Agrarian Distress and Farmer Suicides in North India: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Agrarian Distress and Farmer Suicides in North India

1st Edition

By Lakhwinder Singh, Kesar Singh Bhangoo, Rakesh Sharma

Routledge India

230 pages | 22 B/W Illus.

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Agrarian distress in the era of globalization has manifested in the suicides of farmers and agricultural labourers. This book, using empirical research and field data from north India, especially Punjab, examines the different facets of this tragic phenomenon in rural India. Situating Indian agriculture in the context of globalization it looks at the underlying causes of farmer suicides in a state that was the model of modern capitalist agriculture and development. It also attempts to understand why other farmers have chosen not to take the same path. With a comparative framework and coverage of nearly 1400 rural households, it brings out the brutal manifestation of this complex and multidimensional situation in the Indian countryside.

Topical, comprehensive and rich in data, this book will be valuable to scholars and researchers of political economy, agricultural economics, South Asian politics, political sociology, and public policy.


‘Punjab, not like Bengal or Gujarat, was particular on its own in Indian economic history. The book . . . examines the truth about the fortune and backlash of the region.’ — Donghyu Yang, Professor, Seoul National University, South Korea

‘[A] pioneering work . . . [The] book is a wake-up call for policy makers who have so far left the peasant in the lurch.’ — Dietmar Rothermund, Professor Emeritus and Former Director, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany

‘The book is very timely as it not only highlights the nature and magnitude of the agrarian distress . . . but also provides analytical insights into causes of the crisis at the micro level with a field based study from the state’s suicide belt.’ — Sukhpal Singh, Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Management in Agriculture, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, India

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations List of tables List of figures Foreword Preface List of Contributors 1. Introduction 2. Perspectives on Agrarian Distress and Rural Suicide 3. Economic Development and Rural Distress in Punjab 4. Rural Households: Socio-Economic Characteristics 5. Determinants of Agrarian Distress in Punjab: Magnitude and Manifestation 6. A Village on Sale: Microscopic analysis of Rural Distress 7. Summary, Conclusions and Policy Suggestions References Appendices


About the Authors

Lakhwinder Singh is Professor of Economics and Coordinator at the Centre for Development Economics and Innovation Studies, Punjabi University, India. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Yale University, USA, and Seoul National University, South Korea. Singh is the founding editor of Millennial Asia: An International Journal of Asian Studies. He has more than 50 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited books, and several authored and co-authored books to his credit. His recent book is Technology, Innovations and Economic Development (2015).

Kesar Singh Bhangoo is Professor of Economics at the Centre for Research in Economic Change, Department of Economics, Punjabi University, India. He specializes in labour economics, especially industrial relations, trade unionism and other labour issues. His book Dynamics of Industrial Relations (1995) discusses industrial disputes, trade unions and the working and welfare conditions in the cotton textile industry.

Rakesh Sharma is Indian Council of Social Science Research doctoral fellow at the Department of Economics, Punjabi University, India. He specializes in areas of national agricultural innovation systems and has handled several projects related to agrarian distress and rural economic development.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Agribusiness
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries