Asia-Pacific

India votes: The farmers that form a major voting base in India's election

0:00

More than 10 per cent of the world’s population will take part in the largest democratic exercise in history when India heads to the polls. And the votes of more than 100 million farmers will play a crucial part in the outcome.

In a country of more than 100 million farmers, their votes play a crucial part in the Indian elections.

But millions of Indian farmers are struggling with high-interest loans they will never be able to repay.

Extreme and unpredictable weather has made a bad situation even worse for many farmers, including those in Wayanad, Kerala.

Rathi Kodakkappallil
Rathi Kodakkappallil
SBS News

Rathi Kodakkappallil never knew the extent of her husband’s debt - and she never could have expected the tragedy that happened just a few months ago.

"I only came to know about the debts after his death. It was so unbelievable," she said.

Her husband Ajith Kumar is one of the hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers who have died by suicide in recent years.

It’s estimated 45 Indian farmers die by suicide every day.

Jose
Jose.
SBS News

Jose has been a farmer in Pulpally for 30 years – but most of the crops he used to grow are no longer feasible.

"We farmers are proud – but if the support does not come from anywhere, farmers fall into debt and that is what is leading to suicides," he said.

Farmers, like Jose, in Kerala have had incredibly challenging times - last year’s floods rendered much of the land in-arable.

But, this is a national issue and an important one for this election – farmers have been protesting all over India.

Across the country – rural and urban – wherever farmers work, it is a similar story.

Farmers will form a major voting base in India's election
Farmers will form a major voting base in India's election.
SBS News

In one of India’s most cosmopolitan cities, Karuna starts work at 4am every day, selling coconuts in the Bengaluru city markets.

"Governments come once every five years, but do nothing for the people. What can I do? Where can I get help? I am just helpless," Karuna said.

One of their demands is to have debt waived or interest-free loans - but that does not solve the problems in the long-term.

 

"There is no sufficient government mechanism for ensuring the fair market," Dr Girjian Gopi from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment said.

 

 

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch