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Unraveling Farmer Suicides in IndiaEgoism and Masculinity in Peasant Life$
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Nilotpal Kumar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199466856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199466856.001.0001

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‘Farmers’ Suicides’

‘Farmers’ Suicides’

A Critical Appraisal

(p.179) 5 ‘Farmers’ Suicides’
Unraveling Farmer Suicides in India

Nilotpal Kumar

Oxford University Press

Vexing methodological questions about inter-subjectivity, post-facto explanation, recalling inaccuracies, and falsification have been so far been marginalized in the literature on ‘farmers’ suicides’. After illustrating this point, the chapter offers an empirical examination of 29 officially certified farming suicides to reveal a causal continuum underlying them. At one end of this continuum there is a group of suicide in which farming reasons are necessary and sufficient antecedents; such cases are distinguished by severe indebtedness of the deceased due to non-fructuous farm-investments and inescapable expenditure on marriage and health. But on the other end, there is a subcategory of suicides that are neither exclusively or principally farm-related; they are instead explained locally in terms of a range of familial or inter-familial disputes around sexuality, (non-farm- related) alcoholism, dowry demands, and so on. Mediating these groups, there are also cases in which farm-related antecedents, although principal, are so closely intertwined with other familial causes in the local narratives that it is difficult to catalogue them either way. The importance of social processes through which motives are ascertained officially is therefore central to the discussions of ‘farmers’ suicides’.

Keywords:   ‘farmers’ suicides’, farm-relatedeness, inter-subjectivity, indebtedness, family disputes, alcoholism, suicide motive

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