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Farmers, Crippled with Debt, are Selling Their Children in India

Image- Ekta Europe - Source - Business Standard

We live in the 21st century, a century of advancement of science and technology; today we reach at the other end of globe in few seconds by way of video conferencing or telecommunication. We have the social media where the entire world is our home in which we dwell half our lifetime. But this advancement did not help much to the downtrodden and poor. They still live their life like an animal. Do not have proper food and shelter. India is one of such country where poverty is a destiny of hundreds of millions of people.

The farmer is a source of our daily foodstuff requirement and in India farmers are living the life bellow the prescribed standard. Does it sound weird? The same stuff sold by them to the vendors at fraction of rates being sold at the superstores at premium cost. This is the story of a farmer in India who sold his two children to feed his family.

The farmer from Mohanputra village of Madhya Pradesh fell into the gush of debt due to the unseasonal rains which has destroyed his crops. He has no other source of income and no government schemes to help him to bring him out of the debt prompted him to sell his two sons to a shepherd for a year of labour in exchange of Rs. 35000/- “I was in no position to repay the debt and needed more money to make ends meet and plant a further crop,” Mr Singh said. He made the decision, he said, despite knowing “it was illegal and they could be abused and forced to work in cruel conditions.”

The extreme condition of the weather is leading to the increase in financial desperation amongst the farmers in India which is leading to the rash of suicide and child trafficking in India. According to Rajnish Shrivastava, the district collector of Harda district, authorities rescued five children from forced labour in April, all from Khargone and Harda districts.  “It is a matter of concern that farmers have been forced to sell their kids to repay their debts,” he said.

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After getting the news of this the officials have acted on it by rescuing the children of Mr. Singh from the bonded labour. Sumit, 12, and Amit, 11, fled from the shepherd and were taken to a local shelter, according to officials. Initially reluctant to return to their family for fear of how their parents would react, the boys are now back home, officials said. “Our job was to look after the sheep and other animals,” Amit said. “(The shepherd) thrashed us over trivial issues. We were not given even two meals a day.” Authorities have ordered an investigation, while the shepherds who allegedly bought the five rescued children have been charged with the unlawful confinement of children and are awaiting trial, Mr Shrivastava said.

farmer-crop-devastated

According to the mother of rescued children Minabai they had no option then to sell sell their children or commit the suicide like other farmers did “Trading our children was wrong but we were forced to do this just to stay alive,” Sumit and Amit’s mother, Manibai, said in an interview. “Otherwise, like many other farmers, we too would have been forced to commit suicide.” India has witnessed an alarming rate of suicide among farmers, as extreme weather continues to cause unprecedented crop losses in many parts of the country.

According to state government figures, Madhya Pradesh state was among the hardest hit this year, with over 570,000 hectares (1.4 million acres) of rabi crops – wheat and other crops that are sown in winter and harvested in spring – devastated by unusually heavy rains and hailstorms. Around 40 farmers committed suicide or died from stress-related causes in Madhya Pradesh alone between February and May 2015, state police and revenue officials said. “It is very serious,” said Gauri Shankar Bisen, Minister of Agriculture for Madhya Pradesh. “We are investigating the matter and have directed district collectors to provide compensation to farmers as soon as possible.”

Now the question here is what is government doing about the entire scenario? Except promising the skies to the farmers are they really interested helping them in this extreme situation? According to the reports the governments of most states affected by extreme weather have announced relief packages for farmers. But activists claim the process of delivering relief is taking too long, with authorities still assessing the damage in some regions. May be by the time they really do the assessment of the situation more farmers may commit the suicide and sell their children?

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Source: Thomson Reuters

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