India embraced liberal economic policies in 1991, and since has dismantled trade barriers, encouraged privatization, and promoted activities that are supposed to lead to economic growth. Such open economic policies have been mandated by the Structural Adjustment program of the International Monetary Fund, as a response to the budget deficits, currency crisis, and rising foreign commercial debt crisis. The post liberalization era has seen strong economic growth in India. At the same time, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of farmers who committed suicide, mostly due to rising and unmanageable debt burden. A staggering 190,753 farmers have taken their lives between 1995 and 2006. This has created quite a political stir, leading to the government’s Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (2008). This paper explores all the direct and indirect channels through which the structural adjustment program affects farmers’ lives. I argue that the cook-book approach of debt waiver programs cannot be sufficient unless the reasons behind farmer indebtedness are addressed.
|Keywords:||Structural Adjustment, Farmer Suicide, Indian Agriculture, Farmer Debt|
Graduate Student, Department of Economics, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA
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