The high land taxes of the 1870s, payable in cash regardless of the effects of frequent famines on farm output or productivity, combined with colonial protection of usury, money lenders and landowner rights, contributed to widespread penury and frustration among cotton and other farmers, ultimately leading to the Deccan Riots of 1875-1877.
The British government enacted the Deccan Agriculturists’ Relief Act in 1879, to limit the interest rate charged by money lenders to Deccan cotton farmers, but applied it selectively to areas that served British cotton trading interests.
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Farmer suicides in India refers to the national catastrophe of farmers committing suicide since the 1990s, often by drinking pesticides, due to their inability to repay loans mostly taken from banks and NBFCs to purchase expensive seeds and fertilizers, often marketed by foreign MNCs.
According to a report by the National Crime Records Bureau, the states with the highest incidence of farmer suicide in 2015 were Maharashtra (3,030), Telangana (1,358), Karnataka (1,197), Madhya Pradesh (581), Andhra Pradesh (516), and Chhattisgarh (854).
Tamma Carleton, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, compared suicide and climate data, concluding that climate change in India may have "a strong influence" on suicides during the growing season, triggering more than 59,000 suicides in 30 years.National Crime Records Bureau, an office of the Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India, has been collecting and publishing suicide statistics for India since the 1950s, as annual Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India reports.It started separately collecting and publishing farmers suicide statistics from 1995.The Bt cotton seeds cost nearly twice as much as ordinary ones.The higher costs forced many farmers into taking ever larger loans, often from private moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates (60% a year).The expressed reasons in order of importance behind farmer suicides were – debt, alcohol addiction, environment, low produce prices, stress and family responsibilities, apathy, poor irrigation, increased cost of cultivation, private money lenders, use of chemical fertilizers and crop failure.In other words, debt to stress and family responsibilities were rated as significantly higher than fertilizers and crop failure.Moreover, Bt cotton technology has been very effective overall in India." Matin Qaim finds that Bt cotton is controversial in India, irrespective of the scholarly evidence.Anti-biotech activist groups in India repeat their claim that there is evidence of link between Bt cotton and farmers suicides, a claim that is perpetuated by mass media.They then question whether the impact of the increase in use of Bt cotton on farmers suicide in Madhya Pradesh has been to improve or worsen the situation.In 2011, a review of the evidence regarding the relationship between Bt cotton and farmers' suicides in India was published in the Journal of Development Studies, also by researchers from IFPRI, which found that "Available data show no evidence of a 'resurgence' of farmer suicides.