The total number of farmer suicides in the country since 1995 crossed the 3,00,000-mark in 2014. However, the 2014 data are not comparable with 19 earlier years of farm suicide data. This is because of major changes in the methodology of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
With the new parameters, the number of farmer suicides in 2014 falls to 5,650. That is less than half their 2013 figure of 11,772. This happens simply because of the shuffling of the suicide numbers across new or revised categories in the NCRB tables. The “fall” in farmer suicides accompanies a stunning increase in suicides by “Others”. Karnataka, the second worst State for such suicides in the country, saw 321 farmers take their lives in 2014. That is a big drop from the previous year’s figure of 1,403. In the same 12 months, though, suicide numbers in the “Others” column of that State went up by 245 per cent. From 1,482 to 5,120 suicides. On average, the five worst States for farmer suicides saw a rise of 128 per cent in suicides by “Others”.
The NCRB 2014 data also record thousands of tenant farmer suicides as those committed by “agricultural labourers”. This too helps dilute the numbers in the main “farmers” column in a big way. By the NCRB’s own admission, there has been no data audit of its new numbers. The agency simply says that it has “already decided to organise data audit in the year on random basis”. (Read: they will now audit numbers already published as authentic.) Nor were policemen at the lowest level stations—those who record the data—trained for this new exercise.
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