Farmer suicides in India are not necessarily due to crisis in the farm sector. “Culture of consumerism” encouraged by “commercial banks” is possibly pushing them to the brink, says Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus
“Farmers suicides in Vidarbha and elsewhere have not necessarily been caused because of agrarian crisis,” the founder of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank told HT on Wednesday.
“Product-marketing companies paint such a rosy picture. Gullible young men... almost come to believe that all the beautiful girls will fall in love with them, if they buy a motorcycle. Nobody tells him that he would be unable to pay back the loan.”
The problem with the Indian government’s prescription for agrarian crisis was its policy of “continued dependence” on commercial banks, said Yunus, who shared the 2006 Peace Nobel with the Grameen Bank.
Governments need to view poverty alleviation programmes as “social business” to liberate farmers from “loan sharks”.
Referring to loan waivers and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, he said, “Doles are important; but these should be viewed as temporary interventions.”
In the long run, he said, charity becomes a habit and destructive for the beneficiaries. Governments needed to promote income-generating activities, said Yunus, who delivered the second Professor Hiren Mukherjee Memorial Lecture in the Parliament’s Central Hall in the evening.