Team to counsel Ludhiana farmers against lavish weddings

The big fat Punjabi wedding no longer seems to be a matter of pride for the region as its famous ‘spendthrift’ culture is under the scanner for all the wrong reasons.

punjab Updated: Feb 23, 2017 13:58 IST
Rameshinder Singh Sandhu
Rameshinder Singh Sandhu
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Punjab Agricultural University,ICAR,Ludhiana farmers
The department of journalism at PAU(JS Grewal /HT)

The big fat Punjabi wedding no longer seems to be a matter of pride for the region as its famous ‘spendthrift’ culture is under the scanner for all the wrong reasons.

So far, the unfortunate incidents of farmer suicides in the state have been credited to stress induced by loans owing to crop damage. But, now experts have observed that the trend of organising ostentatious social functions, especially weddings, significantly aggravates the farmers’ debt, driving them to suicides.

To discourage farmers from organising lavish social celebrations and avoiding unnecessary stress, Punjab Agricultural University’s (PAU) department of agricultural journalism, languages and culture, which was recently roped in by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, for its three-year project on helping farmers to cope with stress, has decided to start first phase of the project.

Besides its own students, PAU has also selected many villagers who will be a part of activities and they have already started painting poles or walls in the villages conveying the message of organising simple social functions.

The department has also prepared special handbills that underline the importance of keeping the social celebrations, including weddings, simple, giving tips on how they should be organised to avoid loans.

Prof Sarabjeet Singh, principal investigator of the project and a senior faculty member of the department, pointed out that besides crop damage due to inclement weather huge loans farmers take for organising lavish social functions also keep them under immense pressure and once they realise that they will fail to return the loan, they commit suicide.”

“So far, this aspect of farmer suicides has not been studied on a big scale and neither the farmers have ever been counselled on it. It is unfortunate that due to societal pressure they end up taking loans to ensure an opulent function. They may not be willing to spend but our culture of lavish weddings forces them to do so. But saying ‘no’ to this is in our very own hands and this is what we want to teach the farmers and their families in this phase,” said Singh.

“If simple weddings can take place in South India, they can be a reality in North India too. Also, one should consider their financial situation first before taking loans.”

Gurneet Kaur, first year student of masters in journalism and mass communication who is a volunteer in the project, not only farmers but other people also give in to societal pressure to ensure that a social function, especially a wedding, is lavish.

“What will people say”, is the biggest concern among all? The ICAR project has been funded by the National Agriculture Science Fund (NASF). It has appointed PAU as its lead centre while Punjabi University, Patiala; PJ Telangana State Agricultural University, Hyderabad and Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani will be the cooperating centre’s.

Methods used in various phases of this project will be utilised for future research on farmer suicides.

First Published: Feb 23, 2017 13:58 IST