Tuesday, June 13, 2006


32 people commit suicide every day in Kerala, highest rate in India and may be in the world also. This is happening in the most literate state of India!

It seems like people of the most literate state love to commit suicide. The government on its part is encouraging suicide by waving of loans of people who committed suicide. This has resulted in more people committing suicide in recent days. The people who commit suicide think that if one commits suicide at least his family will be free from debt, thanks to government.

Let me come to the point. Waving the loan taken by people or giving them more time to repay the loan won’t solve this problem. Many people criticize the Government for these suicides. The media as usual create sensation by branding all those who commit suicide are “farmers”. I have a question. Are all these suicides ONLY due to policies of government? Isn’t also because people these days forget to live within their means? Are all these people really farmers?

Let me narrate a true story to prove this point. My native village (in MC Road on the way to Kilimanoor from Trivandrum) was a self-sufficient village till the early 90’s. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts this village was very beautiful with rubber plantation on one side, a stream and paddy field on other side. Sandwiched between those were all the houses.

Very few had a Government job. Most of them worked on their land. They had a local market, which operates from 10 am to 12 pm daily. People bring their stuff there, sell it and with that money buy stuff for their house. For example one person will bring about 3 jackfruits, sell it and using that money buy vegetables (grown in our villages). I have never heard of any suicide in that village. Everyone seemed to be happy with what they had.

Then came 1990’s - Consumerism took over that village. They cut down rubber trees, filled the beautiful stream and paddy fields and started using only products you see on television. Going to market and selling/buying stuff become a thing of the past.

I recently heard of a person who committed suicide there. He took Rs.50000 as agricultural loan. He had only about 25 cents of land and how he managed Rs.50000 as agricultural loan I don’t know. He told the agricultural officer that he wants to cultivate plantains. The reason he took the loan was to convert the roof of his house from tile to terrace because terrace houses are the present day fashion.. He was a person working in a teashop and earning about Rs.3000 per month. Till that time he was living happily. Now he had to pay back more than Rs.2000 per month, which he couldn’t afford. He fell into debt trap and never recovered. He started borrowing from others (read money lenders who impose heavy interest) and finally committed suicide. I now hear that he has a debt of over 10 lakhs.

People take loans for one reason and use it for most unproductive purposes. If this is stopped most of the suicides can be prevented. “Show offs” have become part of societies in Kerala and that is the driving force for people to take loans these days (Kerala marriages are the best example). If the Government could come out with a detailed statistics of how the so-called farmers who committed suicide used their loan amount, it would definitely throw light into the spending (show off) pattern of the people of Kerala.
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Blogger silverine said...

I agree with you. People have to learn to live within their means. But the heavy advertising and offers that the media bombards the viewers with does sway good judgment. Families are shown to be happy becasue they have bought a particlular car, or bathe with a particular soap. It is sickening. The media too should be reined in. We are immature consumerists...we are yet to develop healthy skepticism to brand promotions.Till then many a debt trap awaits like landmines for the unwary.

June 13, 2006 5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost cent percent of these suicides are due to inability to payback. Because they are pure consumption loans. Agriculture IS a paying profession in Kerala, even now. But for strategic reasons neither the government nor anybody else wants to admit that. (True, it is not as lucrative as stockmarket or IT.) If the loans were used for real purposes, there wouldnt be so many suicides. But alas, as silverine pointed out, unless a bride wears ornaments at least half a kilo (yes, the days when gold used to be counted as sovereigns is gone, the standard is kilogram now!) her future life will be miserable. So do I use the loan for agriculture or to buy gold?


June 13, 2006 5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post I totally agree with you..unfortunately its the poor people like teashop wallahs and people who liive in urban slums who want to be part of the great indian consumer rbandwagon roadshow.Coming to the US ..I have seen plp here are inherently uppward mobile but they never fall into debt trap here..I dont know maybe their is some kinda protective mechanism here.
Its the people themselves to blame.parents who wants to pamper their kids with the best(read equal or better than the neighbours kid) develop this kinda culture in our land.I think its there in the culture of India inherently..to show off..I have seen it very little in people here..tho very rich plp are the same everywhere.
Write abt the new SSLC grading system which hs resulted in no suicides this time can u believe it..atlast our kerala Govt did some thing right..Yup C-,B+,A,A+ , summa cum laude,magnacum laude ,4.0 GPA thehehe like here.And no making heroines(mostly) and heros out of 20 plp and underdogs of teh rest of 5 lac candidates.

June 13, 2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

silverline-Yes I remember people buying Santhoor soap just thinking that using that soap you will look young. Most people just money without thinking about how much they earn just to maintain social status and finally end up in deep debt trap.

anon1 (kmn)-i also beleive- if u know ur limitation and do agriculture it is still a profitable job. here people take loan in the name of agricultrue and use it for other purpose. One of the main reason people take agriculture loan is for conducting marriages. I still cannot understand the point of taking huge loans and conducting marriage just for the sake of showoff in the society. You fell into deep dept trap after that and walk towards suicide.

anon2(prashanth)- trying to live better than your neighbour and in that process forgetting how much you have to spent puts you in debt trap. Once you are in that trap it is tough to get out of it.

June 13, 2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger Jiby said...

brijesh, until u wrote this...i never realised why more number of ppl were beginning to commit suicide over the last 2 weeks!!!

its the rush to be seen as upwardly mobile without really possessing the means that is ruining our society...sometimes i think all the awareness that our ppl are supposed to possess is restricted only to politics and that too to ensure the incumbent never comes back to power!!!

ur example of kilimanoor is really a microcosm to what is happening all over kerala...i think very few ppl who work in kerala are free of the debt trap coz of getting caught up in the status race vicious cycle!!!

great post...u shud get it published in one of our mainstream newspapers!!!

June 13, 2006 5:43 PM  
Anonymous chandni said...


But it aint that easy..

Though I can never understand how people can take their own lives.....we cant really understand the situation..

LIke the mass suicides by farmers in Andhra....What do u say?

June 13, 2006 6:19 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Jiby- Since Govt announced incentives for families of those who committed suicide more people started doing it. This is not the way to stop suicides. Many people who are in deep debt trap may use this as a short cut to clear their debts. They may think “ I made this mess. Let me die and at least my family be free of debt.”

Keralities never live for themselves, they live for the society. That I believe is the root cause for all these in Kerala.

Mainstream newspapers in Kerala only publish sensational news. Thanks a lot Jiby for visiting my blog.

Chandni- about suicide of farmers in Andra I don’t have much information other than what I read in the newspaper. But about Kerala the suicide is mainly because they forget to live within their means.

People take loan after loan and finally a stage will come when all these money lenders will virtually sit in front of your house to get back the money and you don’t have any money. They don’t have any one to borrow from and only alternative available to them is suicide.

June 13, 2006 8:25 PM  
Blogger Ganesh Ranganathan said...

are you sure you got your stats right, because there have been a lot of farmer suicides in Maharashtra and Andhra too...

June 13, 2006 11:05 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Ganesh-Yes there is lot of suicides in Andra and Maharastra but suicide rate is highest in Kerala
see these links


June 14, 2006 1:18 AM  
Blogger Babin said...

This is typical of leftist short sighted, populous policies. However idiotic their policies are, it is what earn them wide support base among naive keralites!

I don't know much about Indian Bankruptcy laws but looking at the
# of debt related suicides one gotta think there is something wrong with it. Bankruptcy laws are meant to protect debtors and give them a second chance. Govt can modify the bankruptcy laws to make it more humane and fair for the debtors. It is one good way to prevent these suicides.

June 14, 2006 1:22 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Babin-Do India have a bankruptcy law? I dont know at all.

If you have some kind of vision for Kerala you will never join Kerala CPI-M. It has become the party of Goondas.

June 14, 2006 1:34 AM  
Blogger കേരളഫാർമർ/keralafarmer said...

I was waiting to post a comment in Malayalam. I have to say something in English itself.
1. NABARD is giving money to the banks at an interest pf 6.5 % and farmers are getting on higher rates.
2. A bond exicuting by the banks are unknown to the farmers including educated people.
3. The rate of interest is higher than other loans.
4. For the next three years Agricultural loan will be three times than now.
5. None of the banks are not ready to give a pre sheduled statement about reimbersement.
6. If farmers are eligible to build up their children as Doctors and engineers then only suicide attempts can be reduced.
7. Agricultural loss due to natural calamities or high yield with low price cannot survive by them. etc.

June 14, 2006 6:38 AM  
Blogger verbaltorture said...

Though this discussion is specific to the farmer suicides in Kerala, I feel that the suicides are just by-products of the larger and global issue of living beyond your means. The fact that the farmer family gets debt waiver is just an incentive promoting larger number of suicides in the agricultural community.

Blame it on the media. Blame it on the rules. And most of all, blame it on the really bad parenting skills with the parents of today.

a) The media does its best to package any product so that it appeals to the youngster. Even if it is something absolutely unnecessary for them.
b) Punishment to children for doing wrong has been discounted - majorly. In the US, it is an offence to give your child a tight slap (even for something like stealing). The next thing you know, social security is at your door calling you an 'unsuitable parent'.
c) Parents should have enough sense in their craniums to say 'No' to their children wherever relevant. And to stick to it. To teach the child discipline and the value of money. If they don't have the ability to do that, they just should not opt to be parents! And parents definitely don't need to be from Harvard to teach their children the value of money.

Finally, it all boils down to over-doing it. Over-pampering and hence instilling wrong values, over-spending and hence not knowing your limits, and finally over-reacting - creating a mess, not knowing how to get out of it, and then taking the easy way out.

People who commit suicide are cowards, I'd say. Irrespective of whether they are farmers or not.

June 14, 2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger bluepaul said...

This was my comment to "HELP ME BLOG" about why they're up for sale again....enjoy.

