17,107 farmers committed suicide in 2003, the most recent year for which government figures are available.
Similar to the increase in diabetes, globalization has been blamed.
Subsidies, once a linchpin of Indian economic policy, have dried up for virtually everyone but the producers of staple food grains. Indian farmers now must compete or go under. To compete, many have turned to high-cost seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, which now line the shelves of even the tiniest village shops.
Monsanto, for instance, invented the genetically modified seeds that Mr. Shende planted, known as Bt cotton, which are resistant to bollworm infestation, the cotton farmer’s prime enemy. It says the seeds can reduce the use of pesticides by 25 percent.
The modified seeds can cost nearly twice as much as ordinary ones, and they have nudged many farmers toward taking on ever larger loans, often from moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates.
The upper and middle class continue to make unparalleled progress continuing to widen the gap while the vast majority of the poor people face one crisis after another.
I am optimistic that eventually the boom the urban middle class is growing thru has to percolate down to the masses….but how many more social calamities before then?