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Sons of debt-ridden farmers in Maharashtra find it difficult to get married, says study

Mumbai city news: 70% young men of marriageable age from farmer households in rural Maharashtra are finding it difficult to find brides

mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2017 10:16 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Farmer loans,Farmer crisis,Agrarian crisis

The debt thousands of Maharashtra’s farmers are grappling with is affecting another area of their lives — 70% young men of marriageable age from farmer households in rural Maharashtra are finding it difficult to find brides.

In Maharashtra’s villages, several youngsters aged 30 to 40 years were unmarried. These figures were revealed in a survey conducted by groups of social activists and teachers in 45 villages of the Akole and Sangamner talukas in Ahmednagar.

The survey, of 3,068 youngsters of marriageable age, found that while most of them belonged to families with marginal land holdings, there were several from well-to-do families with landholdings of more than 10 acres.

Most of them were degree holders — four even hold management degrees.

But the four-year drought that hit the farming sector between 2012 and 2016 had changed equations, leaving many of them in debt.

READ: Congress and Shiv Sena up the ante against Maharashtra government for blanket loan waiver

“We decided to do the survey when we saw how the social fallout of the agrarian crisis came to the fore during the farmers’ protests. Even if the brides are from farming households, parents are not willing to get them married to men from other farming households, as they know well the financial distress the family goes through,” said Heramb Kulkarni, an educationist from Pune.

Kulkarni added: “We also found parents requesting political leaders to give their sons jobs in cooperative societies, at least until they get married.”

The group was headed by Kulkarni and Vitthal Shewale.

“We surveyed districts known for wealthy farmers. I’m sure the situation is worse in poorer districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha,” Kulkarni said.

As more women are degree-holders, there is also greater awareness. “The government policy of not failing students till Class 8 has helped raise the number of girls passing SSC. The awareness towards education has resulted in more the girls graduating, and they want grooms who have jobs,” he said.

A skewed sex ratio is only making matters worse, Kulkarni said.

Farm activists said the debt farmers are in means they are at the receiving end of many social stigmas. “It is difficult for any farmer, with a landholding of 2 acres, to feed his family. The landholding of farmers in the last few years has drastically reduced. Not only youngsters, even senior citizens in farming families are not being treated properly,” said farm activist Amar Habib.

First Published: Jul 15, 2017 11:18 IST