Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Toxic Tears: Documentary on Farmers' Suicides

There is a silent epidemic of farmer suicides in India, a figure that reaches hundreds of thousands. Researchers reveal that it is something like a farmer taking his life every 30 minutes for more than a decade. There have been other documentaries made on the subject earlier and a Hindi film, Peepli Live, on this topic fared well at the box office.

The Times of India had this to report about a 24-minute documentary by a Dutch researcher on this issue:
It is a juxtaposition of contraries that has now become ironic. Even though Punjab government has found a negligible number of farmers who merit Rs 200,000 compensation, given to those who are driven to suicide because of debt, a Dutch researcher has been overwhelmed by the tragedy which has almost become an every house tale in the villages.

Tom Deiters, who had come to India six years ago to carry out research on farmer suicides in a cluster of Punjab villages as an academic exercise, was
moved by the destruction that the pesticides were wreaking that he decided to stay-on for a longer time.

His documentary, Toxic Tears, profiles the men and women in Punjab's villages who have lost their sons to the faulty farming practices. An old woman, her face heavily creased with age, in Chottian village, broke down as she narrated how her eldest son had drunk the very pesticide, which had trapped him in a debt, to end his life four years ago.

A year later, her younger son, unable to tolerate a failed crop and more debt, followed suit. Tom, whose thesis was for doing Masters in International Relations, a part of political science, at the University of Amsterdam in Holland, is now using the Punjab model, to highlight how globalisation is far removed from reality. "The evils of so called "green revolution" are so stark in Punjab," said Deiters.

"I want to use Punjab's example to show how the policy makers are not connected to the reality. This is important because other states in India want to follow Punjab's footsteps," he said. Frustrated by the pattern of the vicious trap that he had seen replicated across the villages, Toxic Tears, highlights how some, especially commission agents, are trying to deny farmers' suicides. "Farmers are borrowing money at outrageous rates from agents, many of whom double up as agents of pesticides and fertilizers. There is a strong bias at work,” said Dieters, who is now more focused on solutions.

1 comment:

  1. Here is the link to the trailer of Toxic Tears:


    If you want to see the full movie please contact us at info@studiodus.com

    With warm regards

    Tom Deiters