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Suicide is a taboo subject for conversation. Particularly what makes a person want to commit suicide or what to say in the face of their pain.

“A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”
― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

Suicide is a subject almost everyone has thought of at some point or the other. Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to end our own life or how it could be done without confronting the great fear - pain, suffocation or other discomforts. Yet suicide remains a taboo subject. The feelings behind suicide. What makes someone commit suicide. We can talk statistics or prevention or helplines, but in the face of actual pain that drives a person to suicide, we have no skills. There is a difference between contemplating suicide and planning to commit suicide. An important one. The first is a fairly common and natural response to unbearable negative emotions. The other is an irreversible action.

I admit I have often considered suicide. I have written about suicide before too. From a perspective of statistics, from a perspective of understanding widespread distress needing political answers, from a perspective of empathy when I read about suicide, from a perspective of failing to support and grieving when someone I know commits suicide and I have also considered suicide as an option to end my own life when I was very sad. Yet, whenever I have tweeted about the subject, I have immediately got responses that amount to stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopSTOP! It is so immediate that it would be hilarious if the subject were not grave. I have got helpline numbers as replies, I have got advice to not let dark thoughts enter my mind.

Hello! I write and tweet and comment and contemplate issues of human rights abuse. How in the world can one do that without having any dark thoughts? If I were planning to commit suicide, why would I be tweeting instead of finding myself a rope? I understand that it can sometimes be a cry for help by a distraught person, but if the rest of the words are perfectly normal, where is the harm in reading to find out what is being said?

Because here is the thing. Even if a person were tweeting about suicide publicly as a last ditch call for attention and help, the last thing they'd need is to be told to shut up or a sea of platitudes. What they would be needing is an empathetic listener who cares.

What exactly is this fear of talking about suicides?

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I admit I have spent a great deal of time contemplating committing suicide over the years. As in killing myself. I have been in unhappy relationships involving heartbreak, I've been in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic, I've been a broke single mother of a disabled child. Despair and depression are no strangers. And yet I am here, typing this post.

I have actually found thinking about suicide in great detail helpful. Instead of fearing the pain of death (and thus possibly taking a rash step "while I have the courage" maybe after a glass or two of vodka), I've gone and researched methods of suicide. What would cause the least pain? What are the consequences of failure? What is the best method so that it causes least pain and least risk of failing and living with permanent damage? And anyone who knows me knows that when I say research, I mean obsessive information finding till I am convinced I know the subject in and out without actual experience. Enough to make a very well considered decision. On and off, when I'm in utter despair, I've gone and rechecked all the information. And yet here I am, typing all this.

Is this a guarantee I will never commit suicide? No. But it pretty much guarantees that I have given it thorough thought and not found it a better tradeoff for now. It guarantees that if I do it, it will not be a thoughtless impulse, but a decision I take about my life after considering all options I have.

So how has contemplating suicide helped me?

By giving me an option. By giving me an exit from the pain. By giving me the concrete information that if all this gets unbearable, I still have the option to exit. In the process, a miracle happens. I am no longer cornered by my despair. I always have the cheat route out. And because I know that, I am never out of options. I lose the fear of making attempts to change my circumstances that could fail.  Just allowing myself to spend time thinking about ending myself is a catharsis. If no one else, at least I am acknowledging how bad things are. I am listening to myself. It helps me feel heard. It gives me a vocabulary for describing my situation when asking for help. No, I don't mean "I am suicidal, help me or else." I mean "This, this and this is the reason for my despair. I am not able to see functional ways out. I need help." - because hello, I've gone through all the reasons in my contemplation and have them now sorted out in my head.

And sometimes, in a very cynical way, the contemplations have saved me. If I don't care whether I live or die, why not try this one last thing or the other? If I hit a dead end, I can always die.

“Killing myself was a matter of such indifference to me that I felt like waiting for a moment when it would make some difference.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Here is an example how. When I was younger, my emotions were more volatile. Taking what I felt seriously and giving it serious thought helped me see things more clearly and invariably, I ended up thinking that if there was any hope, I could use it and if there wasn't, well, I could always die. But the well thought out option being there and not at any threat of being taken off the table gave me the confidence to know I could opt for it any time and there was no need to do it right now. I could afford to wait and see. I am truly grateful no one immediately tried to stop me at such times, or I'd have been tempted to use the opportunity before someone blocked it from me.

