Amid India’s Drought Crisis, Suicides Increase Among Farmers Deep In Debt

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tukaram Jadhav was barely surviving off of his tiny cotton farm when he killed himself last September. His widow, a petite mother of two, pulls her purple sari tightly around her, and says she discovered her husband as he lay dying.

“I was the one who found him. I was sleeping and woke up to the powerful smell of pesticides that we use to farm,” Bhagyashree Jadhav says. She says she thought there had been a spill. “I asked my husband if he smelled it, then I realized he couldn’t speak. He’d swallowed the pesticide.” Tukaram languished in the hospital for two days before dying.

Bhagyashree Jadhav was widowed after her husband took his own life last September. Overwhelmed by debt and dying crops on his tiny cotton farm, he swallowed pesticide. But his widow says, “I will never turn my back on life.” She awaits the monsoons just weeks away “with hope.”

Bhagyashree is one of the new widows of Beed on farms in the western state of Maharashtra. They face life with no water and usually no inheritance of their husband’s land in this deeply conservative culture.

In India, two consecutive years of weak monsoons have left some 330 million people – a quarter of the country – in the grip of drought. Deepening the crisis, farmers are taking their lives.

Source: NPR (link opens in a new window)

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