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Error in farmer suicide data in Business Standard piece

Business Standard has written a piece challenging the data on farmer suicides from Uttar Pradesh titled “As farmers commit suicide, Uttar Pradesh hides their deaths”. It is a pretty good piece and necessary. In the interests of accuracy of information, I am pointing out a correction in the statistics attributed to P. Sainath in the article.

Over 20 years—between 1991 and 2011—more than 1.5 million farmers, distressed by crop failure and death, committed suicide across India, according to P. Sainath, journalist and Magsasay Award winner, who analysed National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The NCRB reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, collecting data every year from states.

The article linked to from the Hindu site is indeed by P. Sainath, but provides no data that will offer the number of suicides as 1.5 million.

To the best of my knowledge, the number of farmer suicides, as per NCRB data and quoted by P. Sainath is “nearly 296,438 farmers between 1995 and 2013 (both years included)”. This, being five times less than 1.5 million, deserved a clarification, though it does not detract from the point the article makes about fudged farmer suicide data in Uttar Pradesh in any way. For more information, you may read “Maharashtra crosses 60,000 farm suicides“.

Disclosure: I (Vidyut) publish P. Sainath’s blog.