Now I am older. I have a young disabled child. Whoever knows me knows that I'd chew my arm off before I allowed anything to harm him. Well, losing a mom would definitely harm him. So suicide is totally not an option any more. At least while he is alive. He needs me. Period. Again, if I hadn't thought this through, I could have been at risk of giving up without considering the impact.

In some of my more selfish and melodramatic ways, I've even thought "What will be, will be" If I am not there, someone or the other will care for my son, though I can't imagine who, right now. But then, in such a melodramatic moment, the desire is also to leave a lasting mark on the world when I die. And oops, it is not "orphaned kid in moment of despair". I'd like to be remembered for something better, thank you very much.

Whatever it is. Others may have their own reasoning. Still others may come to a well considered decision that suicide is actually a good choice for them, When my father was dying of Parkinson's, he had the option of looking forward to an indeterminate bed ridden existence with little control over his body, being bored out of his wits and too exhausted to do anything about it but to wait to die. He begged me to kill him almost every week. It is illegal and I have two more dependents, or I would definitely have arranged for him to be freed as per his will if it were legal. Others do it out of poverty. Starvation. When the alternative is to live in debt and watch your family suffer with no hope of ever providing for them in sight, it can be a brutal life to look forward to, and death may simply be a matter of running out of the ability to fight.

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank -- but that's not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

Whatever it is, however it plays out, a suicide is not about dying or exiting the world, it is about escaping unbearable torment. A person who feels unheard and uncared for, is unlikely to respond to a panicked flood of platitudes that s/he has heard a hundred times that drowns their voice all over again, even in the contemplation of death.

How agonized we are by how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live. ~ P. Sainath

My suggestion is that we all examine what this fear is that stops us from listening on hearing that word. Because the lives of many around us could depend on how we respond to their pain. If someone has made a well considered decision to die, there isn't much we can do about it, but if someone is screaming into a void of despair, perhaps us offering a listening ear will give them the space to be heard, and in the process get a clearer view of their situation.

What do you think?

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10th September, 2016, Cuttack: One is puzzled by the accounting treatment for Justice Indrajit Mahanty's Rs 2.5 crore working-capital loan for his hotel, The Triple C. Lakhs of rupees are withdrawn and repaid every month in two SBI loan accounts in the name of "Justice Indrajit Mahanty" and strangely, not in the name of Latest Generation Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., the company that has leased the hotel from him. As a High Court judge, Justice I. Mahanty gets a monthly salary of Rs. 1.35 lakhs, and therefore is liable to pay Income Tax. But repayment of principal plus interest could reduce or eliminate his taxable income. Suppose his tax returns are dodgy, can Income Tax authorities summon his lordship personally for questioning u/s 131 of Income Tax Act, and compel production of his lordship's books of account?

We asked Mr Binoy Gupta, a retired Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCA), who holds a Ph.D. in Law. His reply was: "There are no exemptions in any law for any Supreme Court or High Court Judges from any judicial or quasi judicial proceedings. Our department has taken action under the Income Tax Act against them."

We requested Mr Gupta for case studies (with or without the names of the judges) to substantiate his claim of having taken action against judges. His response was: "I can not give any instances today. But I stand by my statement that Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts have no special status so far the applicability of Income Tax Laws are concerned."

And then Mr Gupta added that bringing a judge to justice is a tough job. He wrote: "If any govt. servant engages himself in business, his department can and does take action. But the procedure for taking action against Judges is far too complex... impeachment which is extremely difficult."

Given the absence of case studies and other details of judges being held accountable by Income Tax authorities, our gut feeling is: IT authorities will never dare to summon his lordship, because (a) they would be in awe of a high court judge, and (b) because the high court has superior jurisdiction over the Income Tax department, and not vice versa. Even if judges do not enjoy de jure immunity from quasi-judicial and administrative authorities, they enjoy de facto immunity. No government official will risk rubbing a high court judge the wrong way by questioning him, even if the law permits him to do so!

Justice Indrajit Mahanty may or may not have broken any laws, but he is definitely in breach of the code of ethics on multiple counts. Must we all act like Gandhi's three monkeys and remain silent?

