Arundhati Roy: Rallying for thousands of farmer widows, while Govt disputes Print E-mail

 "what is a suicide, who is a farmer"!


March 6, 2006

Indian writer rallies for widows of suicide farmers

NEW DELHI --  Activist and Booker Prize winning Indian writer Arundhati Roy on Monday lashed out at the government for not helping hundreds of women whose farmer husbands committed suicide over failed crops.

Roy joined dozens of women who have been living on the street in New Delhi less than a kilometer [mile] from the national parliament to draw attention to their plight.

"There have been tens of thousands of suicides by farmers in the country, and the government wants to dispute what a suicide is, who a farmer is," Roy told reporters.

The women want the government to write off bank loans their deceased husbands took and could not repay after a severe drought in 2001.

Around 1,800 farmers are estimated to have killed themselves since 2001 in one district alone and thousands more have taken their lives in other parts of the country because of mounting debts and failing crops.

More than two-thirds people live off agriculture in India, where the economy is growing at 8 percent.

"Growth is happening, but who has their greedy hands on it? The stock markets are booming, but less than 1 percent of Indians have shares in the market," she said.