Farmers' suicide
The report highlighted that 11,379 farmer's committed suicide in India in 2016.Credit: Reuters

The much-delayed report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on farmers' suicide was released on Friday, a day before historic Ayodhya judgment was announced. The report highlighted that 11,379 farmers' committed suicide in India in 2016. The numbers meant that there were 948 farmer suicides every month, or 31 suicides daily. But this year a major element was missing in the report. As per a report in the national daily, the Indian Express a major element that was missing this year in NCRB report is — reasons for the suicides. Although this is a critical development it is likely to get buried given the apex court announcing the Ayodhya judgment today.

The latest report said that although Maharashtra witnessed a 20 percent plunge in farmer's suicide in 2016 in comparison to 2015, the state topped in the number of farmers' suicides recorded across the country. In 2016, the total farmers' suicide registered in India was 6270 out of which 2550 were registered in Maharashtra. It is to be noted that the NCRB avoided releasing the NCRB data on 21 October which coincided with the day of voting in the Maharashtra Assembly elections. The data further showed that for the year 2016, the farmers' suicide rates dropped by around 21 percent but in contrast suicides by farm labours went up by 10 percent.

Farmers' suicide
Shockingly, the report was submitted to Home ministry 18 months ago but was not published due to multiple clarifications sought by the ministryCredit: Reuters

What is driving Indian farmers' to suicide?

The similar reports in the previous year included the reasons behind farmers' suicides under categories like farm distress, crop failure, loans, family problems, illness, etc. Moreover, details like data on the socio-economic status and land-holding of each victim were also included in the earlier reports. One of the former NCRB officials involved in the exercise said, "Not only were the old categories retained but more sub-categorization had been done to further diversify the data this time. But it's interesting to note that this data has not been published."

In another change from previous reports where the farmers' suicides had a separate section, this year it has included under the category 'Suicides by Profession'. The report published in 2015 had a separate category 'Suicides by Persons Involved in Farming Sector' under which there were six sub-categories including "cause-wise distribution of farmer suicides" and "land-holding-wise distribution of farmer suicides". Shockingly, the report was submitted to Home ministry 18 months ago but was not published due to multiple clarifications sought by the ministry. "A key question was also whether NCRB needed to collect data on farmers' suicides at all," the ministry further added.