In return for such unquestioned authority and immunity, judges are expected to keep their affairs transparent and straightforward, by abstaining from business activities. Their income should ideally consist of their salaries, and interest on fixed deposits etc. -- nothing more complicated than that. To quote YK Sabharwal, former Chief Justice of India, who spoke on the Judicial Canon of Ethics, "Almost every public servant is governed by certain basic Code of Conduct which includes expectation that he shall maintain absolute integrity... manage his financial affairs in such a manner that he is always free from indebtedness, and not involve himself in transactions relating to property with persons having official dealings with him." Please note that seeking building permissions, bank loans, hotel licenses, etc. etc. are all transactions with the government, administration and public sector, who all have "official dealings" with a high court judge in his judge-like capacity. Such transactions adulterate the purity of Justice Indrajit Mahanty's judgment.

According to the Restatement of Values of Judicial Life (adopted by Full Bench of Supreme Court on7th May, 1997), "A Judge should not engage directly or indirectly in trade or business, either by himself or in association with any other person. 

And according to the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2002, "A judge shall not only be free from inappropriate connections with, and influence by, the executive and legislative branches of government, but must also appear to a reasonable observer to be free therefrom."

Read all these documents on judicial ethics and in that context, understand the significance of Justice I Mahanty's actions. Justice Indrajit Mahanty may or may not have broken any laws, but he is definitely in breach of ethics on multiple counts.

So, must we all remain silent like Gandhiji's three monkeys? Must we all adopt a policy of See-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil when it comes to judges? Must the adulteration of our judicial services be allowed to continue under cover of a conspiracy of silence?

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
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Posted By 
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Our Agriculture Sector and Farmer find themselves in dire straits partly due to the Policies of the respective Governments, flawed Costing/Pricing Polity and shrinking of Land Holdings.

The clear indicator that something is seriously wrong can be gauged by the fact that, on average, 2,035 farmers have been losing ‘Main Cultivator’ status every single day for the last 20 years i.e. 2035 less Farmers every day. The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways. The NSSO 70th Round data revealed that the average monthly income of an agricultural household is just Rs. 6426/- at the national level. Within this average monthly income, income from cultivation is reported to be only 47.9% (the remaining comes from livestock: 11.9%; from wage/salary: 32.2% and from non-farm business: 8%). If this amount is divided into two adults per family, the daily wage comes to Rs 107 which is way below the minimum wage fixed in any state of India. This is in stark contrast to the 7 Pay Commission recommendations in which minimum pay of a Govt Employee i.e. a Helper will increase to Rs. 18,000 from existing of Rs. 7,000. In the past 45 years, the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat was hiked by 19 times, whereas the basic salary plus DA of a government employee was raised by an average of 120 to 150 times.

The Profit Margins of the farmers have been steadily declining on account of rising Input Costs. In 2015 Punjab State Agricultural Department factored the increase in Input Costs and recommended that the MSP of Wheat should be Rs 1950 per quintal. The Chief Minister of Punjab requested the CACP and the Center but to no avail, the MSP of Wheat for the Rabi season of 2015 was fixed at Rs 1525/-. How can a Farmer bear a loss of Rs 425 per quintal? One of the reasons of the present Agrarian Crisis is that all the Governments have been underpaying the Farmer to control the Inflation and will continue to do so.

There was a ray of hope in the farmers mind that the present Government will implement Swaminathan Report, which was a poll promise by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. But alas, all hopes were dashed in Feb 2015, when the Government told the Supreme Court that it would not be able to enhance the minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural produce to be 50% more than the input cost. Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh submitted the Centre's affidavit which stated that," prescribing an increase of at least 50% on cost may distort the market”. The argument that 60 cr people will be underpaid by the Government to ensure that the market is not distorted, defies logic. My take on this is, that will the director of CACP take 15 days salary for 30 days work, I bet he will not. Then, why is the Farmer exploited in such a blatant way?

Govt imported 5 Lakh tons of duty free maize, which led to a crash in February spot price of Rs 400 and for June deliveries in the future market to Rs 1172, way below the MSP. Now, what is the fault of the farmer who had maize planted in his fields and was forced to sell below MSP. The government must compensate the farmer in such circumstances as this starts a never ending cycle of indebtness, which ends very unpleasantly. It is understood that imports were required as there were no stocks in the country, but the government must factor in the farmers concern too.

I admire the various initiatives which the Government has come up with like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, National Agriculture Market, Pradhan Mantri Krisi Sinchai Yojana, Soil Card etc, Agri Apps, but am at a loss to understand/comprehend that how will these schemes help the farmer if the price at which he sells is below the input costs incurred by him?

Recently, the Govt signed a long term memorandum with Mozambique for import of Pulses, under which the imports will rise to 200,000 Tons in 2021 .Going by the MoU, India will build a cooperative farming model in Mozambique by identifying and choosing a network of farmers who will be provided with seeds and other improvements. The pulses produced by this network of farmers will be procured at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of the same produce in India.

It is perplexing that only 1% of the Pulses are procured by Govt agencies in India at MSP and no effort was made to improve the domestic procurement mechanism, but the Govt had no qualms in assuring the African Farmer 100% procurement of pulses at MSP. It is worth noting that the Govt increased the minimum support price (MSP) of pulses by up to Rs 425 per quintal for this year to boost output and check price rise. Please keep in mind that the transportation cost would add to the landed cost of pulses. Had there been a robust procurement mechanism by the FCI or state governments, like wheat/paddy coupled with realistic MSP, the farmer would have gone for pulses too. A fact supporting this argument is that Pulses sowing as on 15 July increased by 40% as compared to last year. It is felt by majority of Agri Experts that this outsourcing of agriculture is detrimental to the interest of the Indian farmer.
Now, the Govt has decided to form a committee under Chief Economic Advosor to frame a policy on pulses which will look into various options, including MSP (Minimum Support Price), Bonus and subsidizing Farmer who opt for Pulses.

It is sad that Govt took cognizance of the flawed policy aspects only when there was a national uproar. The Govt needs to formulate a real time Agri-Policy encompassing all Food Produce and go for long term solutions rather than knee jerk reactions.

Following images are of the bank passbook of debt burdened Guruprasad Baburao Lange of Latur who committed suicide because of debt, lack of income or work on the 16th of September. The bank seems to have charged him Rs. 113 for not maintaining a minimum balance.

Bank statement of farmer Guruprasad Baburao Lange
Bank statement of farmer Guruprasad Baburao Lange

Is it just me who finds it obscene that the bank account of a dead man with no money from it gets two deposits on the 23rd (assistance?) and the first deduction is not by his illiterate widow with two children and his parents to care for without any income, but the bank, getting their pound of flesh, because he may have died because he didn't have money, but he didn't maintain minimum balance in his account, right?

Bank passbook of farmer Guruprasad Baburao Lange
Bank passbook of farmer Guruprasad Baburao Lange
Bank passbook of farmer Guruprasad Baburao Lange
Bank passbook of farmer Guruprasad Baburao Lange

Guruprasad Baburao Lange leaves behind aged parents, two children under five years of age and an illiterate wife who must now assume his responsibilities to provide for them in addition to her own. I spoke with his brother, who explained it as "He couldn't find work, what happens, happened".

Waitaminit. Lange wasn't a farmer?

"He was a farmer only, but there is nor rain or crops this year."

There is no work either.

IDBI is currently making news because it provided a 900 crore loan to the defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

On one end, your own money kept in a bank in insufficient quantities can get you fined posthumously even after you commit suicide because of financial difficulties. On the other, you can default on loans, be blacklisted as a risk and still be able to scam loans from the same bank.

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A friend of mine died recently in a freak climbing accident. A lively, intelligent person, with great and diverse talent, he was well respected at work, among friends and fellow climbers alike. He was full of initiative ideas and empathy. A truly perfect person to have with you anywhere.

He has left behind a wife, a two year old daughter and aged parents. He was the sole bread-winner of their family, and they lived comfortably as he earned very well.

The family, now is in deep debt, as to add to their emotional loss, they now have no source of livelihood. My friend, while earning a good income, had failed to invest in insurance or savings, and had also taken a housing loan for their new home.

I look at their situation and learn my lesson. No one here comes with a guaranteed life-span. I am going to start saving, plan insurance, minimise debt, avoid expensive loans, and in general be well planned in my finances so that if an unforeseen disaster strikes, my family may at least be secure in an economical sense.

This is something outdoor professionals rarely consider. Leading hand to mouth lives becomes a way of life. The little extra money they have goes on something or the other they want.

The sad truth is that outdoor adventure instructors have very few guarantees in life. Their interests make very few non menial careers suitable for them in case of an accident that limits their abilities. Additionally few seem to manage a work-life balance to integrate family responsibilities with greater priority going to the mountaineering fraternity. Accidents are entirely possible in this profession and pay scales are low.

What is needed with our community is the interest in managing life, money, relationships and then using up what spare resources they have.