000 farmers who committed suicide in 2011 with an assumption that each one of them owed no more than Rs.1 lakh. For the ignominy of not being able to return a debt of Rs.150 crores, 15,000 honourable hard-working farmers, hit by the vagaries of nature and the rising input costs, ended their lives. This is more than the combined employee strength of Biyani, Mallya, and a few other business groups.

What do the businessmen and industrialists like Biyani and Mallya owe to our banking system? They owe AT LEAST A FEW LAKH THOUSAND CRORES and they are not bothered about returning it. They don't have any sense of honour or shame unlike those poor farmers. The banks, who won't even advance you a single paisa without a personal guarantee, help them by converting their debts into equity, which means converting solid loan into worthless share certificates. They even advance more money to them. The money is advanced on the basis of cooked-up project reports, created by renowned accounting firms, with fantastic projections and valuations based on either data conjured out of thin air or empirical studies that have no relevance to the Indian economy. Our corrupt governments, political leadership, bureaucracy, business class, top-line corporate executives, and the media are also part of the gigantic fraud that even shames the callousness and hard-heartedness of a serial killer and confidence trickster like Charles Shobhraj.

These criminals are clamoring and waiting for FDI in various sectors either to whitewash their black deeds or to exit the perpetually loss-making businesses with more cash in their pockets. They continue with their decadent lifestyles financed by the money of ordinary Indians. And if you thought mutual fund investments were risky, you should know now that your bank FDs and savings in LIC schemes are equally risky and the chimera of ‘economic growth and well-being’ is being financed by your ‘survival’ and retirement savings.

When you see the photograph of Mallya and his son surrounded by semi-nude nubile girls, and a bevy of Bollywood starlets during the shoot of his Kingfisher calendar, think of your FD in the bank. The playboys are having their fun at the cost of your hard-earned money and flaunting it too. While the father-son duo have their heavenly orgies in the company of Bollywood babes, your future is put at stake.

I also wonder about what happened to the Rs.50,000 crores of debt relief given to farmers on the eve of the last Parliamentary elections? Where did that money go? After such a massive relief, no farmer should have ever been driven to despair. That kind of corpus could have been easily used to save human lives for years to come.

Though it is an abhorrent exercise to treat the dead as mere numbers, we are condemned to do this in this third-rate country and society where the life of an ordinary citizen is considered so cheap. What is the total number of farmer suicides between 1995 and 2011? According to the best available information 2.9 lakhs farmers have ended their lives driven by despair in the last 16 years. Even if we presume that the actual number is double this, the adjusted figure will be 6 lakh farmers in 16 years, an annual average of 35,000.

Now, think about this. The Rs.50,000 crore corpus fund could have generated more than Rs.4000 crores annually in interest income. Even at the rate of a relief of Rs.1 lakh per farmer, this money could have saved 4 lakh farmer families every year. In fact, even a Rs.50,000 annual life-saving anti-suicide relief package per family would have been good enough since that is what a middle-class farmer earns from his crop every year. It would have saved 8,00,000 farmer families from extreme penury year after year, provided the interest rates did not dip drastically.
 
So, what happened to that money? The loan waiver scheme was a windfall for co-operative banks under the control of rich politicians like Sharad Pawar and Pratibha Patil who dominate the co-operative sectors in the states where cash crops like cotton are grown. The money never went to poor farmers. The banks simply wrote off the bad debts of rich farmers and balanced their account books.

And farmers continue to die. Those who don’t die are lured into selling their land to real estate developers who are nothing more than recyclers of the stolen money stashed abroad by politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, middlemen, and top-line corporate executives.

Rajesh Kumar Singh