Yes Hello,
My name is Paul Germana. And I have a question which I know you cannot answer. But I'm just going to ask it to make you look at yourselves. Why is it not up to the "owner" of the blog whether or not he allows 'adds' to be posted on his site? Not allowing people to place adds on blogs in like not allowing a salesman to knock on your neibors door, because you think you own the "block". Try as you might you will not own the internet. That is to monopolize, which inspite of what we see today is still illegal.
Furthermore, it is simple to prevent "spamming". The owner simply posts a request at his blog: "No soliciting please" . Here is how I know it would work. One, because it is a golden rule as old as time; and two, any good blog community has a "nextblog" button. And that is the one and only community a "spammer" (as you call him) is going to be interested in. If he sees "no soliciting" he knows he has hundreds of thousands of other blogs at the click of the mouse. Instead of wasting his time with someone who has said "no soliciting" he is going to gamble on the person who has'nt said "no soliciting".(Old As Time) What you are trying to do is own the world wide web, which you know is unethical; but you have plan. Blame it all on the "spammer", a fictional person which you all have created in order to distract attention from the more sinister act of taking the email address of the person who pays you for adds at his or her own site and in turn gives you emails of the people who are supposed to be going to THEIR site!!!
Then you take those emails and put them into a server which you or one of your fellow "business associates" owns, to share your stolen emails. This is why it's so easy for you to lie when you say, "You are automatically approved for a visa-gold card". But there is no visa card. You merely buy ads from underhanded webpage builders who used to work for, (or for that matter) are the credit-holders, who just want you to pay them in what else, "email addresses". It's the oldest foot in the door trick in the world. You say, "I'm not a salesman, I'm a businessman." Then you have the gall to talk about manners to the "lower-class" citizens who have more talent in their pinky toes than you have in your whole body. It does'nt take talent to be a cheat. But you know what does take talent? The way that I go anywhere I want on the web and there is nothing you can do about it,Why?..well because there are millions upon millions of spinsters just like you who are confined within their little tiny no effort spaces, begging me to come and join their community. You think we don't see you. And that is why yet another blogcommunity is up for sale.

June 14, 2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Kerala Farmer,
To answer your points,
1-Do you think an interest rate of 6 or 10% make a big difference for those farmers who committed suicide? if you take a loan of Rs 50000 with 6% interest and 10% interest the monthly rate increases only by Rs 150. The people have to commit suicide not after taking loans from government. They start taking government loan finally ends up taking loan from so called "blades" for about 96%. then the problems start.

2-if you take a loan and before signing the bond no officials of the bank explain to you the bond conditions?

3-if that is the case it is bad.

5-I think u r talking about repayment. My parents took a house loan from Union Bank and they gave them detailed statement of who they should repay.

6-I am an engineer. But let me tell you one thing. Engineer and doctors is not the end of the world. When I studied engineering the seats were very less and many of my friends couldn’t make it to engineering. They all are in very good position. It is a wrong concept the if you have a kid you should tune him to make an engineer or doctor. You study B Com and have a good personality most of the multinational banks will take you and you get salary more than an engineer will get. As economy is opening more and more job openings are coming up.

7 I agree with you. If a natural calamity like Tsunami/drought/flood comes “GENUINE” farmers should be protected by government. In that case I agree waiving the loans, giving more time for repayment etc. This is a genuine case.

verbal torture-Agrees fully wwith you on all you wrote.In US if the parent punish the kid it is an offense and kid can call the police and the police have the power to arrest the parents. That is the thing yet to come to India.

The feeling among parents that "my kid" should get all the things he want and should be one level higher than neighbours kid is the root cause of all these suicides. for that they steal/take bribes and do all stuffs. as time goes by demands from kid increases and to meet that demand they end up taking loan and finally when they cant repay they just end their life.
Yes, people who commit suicide are big time cowards.

June 15, 2006 2:09 AM  
Blogger കേരളഫാർമർ/keralafarmer said...

I took a rubber planting loan from neyyattinkara agricultural rural development Bank. I fully studied the terms and conditions. But they harrased me from the second year to pay the interest which was deffered interest period (not to pay for 7 years). I approached NABARD for Justice. Three years took to solve my problem in favour of me which was entitled to others also. Other farmers were not aware about it are well educated like retired tresury Director, Doctor, engineer, college lecturer etc. I adviced them to approach NABARD. How ever the problem created against Bank and some thing hapened in favour of Farmers.
Visit a page of my few previous posts not available. Quality Rubber Marketing Society

June 15, 2006 12:57 PM  
Anonymous ashokan said...

Good one sony, congrats. I think Prof. Swaminathan, Chairman, Farmers Commission may be interested to read this.

June 16, 2006 5:57 AM  
Blogger കേരളഫാർമർ/keralafarmer said...

Dear brijesh: http://rubber.wordpress.com/2007/01/16/study/ this link is an evidence and reason for Suicide's in Kerala/India. This study done by Dr. Yageen Thomas of Dept of Statistics, University of Kerala. I was the person to encourage this Study.

January 17, 2007 11:27 AM  
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